The Tennessee Titans managed to do something incredible, they had a four game stretch at home spanning a month and they managed to lose every single one. That’s right, same coach that led this team to a 2-14 season last year, has the team to a worst start this year.
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This isn’t because Ruston Webster did anything wrong (actually he has been great), it isn’t because the defense is doing poorly, and it isn’t because the rookie quarterback isn’t doing well. It is poor offensive play calling plain and simple, and you really can’t argue with me on this.
For those few of you who are ready to argue (is there anyone who would argue this) I have two stats that will leave your with high blood pressure and some questions for management.
1. The Tennessee Titans are 27th in the league in total rushing yards, but they are still 16th in the league in rushing touchdowns and 20th in yards per carry.
-On the surface that stat doesn’t look that bad, but think about the games they have lost this season. They have lost a game by one, two and three points this season, and in all three of those games the Titans have gone away from the running game in crucial moments and it has killed this team.
Everyone and their mothers know that the best way to help a rookie (or backup in the case of last week’s game) quarterback is with a strong running game and they are leaving Marcus Mariota out to dry.
If you take out the game where Marcus Mariota and the Titans blew out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where the team was trying to run out the clock for the entire second half then this team is passing the ball 61% of the time behind an offensive line that is allowing the fifth most sacks in the league despite playing one less game than all the teams in front of them.
That is a recipe begging for losses because it makes the Titans offense predictable, and even worse it is going to get one of the clear blue-chip players on this team (Mariota) hurt for no reason. With no effort to commit to the running game, it is no surprise that this next stat exists.
2. The Tennessee Titans have not had a 100-yard game from a running back since Ken Whisenhunt has been there.
That is an insane stat. For a reference, in the last two years of Mike Munchak the Titans got seven different 100-yard rushing games behind an offensive line that we begged to be overhauled.
That is a huge reason why teams will start playing on their heels more, and it is one reason why the Titans were picked off on a play action play against Miami two weeks ago. The Titans got lazy and showed the exact same look on the play action and the corner knew immediately where the ball was supposed to go because the Titans didn’t force them to respect the running game out of that formation.
Say what you will about the Oregon offense that Mariota came from, but it worked in large part because defenses had to respect the fact that the Ducks could run on you at any time. Despite running for 5.7 YPC and absolutely mowing over people all game, the Titans only gave Antonio Andrews 10 carries, and they threw the ball 70% of the time.
I will always say this, I understand this team about 1% as well as Ken Whisenhunt who spends essentially all year with the team or thinking about the team, and he seems them every day in practice so he should know what they can do. However, I just can’t fathom why you don’t run the ball more there.
If you are going to argue that the offensive line was banged up, I would agree but doesn’t that hurt the pass protection too? Didn’t you spend a fourth round pick on Jalston Fowler for a reason? If not Stefon Diggs (WR), Tre Jackson (G), Nick Boyle (TE), Karlos Williams (RB), and Thomas Rawls (RB) were all available who could have helped your passing game more.
I just don’t understand this play calling, but again my job isn’t on the line and I don’t see these guys every day so Whisenhunt gets the gravity of the situation more than me. However, thinking about all the missed opportunities this year that could have been fixed with a strong ground game just makes me question so many things, and the fans won’t be the only ones with questions at the end of the year.