Three Takeaways From Week 6
Coming off a 28-26 win over the Cleveland Browns, the Tennessee Titans will look to keep their winning streak going against the Indianapolis Colts next week. But for just one more day, let’s focus on what went right during Sunday’s win.
The offensive coaching staff is showing signs of creativity
I don’t know why it took four games of ineptitude for Mike Mularkey and Terry Robiskie to see how they were failing their offensive players, but I’m glad they did. These last two games have been outstanding from an offensive perspective. The point totals of 30 and 28, respectively, are great to look at, but the way in which we’ve scored those points is even more encouraging.
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The offensive coaches are scheming wide receivers open, getting rid of complex play calls that didn’t work, and maximizing Marcus Mariota’s talents like Ken Whisenhunt couldn’t. The first four games were poorly called from a coaching perspective, but that all changed once the Titans made the trip to Miami. The coaches are creating uneven mismatches in defensive boxes and taking advantage of defenses with option plays. That’s allowing Mariota to play ball like he is meant to and showing us an innovative and effective offense.
Marcus Mariota is still good
Read that linked piece on Mariota above and you’ll see that the recent change in offense has resulted in Mariota having his two best games of the season (and possibly of his career). Granted he’s played two pretty terrible defenses in a row, Mariota still seems to be over his early season struggles that had Titans fans in a heap of panic. The coaching staff is putting him in comfortable positions to win and beat the defense. And he’s doing just that.
In the win over the Browns, Mariota used his legs for the second week in a row to great success. Whether on designed runs or self-chosen scrambles, the defense couldn’t deal favorably with Mariota’s speed and quickness. He was also throwing darts at all levels of the field, but more importantly on deep passes. He finally seemed to find his deep ball on two outstanding completions to Kendall Wright and Rishard Matthews. Both catches were made in diving fashion, but Mariota dropped both in their bread baskets. Signs of progress, for sure.
The pass rush is on fire
12 sacks in the last two weeks. Six a piece in each game. So that’s what it looks like when a Titans defense can get pressure on the quarterback. Not since 2008 has a Titans defense been getting this much pressure from their defensive fronts. Dick LeBeau has done a fantastic job of maximizing relatively limited defensive talent and putting his players in positions to win their 1-on-1 matchups.
The performance of the defensive line and linebackers in the pass rush has relieved pressure from defensive backs and linebackers in coverage. When a quarterback’s time-to-pass is shortened, defensive backs can be more aggressive in their coverages because they don’t have to cover for a longer period of time. LeBeau hasn’t quite been Jim Schwartz in 2008, but he’s been arguably our best defensive coordinator since then.