The Tennessee Titans Week 1 woes against the Oakland Raiders are proven by Pro Football Focus’ grades for Titans players in the game.
The 2017 NFL season is finally underway and the hype by most for the Tennessee Titans has been real. Titans fans were expecting an offense that could be as potent but still stick with our “smashmouth” brand. There were still major concerns at pass rush and cornerback depth, which showed in the preseason.
Titans fans don’t need analytics or player grades to know that in all phases of the game, the Titans played horrible. Seeing the “0-1” record, I hope that we are not going down a horrible path like similar years.
As there were a ton of negative thoughts running through my head, I did my best to be optimistic. The Titans stuck with what some experts predict to be a top three team in the AFC, as the Titans are attempting get to that level. As I tried to find a silver lining, there were some Titans players that really stood out, but most didn’t. Most fans can tell when a player has been good or bad, but being able to see a grade on player really provides the NFL fans with next level information to really help them dive deep into the game further than just a box score.
Analytics continues to evolve the game of football and Pro Football Focus has given fans new perspective and insight like we have never seen before. Being able to see grades and rankings of each player on a week-to-week basis has given not only the teams a better insight, but also the fans. Using Pro Football Focus, below are the best and worst Titans players from Week 1:
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- TE Delanie Walker, 86.5 overall grade
- T Taylor Lewan, 85.4 overall grade
- G Josh Kline, 84.7 overall grade
- EDGE Erik Walden, 84.1 overall grade
- DL DaQuan Jones, 80.5 overall grade
The five players with the worst grades:
- SS John Cyprien, 30.6 overall grade
- OT Jack Conklin, 32.6 overall grade
- DL Jurrell Casey, 35.3 overall grade
- CB Adoree’ Jackson, 37.2 overall grade
- LB Jayon Brown, 37.7 overall grade
Below, I go more in-depth on some players that stood out to me in this game, but the best players really don’t surprise me as much as three out of the five worst player performances. The best player on defense, Casey, had maybe his worst game as a pro. This game is one he should post in his locker as motivation. Conklin just was getting eaten alive in pass protection. Lastly, Jackson was picked on a lot going against a really good set of wide receivers, but I thought he played well.
After re-watching the game, even with the loss, there were a few Titans that stood out to me in both a good and bad way. Using Pro Football Focus’ grading system below I have listed the Titans that should have fans excited, but also some players that we can only hope had one bad game.
Players that stood out for me:
EDGE Erik Walden, 84.1 overall grade: The Titans got lucky being able to sign Walden so late in the offseason. Walden is showing why he had 11 sacks in 2016 with the Indianapolis Colts. Walden might be a great third OLB. Walden excelled in both run and pass rush defense, having grades of 80 and 85.4, respectively.
TE Delanie Walker, 86.5 overall grade: Walker is such an underrated tight end in the NFL and doesn’t get the respect he deserves. His receiving skills are well known, but his run blocking ability is what stands out. In Week 1 he received grades of 82.8 and 85.6, respectively, ranking him as the top tight end to start the season.
WR Rishard Matthews, 78.8 overall grade: A very underrated Titan, even though he was the 2016 leading wide receiver for the team. Mariota is very comfortable with Matthews and he continues to show why, as he is so reliable.
FS Kevin Byard, 75.5 overall grade: Byard, the local product from Middle Tennessee, had a lot of hype this preseason. Byard’s run stopping grade was an 82.6, which is an ability of his that continues to stand out. Byard is around the ball all the time and he should be exciting to watch this season.
WR Corey Davis, 75.8 overall grade: His NFL debut was rather shocking, as he missed pretty much the entire preseason. His first catch showed us why the Titans took him fifth overall in this year’s draft. Davis caught 6 passes for 69 yards on 10 targets. I can’t wait to see Mariota and Davis when they really get in sync this season.
EDGE Derrick Morgan, 76 Overall Grade: Morgan took advantage of the backup tackle to get his first sack of the year. He also made a great third down stop, getting Marshawn Lynch down to get the Titans offense the ball back. Morgan excelled in both run and pass rush defense grading out at 74.5 and 71.3, respectively.
QB Marcus Mariota, 65.8 overall grade- With all the hype for Mariota this offseason, his performance to me showed that he is still a bit rusty. He was off-target at times and was not in sync with some of his wide receivers. Marcus threw the ball 41 times and recorded a passing grade of 52.5. The Titans want to show that Marcus is a franchise quarterback, but throwing over 40 times isn’t their style of football.
Players that I thought played well but graded horribly:
CB Adoree’ Jackson, 37.2 overall grade: In his NFL debut, Jackson had a target on his back. He gave up some plays, but he showed how he can be the Titans’ number one corner. I think Jackson got a good taste of what the NFL is all about, playing against a top tier wide receiving core in his first game. I think Jackson will continue to get better as the season progresses. His Week 2 matchup against the Jags might be in his favor.
EDGE Brian Orakpo, 39.7 overall grade: What stood out to me with Orakpo was his pass coverage throughout the game; he graded with an 83.5 in this category but his run and pass rush grades were horrible (31.9 & 41.7, respectively). Pass rush depth to me is the biggest area of concern for the Titans. Orakpo is a key cog in the defense and he needs to play better.
Guys that I thought played horribly:
There were two players that stood out to me and not in a good way. Both players will be relied on heavily, but we can only hope that this was just first game jitters.
Jack Conklin, 32.6 overall grade: Conklin had a very difficult assignment to go against the 2016 defensive player of the year in Khalil Mack. Conklin has been struggling throughout the preseason, and we saw this continue in Week 1. He struggled in pass blocking, obtaining a grade of 24.4. Run blocking is where he has always excelled, grading at a 84.5, second-best next to Taylor Lewan. Titans play another good defensive line in the Jaguars next week, so let’s hope he can rebound.
John Cyprien, 30.6 overall grade: Cyprien’s strength is his run-stopping ability and was graded at a 79.4. Where it was obvious to see him struggle was in pass coverage, grading at a 24.2. Titans fans all knew that this is a weakness in his game. Sadly, Cyprien will not be on the field in Week 2, as he injured a hamstring in the game. His backup, Da’Norris Searcy, with an overall grade of 69.4, will replace him until fully healthy.
Week 1 showed two things: 1. Titans can compete with the best in the AFC and 2. Offensive & defensive issues need to be fixed. The Titans are facing the team that knocked them out of the playoffs in 2016 next week. This game is a must win to compete in the division, but also to get them to the playoffs.
Note: All grades have been obtained from Pro Football Focus.