Week 4 Results and Their Effect on the AFC South Playoff Race
By Max Dambach
Week 4 Results: Lost to the Houston Texans 57-14
What it Means: Fresh off of a convincing win against the Seattle Seahawks, the Tennessee Titans could not have looked worse than they did on Sunday. The offense struggled to move the ball with three straight drives resulting in a three-and-out. QB Marcus Mariota managed to score two touchdowns with his legs before he left the game with a hamstring injury, and the Texans forced two uncharacteristic picks from him. When Matt Cassel entered the game, the offense only managed one more first down for the rest of the game. Anyone who doubts Mariota’s importance in the offense should note how anemic the Titans offense was under Cassel.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Titans couldn’t stop the rookie QB Deshaun Watson, as he had five total touchdowns. LeShaun Sims and Brice McCain were tasked with covering DeAndre Hopkins far too often and they were repeatedly burned. Adoree’ Jackson didn’t fare much better in coverage and even set up a touchdown with a pass interference penalty on Will Fuller in the end zone. The Titans defense just had no bite last Sunday. The Titans defense needed to take a step forward in 2017 so that the team could become a real playoff contender, but thus far, the defense doesn’t seem to have taken that next step.
What’s Next: The Titans made it through one of their toughest stretches of the season with a 2-2 record and now have a stretch of four games that are very winnable. The Titans’ first opponent is a Miami Dolphins squad that struggled to put up points against a notoriously poor New Orleans Saints defense. New Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler has not been able to use the team’s plethora of weapons to his advantage and RB Jay Ajayi has not been stellar. Assuming that Mariota is available for the game, the Titans should be able to get back on track offensively against a defense that couldn’t contain the New York Jets in Week 2 and certainly couldn’t contain the Saints one week later. The Titans defense must make a statement in Week 5 because the defense has been the ball-and-chain holding the team back thus far.