Notable Week 12 Pro Football Focus grades for the Tennessee Titans
Another ugly win for the Tennessee Titans in Week 12. The good news is that they are 5-1 when the game is decided by less than seven points. It doesn’t matter how they win; a win is still a win. Now the Titans are 7-4 and atop the AFC South as the No. 3 seed in the AFC, and they need to keep this train rolling as Houston is up next. The expectations for the offense were high coming into the season and they have shown the ability to score 30-plus on good teams. The struggles in the run game have resulted in Marcus Mariota also struggling along the way, but the Titans have relied on the hot-streaking defense in recent weeks. The Titans’ defense dominated, recording eight sacks and a fumble recovery to help seal the game. The play of the defense was reflected in the Pro Football Focus grades for Week 12.
Top 5 Performances:
DL Jurrell Casey, 90.4 Overall Grade
EDGE Brian Orakpo, 87.3 Overall Grade
RT Jack Conklin, 85.9 Overall Grade
HB Derrick Henry, 85 Overall Grade
SS Johnathan Cyprien, 81.7 Overall Grade
Casey and the front seven took advantage of a weak offensive line as the defense put out its strongest performance of the year. Casey had his way, recording seven total pressures, a sack and a hit. Number 99 is on pace to have the best year of his career. He was ranked as the number two player at his position this week and it showed, as his pass rush grade was a 90.5.
Orakpo, similar to Casey, dominated all game, recording three pressures and two sacks. He and Casey are the only two Titans to have recorded at least one or more pressures in every game this season. Orakpo was ranked the seventh-best edge player this week and had a dominant performance in both pass rush and run defense, recording an 84 & 86.1, respectively.
Conklin continues to work his way back to All-Pro status this year. He had a dominant day in both run and pass situations. Conklin was ranked fourth at the position this week, recording an 84.4 grade for both his run and pass protection. We will talk about this below, but the entire offensive line need to start being consistent again.
Henry continues to show that he can be RB1 for the Titans. Henry ran hard this past week, forcing five missed tackles and leading the Titans in rushing with 13 rushes for 79 yards. Over the last four games, he has 39 carries for 189 yards for 4.8 yards per carry. Fun fact: Henry is the leading rusher for the Titans with 520 yards and 4.6 yards per carry. Henry still needs to learn to be a better pass catcher and blocker, but the Titans are slowly making a transition to Henry as the primary guy. This offseason, the Titans will need to find a player to be the lighting to his thunder.
The main reason the Titans signed Cyprien was to stop the run and he did that on Sunday. Cyprien graded at an 84.9 run stopping grade, which was second highest on the team. Cyrprien has struggled in pass coverage but played well in pass coverage recording a 75.4. Titans need for him to keep this up going down the stretch. The Titans have a few teams on the schedule that tend be run heavy offenses.
S Kevin Byard, 80.5 overall grade
Byard is having himself a great year thus far. He is leading the NFL in interceptions, first in pro bowl voting at his position and the third-highest rated safety through 12 weeks of the season. We can only hope that this is the first of many great years for the young player. Byard didn’t have an interception in this game, but he recovered a fumble to help the Titans to victory. He struggled a bit in the run game these past few weeks but got back on track, recording an 81.4. Byard has been a very consistent player in the secondary, which is one reason why the defense is playing well.
TE Delanie Walker, 78.8 Overall grade
With Rishard Matthews out with a hamstring injury, Mariota went back to his go-to man. Walker finally got into the end zone for the first time this year. We all know that it should have been his second, but he dropped the ball against the Steelers. Walker was targeted five times and caught four passes for 63 yards. Walker continues to be the go-to man for the Titans and has been Mr. Reliable for Mariota. The Titans will need to feed Walker the ball, as the Texans have a weak secondary.
OLB Kevin Dodd, 75.6 Overall Grade
The second round selection really hasn’t done much for the Titans this year, as he has been inactive constantly. Dodd really needs to show his value to the Titans or he might be out the door this offseason. Dodd played well on Sunday, but so did over half the defense, so I won’t hold my breath. Dodd’s pass rush and run grades were pretty good, recording a 74.5 & 73.6, respectively. Dodd only recorded one tackle, but we hope that he will continue to see the field so the Titans can adequately evaluate him.
WR Corey Davis, 74.3 Overall Grade
Each week, Davis continues to make strides as he gets reps on the field. Davis took steps forward this week and has improved, catching four passes for 39 yards. One of those catches extended a drive and helped seal the victory. Each week we are seeing glimpses of what the Titans offense should look like moving forward. Hopefully, Davis can continue to stay healthy and improve each week.
QB Marcus Mariota, 72.6 Overall Grade
Mariota was coming off a four interception game and said he wanted to rebound and show that this was just a fluke. Well, the Tennessee Titans quarterback threw two more interceptions. Was it the wide receivers’ fault maybe, or was it a bad throw? The third-year man needs to continue to clean these mistakes up or the Titans will not being going anywhere. Mariota finished the day completing 17 of 25 passes for 184 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The Titans face another shaky secondary next week and the key to the game will be to reduce the turnovers as they continue to make a playoff run.
CB Adoree’ Jackson, 48.3 Overall Grade
The overall grade here is kind of shocking to me, like I assume it will be to most. Jackson was targeted five times and allowed three catches for 34 yards. To me, this seems like he had a pretty darn good day. He was also targeted twice against T.Y. Hilton and did not allow a catch. Now this to me is pretty good, as he shut down one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. The grade aside, I think the Titans got a pretty good corner that is coming into his own these past few weeks.
OL Taylor Lewan, 54.9 Grade/ Josh Kline, 52.2 Grade/Quinton Spain, 50.9 Grade/ Ben Jones, 40.8 Grade
I lumped the entire offensive line together because they have not met expectations this season. Each of these players has been inconsistent throughout the year. The run blocking grade for each of these players is the biggest surprise this week. Lewan recorded the highest grade out of this group, which was a 45.4. Fans see that at times running backs have struggled, but the main issue has been the line’s poor play. It seems that the line plays to their competition. The line dominated the Jags and Seahawks, whose front sevens have been dominant, but struggle against the Colts. The line play has been an underlying issue all season and if the Titans want to make a push, the offensive line needs to play better.
What is next for the Titans? The Titans are at home facing the struggling Texans, who blew the Titans out some weeks back. If the Titans want to pull out a victory, the offense needs to reduce the turnovers and make some changes to get this offense moving. On defense, they need to continue their strong play and stop DeAndre Hopkins at all costs. Below are the PFF projected Week 13 lineups.