Notable Week 13 Pro Football Focus grades for the Tennessee Titans.
The Tennessee Titans pulled off another nail biter against their AFC South Rivals, the Houston Texans. This victory now ties the season series at 1-1. The Titans are 4-1 in the division and with only one team left to play that will really determine the playoff seeding. The Titans continue to pull out ugly wins, which to no surprise, the Titans are built for. Pulling these close wins off has been the Titans leveraging their underrated defense.
The offense continues to be just average on paper and has frustrated not only the Titans, but the fans as well. Coach Mike Mularkey has been saying that the identity of this team is to establish the run and stop the run. Well, they have executed and established this identity, though maybe not as flashily as fans would like. They are now ranked seventh in yards per game on offense and third in run yards allowed per game on defense. To the eye, the trend continues to be that the defense has sustained their good play, and the player grades are a reflection of this. Below are some notable PFF grades for the Titans from Week 13.
Top 5 Performances
LB Avery Williamson, 90.8 overall grade
TE Delanie Walker, 90.8 overall grade
DL DaQuan Jones, 86.2 overall grade
FS Kevin Byard, 84.4 overall grade
SS Johnathan Cyprien, 83.4 overall grade
Williamson is known for his great run-stuffing ability and on passing downs, rookie Jayon Brown takes his place. In Week 13, Woodyard suffered an injury mid-game, so Williamson needed to step up. He dominated in coverage, allowing just 12 yards in his coverage and recording a coverage grade of 82. Williamson continues to show how he is a force in the run game, recording a 91.5 run stopping grade. This grade was the highest on the team, which is full of great run stoppers. If Williamson wants to be a three-down linebacker, he must continue to play well in passing situations.
Having another All-Pro level season, Walker continues and should continue to be Marcus Mariota’s No. 1 option. When targeting Walker, Marcus was 5 of 5 for 63 yards and a touchdown. Walker continues to come up big in clutch situations, when the Titans need to make a play. Walker recorded an 87.6 receiving grade, but also dominated in the trenches. He is one of the best run blocking tight ends in the NFL, recording an 84.2 run blocking grade, which was highest on the team. There is no argument that Delanie is one of the best tight ends in all of football and one of the Titans’ most valuable players. The Titans will need him to keep their playoff hopes alive in Nashville.
Such sad news on Monday that DaQuan Jones tore his bicep and will be done for the year. All of us at Titan Sized wish him a speedy recovery. Jones has played very well for the Titans over the past two years, and of course in a contract year, he was having his best season. I would love to see Jones in two-tone blue next year and get the extension he deserves. Jones had 3.5 sacks over the past two games and it looked like he was going to continue to dominate against the Texans. While he was in the game, he recorded a run grade of 84.6 and a pass rush grade of 80.5, both being top 10 on the team. Jones was a great piece for the Titans front seven and there are a few players that will need to step up in his absence.
Through 13 weeks, Byard is ranked the third-best safety by PFF. He is playing at an elite level right now, with an overall ranking of 90.9. The Middle Tennessee State product continued to dominate in pass coverag this week. Byard recorded a team high 86.2 coverage grade and is still the NFL interceptions leader. Byard will have another tough day in coverage when the Titans face Larry Fitzgerald in Week 14.
Cyprien gave up the only touchdown to Houston in Week 13, but that was his only blemish. He only allowed two receptions for nine yards on five targets. To my surprise, his coverage grade isn’t higher, recording a 76 coverage grade. As we know, Cyprien continues to excel in run defense. He graded out at an 86.3, which was third-highest on the team. The Titans missed Cyprien in the run game while he was injured and he has been a large piece to an improving defense.
DL Jurrell Casey, 83.2 Overall Grade
This season, the sacks are not coming his way, but he continues to dominate in pressures each week. Casey’s pass rush grade was a 73 overall, but he added another pressure to his resume. The trend of the Titans on Sunday was stopping the run and Casey did just that. He recorded an 86.3, which was top five on the team in Week 13. Getting sacks is part luck and part skill, and we know Casey has the skill; but just like gambling, he will win eventually and break the streak.
QB Marcus Mariota, 80.7 Overall Grade
To the average fan, Mariota’s stat line was very bland. To me, the game plan was to establish the run and not place a ton of pressure on the third-year QB. He had a solid performance, going 15 of 23 for 150 yards and a touchdown. What stands out to me is Marcus was smart with the football. He did not take too many shots down the field (only three deep passes) and threw the ball away when nothing was there. We do have to tip our hats to the offensive line; their pass blocking performance was good, only allowing six total pressures to a stout front seven. Mariota needs to continue to build off of this game to get out of the slump that he has been in this season.
RT Jack Conklin, 80.4 Overall Grade
These past few weeks, we have been able to talk about Conklin in a positive light, as he is starting to get back into last year’s form. One thing that has continued to stand out is how well he has been pass blocking, grading in at an 84.5, which was highest on the offensive line. This year, the run blocking has been inconsistent and it has shown, especially in recent weeks. Conklin recorded an offensive line low of 51 and the line needs to get back on track if they want to make a playoff push.
CB Logan Ryan, 78.6 Overall Grade
Ryan’s grade seems to be just average, but he shut down one of the best wideouts in all of football. He shadowed Hopkins until he got hurt, but only allowed five receptions for 44 on nine targets, which in my book is an A-plus. Ryan has been coming into his own lately, as the Titans are starting to figure out how to really use him. He is currently in the concussion protocol, so he might not be facing one of the best wideouts ever to play the game in Larry Fitzgerald. We hope he makes a speedy recovery because if the Titans want to keep this rolling, they need him to play this week.
CB Adoree’ Jackson, 78.1 Overall Grade
Jackson has continued to play well and grow each week. Jackson recorded a 77.1 coverage grade and continues to show his willingness to play the run. He recorded a 79.7 run grade. While most corners avoid tackling, Jackson seems to love some contact. Jackson is starting to really come into his own as a shutdown cornerback. He has one of the lowest contested catch rates allowed this season, ranking third in this category.
RB Derrick Henry, 76.7/DeMarco Murray, 76.6 Overall Grades
The hype train coming into the season was that the Titans were going to dominate in the run game. As we all know, this hasn’t been the case much of this year. Both Henry and Murray have struggled at times and it hasn’t been their faults entirely. The offensive line has struggled and hasn’t played up to expectations. This week, Henry dominated with a late run for 75 yards to really seal the game. If you take that away, the Titans as a whole did not run the ball especially well. I place both players together this week because we have two number one running backs on this team, but the coaching staff needs to put these players in situations where they can thrive. Also, consistency from the offensive line would be nice as well.
DL Karl Klug, 81.4/Austin Johnson, 76.8 Overall Grades
As I said before, Jones is out for the year and these two players will need to step up their game for the Titans. Klug has been a consistent contributor for the Titans and is known for his pass rush ability. In Week 13, he dominated in run defense, grading at an 84.7. Johnson, a second-year player and a Penn State alumnus similar to Jones, needs to continue to get better each week. Johnson’s run and pass grades were 71.2 & 75.7 respectively; not the worst but will need to improve as he will be relied on heavily.
WR Corey Davis, 41.8 Overall Grade
The Titans No. 5 overall pick in the 2017 draft continues to have his highs and lows. This week, he was in the bottom five of PFF grades. Davis had two catches for 12 yards on four targets. With Rishard Matthews out, the Titans will continue to rely on Davis as WR1. Similar to Jackson, I was ready to staple bust all over him, but as the season has continued he has got increasingly better. I would say that we cannot place a bust label on Davis just yet, as he will continue to grow each week, plus we have seen the potential in him.
Only four games left and the Titans currently in the No. 3 seed position in the AFC. They are looking to add to the win column and tie their 2016 win total. The Titans have three NFC west opponents back-to-back-to-back, with two on the west coast. The Titans want to continue rolling and beat an Arizona Cardinals team that is still trying to make a playoff push. Below are the projected Week 14 lineups for the Titans.