Notable Week 14 Pro Football Focus grades for the Tennessee Titans.
The Tennessee Titans finally felt the other end of a close game. The Titans offense was extremely flat and couldn’t move the ball, which has been a trend for most of the season. Some fans will say it comes from the top and others say it’s on the players. At times, you can see there is mismanagement of the game by the coaching staff, but a few times this year, we are left shaking our heads asking “what was Marcus thinking?” With three weeks left, the Titans sit at 8-5 and the no. 5 seed in the playoffs. I would say that the Titans need to win at least two of the last three games to definitively secure a playoff berth. Another controversy has been the Titans staying in Arizona this week; I hope that it is for the best because the Titans really need to #TitanUp the offense.
The theme the last few weeks in my weekly article has been the defense playing lights out. For the loyal fans that are reading this: yes, this theme continues. The Titans recorded eigh sacks and only gave up four field goals. Any person would think this would get them a victory, but sadly it wasn’t enough. This game was rough to watch and the Pro Football Focus grades are similarly not good.
Top 5 Performances:
DL Karl Klug, 84 Overall Grade
CB Brice McCain, 81.3 Overall Grade
NT Sylvester Williams, 81 Overall Grade
DL Austin Johnson, 80.6 Overall Grade
TE Delanie Walker, 78.1 overall Grade
I brought up last week that two key contributors will need to play great to help replace the loss of DaQuan Jones. Well, Karl Klug and Austin Johnson were both top five performers in the first week without Jones. Klug, as fans know, is the situational pass rusher, but in Week 14, he was one of the top run-stopping defenders. Klug graded out in run defense at an 82. He was also another top performer for the Titans in the pass rush category, recording a 78.3, which was top three on the team.
The second player that needed to step up was Johnson. Johnson was known for his run-stopping ability at Penn State and it showed, grading second-highest on the team at an 83.8. Where Johnson needs to improve is within his pass rush, grading at a 61.4. If he continues to be the primary starter for the Titans, he will continue to develop and has three weeks to prove himself.
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Brice McCain is a guy that really has been on the downside of the PFF grades this year. Personally, I feel that McCain might be gone this coming year, as his performance has been lackluster, to say the least. Another hot take of mine is that the Titans will draft a corner rather high again to help bolster this 22nd ranked secondary. McCain might be playing for his job these next few weeks and we hope his performance stays consistent to what it was in Week 14. McCain had the best coverage grade for the Titans at an 81.2. The Titans will need to rely on McCain to play well down the stretch, as the Titans play some good wide receiving corps the final few weeks.
Sylvester Williams has seen the top five list twice this year, but similar to McCain, has been on the other side of these grades. Williams is a run-stuffing nose tackle but surprisingly did well in pass rush situations. The Cardinals offensive line hasn’t played well and Williams took advantage. His pass rush grade was a 79 overall, which was top five on the team in that category. I think Williams is in the same situation as McCain and will be playing for his job, even though he was just signed.
Delanie Walker is officially the Titans’ go-to player on offense and the only weapon that has been productive. On the final drive, Walker was targeted on a nice wheel route and the ball was kicked out of his hands. Then, on the next play, he caught the ball and dropped it after he was blasted and knocked out of the game. We won’t get into the final Titans offensive play, but if Walker didn’t need to be spelled out, he should have been the go-to target.
Even though Walker is the best option for the Titans through the air, he continues to dominate in the run game when it comes to blocking. His run blocking grade was a 79 and sadly the best grade in that category. On Sunday, Walker is going back to the Bay Area, where he played for a few years of his career. My question would be, can this be a “revenge game” for him? Either way, I hope he continues to dominate for the Titans because they need him.
LB Avery Williamson, 77.3 Overall Grade
Williamson continues to show his ability as a run-stuffer for the Titans. Williams had two total tackles, a sack and a run defense grade of 86.2, which was the highest on the team. Williamson continues to be a dominating run-stopper, but his issue is in coverage, grading at a 47.3.
DL Jurrell Casey, 76.9 Overall Grade
Casey caused havoc for the Cardinals offensive line all day on Sunday. He was able to register five total pressures and two sacks. Casey continues to rack up pressures and we are now seeing the sacks finally come. Casey recorded the highest pass rush grade of 81.4 and the Titans rushed the passer well as a whole. The Titans racked up eight total sacks and nine hurries against the Redbirds.
CB Adoree’ Jackson, 73.7 Overall Grade
The next-best cornerback for the Titans was the rookie. He recorded a 74.1 coverage grade, which was the second-best on the team. What I did see on Sunday was Jackson getting involved in run defense, recording three combined tackles. Jackson was targeted three times and allowed two receptions for 29 yards. He continues to improve every week and keeps showing the Titans that he can be the future CB1.
RT Jack Conklin, 72.9 overall grade
Conklin performed very well in pass blocking situations, recording an 81.7 grade, which was the highest on the team. Conklin only allowed one total pressure in Week 14, and has only allowed two sacks all season. Where he continues to struggle is his run blocking, which was a 38.1, a team-low grade. Conklin was also called for holding twice; one on DeMarco Murray’s 54-yard run and another that to me was a very weak call. Titans fans can hope that the offensive line has a sit-down to figure out this horrible season and get back in sync in the run game.
WR Corey Davis 72.1 Overall Grade
Davis is slowly getting better every week and recorded a 73.6 receiving grade. He was targeted six times and brought in three of those for only 29 yards. He will continue to get better and is getting important game reps. I know my patience is wearing down, but you can’t label a guy as a bust too early. I will give him a mulligan for now, but he needs to continue to show signs of improvement.
QB Marcus Mariota, 50.2 Overall Grade
News has recently come out that Mariota is still dealing with ankle and hamstring issues, and now has a sprained knee. These issues right here have hampered his performance over the last few weeks. We knew that Mariota did not have a ton of time to train properly this offseason as he was recovering from a broken leg. Titans fans and some of the national media really need to give the guy a break. You can see he is not properly stepping into throws and it also seems that he is in a hurry to get the ball out. These issues are really causing him to throw the “what are you thinking?” type of interceptions.
Marcus couldn’t get in sync with his wide receivers and really struggled throwing to the intermediate and deep areas. He was five of 16 for 88 yards and two interceptions on passes that went over 10 yards. Mariota has struggled this season and that is obvious, but we know that he understands that and is working to do what he can to get this team to the playoffs.
G Quinton Spain 48.3, Overall Grade/ C Ben Jones, 43.7 Overall grade
Similar to the defensive theme, the offensive line’s poor play has also been a theme. Two players that have taken a turn for the worse this season are Spain and Jones. Spain continues to be the “tough guy” on the offensive line and gave the Cardinals three points on a bone-headed play. He continues to struggle in pass blocking, recording a 47.9 and allowing a sack and four total pressures. This year, Spain has allowed 22 total pressures and has given up three sacks. Not only has he struggled in pass protection, but in the run game as well, recording a 58.6. Spain has been the weakest link on the Titans offensive line, owning a season long grade of 63.7.
The second weak link to this offensive line, which is rather shocking, is Jones. What was recently said is that he has an elbow injury. This may be the cause of his poor performance and low snaps in recent weeks. In Week 14, Jones struggled, recording a 29.7 in pass blocking and a 53.5 in run blocking. If an injury is to be true, I will give him a bit of a pass, but he has struggled and was brought in to be a key piece for the offensive line. Coming into the season, this offensive line had huge expectations on their shoulders and has yet to provide the results expected.
Titans fans need to R-E-L-A-X. There are three weeks left in the NFL season and the Titans are still in the driver’s seat. The Titans still have the ability to make the playoffs and win the division. Yes, the Titans would love to have that game back, but they still control their own destiny. The Titans go up against a San Francisco 49ers team that is catching a breath of fresh of air with a new QB under center. The Titans are a much better team, and I think an embarrassing loss will and should light a fire under them this week. Below are the Week 15 PFF projected lineups.