Notable Week 15 Pro Football Focus grades for the Tennessee Titans.
The Tennessee Titans’ road trip ended with two flat tires against two dull rocks, one in Arizona and the other in San Francisco. Miscommunication, execution and continuous coaching mistakes have led the Titans down a road that will be nothing but smooth in the final two weeks. In Week 15, the Titans offense as a whole played well when in uptempo, no-huddle offense, showing how great this team can really be in the hands of their quarterback.
Again, the defense continues to be stout against the run, which is why they are currently third in the NFL in rush defense. The secondary, on the other hand, might have had its second-worst performance of the year as Jimmy Garoppolo threw to wide open receivers and sealed the victory.
The Titans have had many ups and downs this season, similar to the players’ Pro Football Focus grades. This team will need its stars to step up as they face two good teams down the stretch. Below are the top five PFF performers for the Titans from Week 15.
Top 5 Performances:
DL Jurrell Casey, 89.2 Overall Grade
WR Rishard Matthews, 85.3 Overall Grade
QB Marcus Mariota, 83.4 overall Grade
S Da’Norris Searcy, 81.4 overall Grade
LB Wesley Woodyard, 80.8 Overall Grade
Casey had a dominant day against the struggling 49ers offensive line. One thing that is really shocking is that Casey did not obtain one pressure in this game. This is the first game that he has not had at least one pressure in all year. Casey did rack up one batted ball and five stops against the run, which makes it 30 stops on the season, the second-highest number in the NFL. He led all 3-4 defensive ends in run stop percentage in Week 15 with a 22.7%. He recorded an 88.8 run defense grade and an 82.3 pass rush grade, both of which led the team.
Most Titans fans thought this was going to be Mariota’s fifth comeback win of the year and continue to lead all quarterbacks in that category. He was able to do so, but as you know, terrible play calling and mismanagement of time led the team to lose their second straight game. What stands out to me in Week 15 is that Mariota’s passer rating was a 109.4 under no pressure and 111.3 when under pressure. Even in a loss, Mariota’s stat line was nothing but impressive, completing 23 of 33 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns.
He did everything that he could to put the Titans in position to win the game. Another note is the offense excelled while in no-huddle and when Marcus is calling the shots. As most Titans fans have heard, the players want to continue to run this style of offense. They believe that it works and puts them in the best position to win, which the Titans desperately need to do.
Matthews continues to be the best wide receiver for the Titans on Sundays. He caught all of his six targets, which were all against different defenders. Matthews was one of the Titans who was vocal about letting Mariota take charge and hasn’t been shy about telling you how he feels. I think the Titans players want a change when it comes to the offensive mind, and the players want Mariota. What is the worst that could happen? They lose to a good team. We have already seen them lose to bad teams because of coaching and play calling.
The Titans secondary struggled all game long, but one safety had a good game for the Titans. Searcy has been a great rotational player for the Titans. His style of play is similar to Johnathan Cyprien’s, as he is more of a run defender but has played well in coverage. His coverage grade was a 70.2, third highest on the team in Week 15. Searcy had a good game against the run, grading at a 78.7, which was second-highest among the secondary. With two weeks to go and a secondary that has struggled and been banged up, the Titans will need help from Searcy and the entire secondary.
Woodyard was one of the Titans’ Pro Bowl snubs this year, and he continues to dominate in run defense, grading as the second-highest player in run defense at an 87.1 and helping the Titans continue to shut down run-first offenses. Where the Titans really need to improve this offseason is coverage from the linebackers. Woodyard graded at a 48.9 in coverage, giving up three receptions. As Jayon Brown continues to grow, this is another area where the Titans need to find a player who can do it all at the linebacker position.
DT Austin Johnson, 80.7 Overall Grade
A player I have been talking about for two weeks now is continuing to make a statement as to why he needs to be on the field. Yes, the Titans are missing DaQuan Jones, but Johnson is doing a great job filling into his very big shoes. Johnson has been a player that has played well in both run and pass defense. He graded at 77.5 in pass defense and 76.3 in run defense. Johnson had a total of three pressures, which led the defensive line, but also had a 94.4% rush percentage on 17 pass rush snaps.
RT Jack Conklin, 80.2 Overall Grade
Sadly, Conklin was not elected to the Pro Bowl, but he is an alternate and rightly deserves it. Conklin did struggle early in the year, but he has been the most consistent offensive lineman for the Titans. In recent weeks, he has struggled in run blocking but has turned the tide, recording an 89.8 grade this week, which was a team high. After so many weeks of great pass protection, he struggled this week, recording a 67.8 and giving up four pressures. This offensive line has a tough matchup against some of the best defensive linemen in the league next week, so the Titans’ line has to be on their A game.
CB Adoree’ Jackson, 79.1 Overall Grade
In Week 15, the Titans played a ton of off coverage, which allowed the Niners to rack up a ton of yards. Jackson had his ups and downs in this game and was targeted 12 times, which was a team high. Jackson had two pass breakups, one of which should have been an interception. As the Titans played off coverage, slants were their worst enemy; Jackson gave up 77 of the total 88 yards on slants. As we know, Jackson is better when he is in close quarters with the receiver. My big emphasis all year has been the Titans have not adapted to their players, which is affecting their ability to succeed and win football games.
LB Kevin Dodd, 74.3 Overall Grade
A Dodd sighting this season is almost as rare as seeing Big Foot. Surprisingly, Dodd played well for the Titans, primarily in run downs. He recorded a grade of 81.9 in run defense but was horrible in pass rush, recording a 51.9. I think this might be the last year for Dodd on the roster, as they are desperate to look for youth at the edge position.
S/CB Kevin Byard, 43.4 / Logan Ryan, 42.3 / Brice McCain, 37.2/ Johnathan Cyprien, 35.4 Overall Grades
I will keep this short and sweet: Overall as a unit, the secondary flat out stunk. They let a young Niners team pass and catch all over them. Byard stated that it was a communication issue and McCain said Jimmy G isn’t that good because he tossed the ball to open receivers. Well, if they were open, wouldn’t you think to maybe cover someone? McCain is back down from his high grade from last week, but the other secondary guys might have had their worst grades all season. Ryan hasn’t practiced, Sims pulled a hamstring and the Titans face a good receiving corps this coming week. It is not looking great for an already struggling secondary. Again, an area that needs to be addressed this offseason.
TE Delanie Walker, 39.1 Overall Grade
Walker’s homecoming was not such a warm welcome. Walker had his worse game as a Titan, missing a perfectly placed pass in the end zone and fumbling the football. These two mishaps are similar to a Dodd sighting: rare. Walker struggled in all facets of his game, recording a 42.7 receiving grade and a 46.5 run blocking grade. These two elite qualities are what makes Walker so important to this offense. Titans fans know Walker and he should have a good bounce back game.
Two weeks left and it is make or break for the Titans. If the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens lose and the Titans beat the Rams, they will make the playoffs, which hasn’t happened since 2008. The Titans will need to win at least one of these next two games to have a shot at the playoffs. I will say that if this team doesn’t make the playoffs, it might be time for the Titans fire the coaching staff and hopefully bring someone that is willing to adapt to the players around him. The Titans still have a chance and a big challenge ahead of them. Below are the projected Week 16 lineups for the Titans.