Notable Week 17 Tennessee Titans Pro Football Focus Grades.
For the first time in over nine years, the Tennessee Titans secured a playoff berth with another ugly win against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The offense yet again was unproductive, but a massive stiff arm by the silent assassin also known as Marcus Mariota helped seal the victory. Over the past month, the Titans defense has been a dominant force, and in Week 17, the defense shined again, allowing only three points and causing havoc on the Jaguars offense. This resulted in the defense leading the charge in the Pro Football Focus grades.
Top 5 Performances:
ILB Avery Williamson, 88.5 Overall Grade
CB Adoree’ Jackson, 88 Overall Grade
FS Kevin Byard, 85.7 Overall Grade
ILB Jayon Brown, 79.5 Overall Grade
EDGE Brian Orakpo, 75.7 Overall Grade
The Jaguars offense is known as a run-first unit, and in Week 17, they struggled. A big reason for that was due to Williamson dominating in the run game. Williamson recorded five solo tackles and seven assisted tackles, which was tied for the most solo tackles in the NFL. Avery posted an impressive 93 run defense grade, and has been a one of the best linebackers all season in this category. He is in the final year of his rookie contract and if the Titans were smart, they will re-sign him.
Jackon has been a rookie that was continuously picked on early this season but has improved drastically. I will be the first to admit that I was not a fan of the selection, but Jackson has won me over. He impressed again by only allowing two catches on six targets for 16 yards. A play that stood out was his Peanut Tillman-like strip which led to points late in the first half.
With all the rookie corners playing well across the league, Adoree’ seems to get overlooked, as he ranks as the 29th best corner in all of football. Yes, most everyone would say only 29th, but Jackson continues to make strides and can continue to prove me wrong, as he has a big responsibility this week against the electric Tyreek Hill.
Second-year safety Byard currently leads the NFL with 10 total turnovers (eight interceptions and two fumble recoveries). Somehow, he still got snubbed from the Pro Bowl. You cannot tell me that he is not playing at an All-Pro level this season and I would be shocked if he didn’t get the nod (editor’s note: Byard made first-team All-Pro!). Byard has continued to put together a great season and had a very productive day. He forced two turnovers and only allowed three catches for 39 yards. Byard will need to continue to create turnovers against a quarterback who has only thrown five interceptions all season.
Brown is another Titans rookie who had a great performance in Week 17. Brown has been the coverage linebacker and showed why they rely on him. He recorded an 82.6 coverage grade and allowed two receptions on three targets for 17 total yards. Similar to Jackson, he will have a tough matchup against the NFL’s leading rusher and a great tight end in Travis Kelce.
Orakpo is too old and the Titans need youth at the edge position is what I said last week. Well, in a win-and-in situation, Orakpo found the fountain of youth as he dominated in pass rush situations. He recorded a 78.9 pass rush grade and recorded four total pressures, which included a sack and two hurries. The edge rusher will be going against former first overall pick LT Eric Fisher, who has been shaky all season.
RB Derrick Henry, 74.8 Overall Grade
Finally, the Titans got to see how well Henry would fare as the lead guy. Sadly, the performance was lackluster, but I’ll give the guy some credit: It was his first start and with more playing time, he should get better. Henry rushed 28 times for 51 yards, resulting in a 1.8 yards per carry average. His terrible running performance was trumped by his 66-yard screen pass that went for a touchdown, which almost doubled his total receiving yards this season. Henry defined his performance as soft and I think most would agree.
Henry has been know for breaking tackles and producing yards after contact. The Titans will need to see more of this on Saturday. The big man needs to use his rare size and speed to help the Titans establish the dominant run game that they have been desperately looking for all season.
RT Jack Conklin, 74 Overall Grade
The most consistent offensive lineman continues to be the most consistent. Conklin and most of the offensive line have struggled in the running game, and in this game it was no different. Conklin’s run grade was a 46.8, which sadly wasn’t the lowest grade (Taylor Lewan recorded a 33.9). What has continued to surprise me is how well he has been performing in pass blocking, recording a 78.6 grade, which was highest among the offensive line. Conklin will be facing one of the best pass rushers in all of football on Saturday in Justin Houston, and the Titans will need him to bring his “A” game.
QB Marcus Mariota, 69.5 Overall Grade
Mariota’s stat lines have not been the most appealing, but over the past few weeks, it has paid off. Mariota was 12 of 21 for 134 yards and a touchdown. Marcus will be docked a fumble for the collision with Henry, but it was obvious that Henry was the cause of it. Marcus, being the humble man he is, took the blame. What has been a staple all season is the lack of communication and how inconsistent the receivers have been all season. In this game alone, there were four drops, including three by Eric Decker.
If the Titans want to have success against the Chiefs, the Titans will need to establish the run to set up the play action. On play action passes, Mariota was three-of-three for 76 yards and a touchdown. Another way the offense can be productive is if Mariota continues to use his legs more, as the team has been very vocal about it. If the team wants to be successful, he needs to overcome the coaching.
LT Taylor Lewan, 83.7 to 53.3 Overall grade
PFF does a great job of providing instant grades, then after some evaluation, they provide final grades. Lewan was graded out at an 83.7, but after a detailed review, he was re-graded at a 53.3. Lewan struggled in the run game, grading at a 33.9, which, again, the Titans have struggled with all year as a whole. Where he stood out was in pass protection, grading at a 76.2 and did not allow a pressure at all on Sunday. Lewan will be facing Chris Jones often on Saturday, who has been a dominant 3-4 defensive end this season.
DE Jurrell Casey, 84.7 to 50.7 overall grade
Casey has a similar situation to Lewan, as he graded at an 84.7 originally and now is at a 50.7. This was very shocking to me because PFF normally does a great job on original grades. Casey stood out in pass rush situations; he recorded four total pressures, including a sack, a hit and two hurries. His pass rush productivity grade was second-highest in the NFL in Week 17 at a 10.8. This stat measures the pressure created on a per snap basis.
WRs Eric Decker, 40.1/Rishard Matthews, 39.8/Taywan Taylor, 50.5/Corey Davis, 47.9 Overall Grades
The Titans have been the best team all season at preventing drops. But in Week 17, the Titans had four, and thankfully that didn’t prevent the victory. Decker has been a big part of the offense as of late, but he led the team with three drops. This unit has struggled the most this year when it comes to communication and consistency. The offense took a huge step back and has been a disappointment, but this unit can turn the tide. If the Titans want to win some games in the playoffs, this offense needs to get more out of this unit.
It does not matter how great or bad the Titans have been this season. The slate is wiped clean and the Titans finally made it to the dance. This is an exciting time for the organization and who knows, maybe the Titans can make a run; this is the playoffs, and anything can happen. Below are the PFF lineups for the Titans.