Wild Card Weekend Tennessee Titans Pro Football Focus Grades.
The slogan “us against everybody” is a perfect slogan for the Tennessee Titans, because no one other than the players, coaches and fans believed that they could shock the world. They did it in true Titans fashion, pulling out a win by the skin of their teeth!
Going into halftime, it looked like the fat lady was warming up to sing. The Titans produced an eight-minute drive to start the second half and you could see the tide started to turn in the Titans’ favor. Nothing was more impressive than when Marcus Mariota scored on one of the most bizarre plays I have ever seen, a touchdown to himself. (Thanks Marcus for double fantasy points on DraftKings!) The momentum had swung and the Titans got back to hard nosed, ground and pound football, which helped set them up for victory. If the Titans want to win, their playmakers need step up, and they did, which is reflected in the Pro Football Focus grades.
Top 5 Performances:
RB Derrick Henry, 88.6 Overall Grade
LG Quinton Spain, 87.6 Overall Grade
DL Jurrell Casey, 86.6 Overall Grade
TE Delanie Walker, 82.1 Overall Grade
RG Josh Kline, 80.8 Overall Grade
This was the breakout game that fans have been waiting for. For King Henry to prove that he could be the Titans’ workhorse for years to come. I think the fans got their answer. Henry had 23 carries for 156 yards and one touchdown, averaging 6.8 yards per carry. Not to mention that he was able to break five tackles and of those 156 yards, 83 of them were after contact.
Henry has said all season that when he continues to get carries, he gets stronger. Well, that was true last Saturday. He had two key runs of 15 yards and one for 35 yards in the beginning of the fourth and a 22-yard run that sealed it. This week, the Titans want to establish the run and show dominance, and again, Henry is going to be the guy. The Titans have a clear advantage up front so they need to exploit the Patriots’ weak front seven.
Finally, after all the hard work, Casey got his first playoff appearance and showed the opponents the damage he can do. What continues to set him apart this season is his work in the pass rush, as he led the Titans with five total pressures. Casey continues to dominate in stopping the run. His run stopping percentage was a 16.7%, which was tied for fifth in the NFL during the weekend. Lastly, he continues to lead the team in both pass rush and run defense grades, recording an 84.3 and 82.5, respectively.
Big time players will step up when the game is on the line and Walker, who is facing a ton of injuries, continues to play hard and compete. Walker was ranked as the number two overall tight end this week, recording six catches for 74 yards. Walker’s receiving grade of 84.3 led the team, and he also had a decent week in run blocking, recording a 73.4.
Walker will again be a huge part of the game plan this week, as the linebackers have struggled all season for the Patriots. Walker will be facing a tough competitor in Patrick Chung, but he has allowed his man to catch the ball 51% of the time. If the Titans want to win, Walker will be the focal point of the game plan this week.
LG Quinton Spain, 87.6/RG Josh Kline, 80.8/C Ben Jones, 78.7/LT Taylor Lewan, 78.4/RT Jack Conklin, 78.2 Overall Grades
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The Titans offensive line as a whole dominated for what feels like the first time all season. Each lineman was top three at their respective positions this week, which is what fans have been expecting all season. Only giving up one sack against a decent front seven is something to be proud of. When it comes to the run game, the unit dominated all day, which let Henry run all over the Chiefs defense.
The left side was the strong side for the Titans, as they continued to attack through the left pretty much the entire game. Titans fans should get ready for more of that, as the right side of the defensive line has been terrible most of the year for the Patriots. Eric Lee and Adam Butler both has performed horrible this year, 42.1 and 50.6 respectively as both players season grades. The big men up front should have a field day moving this weak front seven around.
QB Marcus Mariota, 77.8 Overall Grade
Mariota’s first playoff game of his career was one for the ages. What really stood out, other than his touchdown pass to himself, was his ability to be effective using his legs. Mariota picked up four first downs while earning a 91.3 run grade.
Mariota was able to dominate in the middle of the field, completing 16 of 19 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown. I think that this is an area that the Titans will need to exploit against New England, as this has been a significant weakness for them. Another area where the Titans can exploit the Patriots is in play action passing. Against the Chiefs, Mariota was 7 of 10 for 70 yards when using play action. Marcus has continued to dominate in this area all season, but the Titans will need to establish the run first.
NT Sylvester Williams, 75.5 Overall Grade
Williams was brought in to be a run stuffer and for a majority of the year, he was not impressive. Against the Chiefs, Williams played great against the run. Williams’ run stop percentage was 16.7%, tied for fifth with Jurrell Casey this week. Williams’ run grade was a 75.8, which was top five on the team. The Titans have been hoping Williams can be a key cog, and the clip below shows the potential he has and needs to continue to show.
CB Tye Smith, 71.4 Overall Grade
The Titans’ highest grading corner in Wild Card weekend was Tye Smith. Smith has not only stepped up to help the secondary, but he has replaced a struggling Brice McCain. Smith was targeted four times, giving up three receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown. He has a big task in front of him this week, and he will need to continue to show that he can be a reliable corner. The Titans will need to attack the corner position in the draft, but I am pulling for Smith and hope he can have continued success.
CB Logan Ryan, 66.0 Overall Grade
This is the time of year that players must play through some bumps and bruises. You can clearly see that Ryan is doing all he can to help as he plays on an ailing ankle. Even though Ryan was only on the field for 51 snaps, the Chiefs attacked him often. With a team-high six targets, he allowed four receptions for only 18 yards. Logan has been very impressive and was a shutdown corner against the Chiefs. Next up is his former team. Let’s hope he can give the Titans defense some insight into stopping an ageless Tom Brady.
WRs Corey Davis, 70.4/Taywan Taylor, 57.9/Eric Decker, 50.8/Rishard Matthews, 47.3 Overall Grades
This has been a storyline throughout the entire season, but when will any of the wide receivers get on the same page with Mariota? This unit has taken a complete 180 from the prior year and might be where a coaching change comes about this offseason. Davis was targeted seven times this game, which is the highest among the wide receivers, but only produced 47 yards. Decker, for the second game in a row, had a case of the drops, but redeemed himself with the go-ahead touchdown. Taylor and Matthews did nothing in this game, which again is frustrating.
This group has a very difficult task ahead, as they are going up against a very tough secondary in New England. Two players that Titans might have the ability to exploit is the nickel corners, Eric Rowe and Jonathan Jones, as they have graded at a 45.8 and 77, respectively. Combined, both players have allowed 39 receptions for 611 yards and three touchdowns this season. I could see Taylor or Decker having a nice game on Saturday.
CB Adoree’ Jackson, 39.5 Overall Grade
This is Jackson’s lowest grade in a few weeks, which is a good thing, as the rookie continues to develop. Jackson had a very big assignment last week covering Tyreek Hill. Jackson was targeted five times and gave up three receptions for 46 yards. This stat line is not huge, but if Hill would have caught some passes he dropped, we would be having a different conversation. On Saturday, Jackson most likely will have another huge assignment again, covering the speedy Brandin Cooks.
The tweet above says all I really need to say. Titans players, coaches and fans just need to believe. The Titans are in the Elite 8 and fans should be excited! If the Titans want to win this game, they need to establish a similar game plan like they did against the Chiefs. On defense, they need to apply pressure on Brady, double cover Gronk at all times and shut down Cooks. On offense, continue to feed number 22, as the Pats are horrible against the run, and exploit the middle of the field with Walker and Decker. If the Titans are able to establish this game plan, I BELIEVE the Titans will win.
As the Titans continue to keep this memorable season rolling, PFF projected the Divisional Round lineups for the Titans.
At Titan Sized, we have provided a ton of great articles from a bevy of great contributors on how the Titans have the ability to BEAT the Patriots! Check out it all out!