Tennessee Titans: Instant analysis of Preseason win over Eagles

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 08: Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans looks to hand off to teammate Jeremy McNichols #30 against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter of a preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on August 8, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 08: Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans looks to hand off to teammate Jeremy McNichols #30 against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter of a preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on August 8, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images) /
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Here’s some instant analysis of the Tennessee Titans’ victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the preseason opener on Thursday night.

With the Tennessee Titans having handled business against the Philadelphia Eagles in the preseason opener, it’s time to take a closer look at some of the more important things that happened in the game.

First-team offense

Quarterback Marcus Mariota played just one series in this contest on the opening drive. The Oregon product looked OK for the most part, as he completed 4-of-8 passes for 24 yards.

All four of his completions went to wide receiver Adam Humphries, two of which went for first downs. After targeting Humphries on six of the eight passes he threw, it’s clear there’s some early chemistry between the pair.

The first-team offensive line looked like this:

LT: Dennis Kelly

LG: Jamil Douglas

C: Ben Jones

RG: Kevin Pamphile

RT: Jack Conklin

The Titans have used numerous groupings during training camp, and this was the one they used with the first-team offense on Thursday night.

Both left guard Rodger Saffold and right guard Nate Davis did not play. Saffold will of course be the starter once the season begins, but we still don’t have a handle on the battle between Pamphile and Davis.

It appears Davis is dealing with some kind of injury, so Pamphile is quickly earning a leg up on the rookie guard. Left tackle Taylor Lewan got some time in with the second-team offense, leaving room for Kelly to get some reps with the starters.

Three-receiver formations

The Titans were using three-receiver formations in this game. And it wasn’t just with the first-team offense, the Titans were using them throughout the game, regardless of who was on the field. We even saw Tennessee spread it out near the goal line on one situation.

With all these new weapons on offense, it appears offensive coordinator Arthur Smith is going to utilize them plenty by having more receivers on the field during games. This is a great sign for a Titans passing attack that finished 29th in passing yards per game in 2018.

Tennessee Titans quarterback, Ryan Tannehill.
PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 08: Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Tennessee Titans reacts against the Philadelphia Eagles in the second quarter of the preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on August 8, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Ryan Tannehill was sharp

Backup quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sharp in his Titans debut. He completed 75 percent of his passes for 130 yards and two scores. His numbers could have been better, but his receivers dropped three of his pass attempts.

Wide receiver Taywan Taylor was responsible for two of those drops, one of which came in the end zone.

Of course, Tannehill is playing this well against backups, however it beats the alternative of him playing poorly against a bunch of second- and third-stringers, thus making it encouraging to see.

Regardless, the Titans have themselves a solid backup in the event Mariota gets hurt.

Taywan Taylor’s rough night

It was not a good night for Taylor overall after he dropped two passes from Tannehill. Another one of his targets was ruled incomplete after he failed to get both of his feet down in bounds on a pass from QB Logan Woodside.

Taylor finished with just two catches for 16 yards on five targets. Clearly he could have had much more, including a touchdown reception.

Tennessee Titans wide receiver, Kalif Raymond.
PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 08: Kalif Raymond #14 of the Tennessee Titans is tackled by Jeremiah McKinnon #38 of the Philadelphia Eagles in the second quarter during a preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on August 8, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

Kalif Raymond with another strong showing

One receiver who did have an excellent night was Kalif Raymond. The training camp standout not only caught a team-high six passes for 80 yards, but he also returned a kickoff for 24 yards and averaged 11.7 yards per punt return in three attempts.

He barely missed getting in the end zone on one reception, falling short by mere inches. He was a major catalyst for the Titans moving the ball down the field on multiple drives.

The 24-year-old speedster continues to make the case that he belongs on this roster with the season just one month away.

Alex Barnes is falling fast

Running back Jeremy McNichols was the best player out of the Titans’ backfield on Thursday night. He carried the rock eight times for 44 yards, although 37 of those yards were on one run. Still, McNichols had a few strong gains in this one.

Kansas State product and UDFA Alex Barnes was non-existent in the first preseason game. He carried the ball 10 times for 14 yards, and was outdone by both McNichols and fellow back, Dalyn Dawkins, who also had 10 carries but totaled a team-high 44 yards on the ground.

At the moment, Barnes is on the bottom of the pecking order as far as the Titans’ running backs go, which is a far cry from the player who was riding the hype train into training camp. He hasn’t done anything to emerge in camp, and this first preseason game did not help his standing.

Titans cornerback Adoree' Jackson is working on improving mentally.
LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 21: Adoree Jackson #25 of the Tennessee Titans looks on prior to the NFL International Series game between Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Chargers at Wembley Stadium on October 21, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images) /

Adoree’ Jackson got beat deep

Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson got challenged early on in this contest and did not pass the test.

Eagles wide receiver Marken Michel got behind Jackson on a deep post route and made a house call on a 75-yard strike from the arm of quarterback Nate Sudfeld. Jackson made a diving effort to break the pass up once he was beat, but it failed miserably and helped Michel score.

The Eagles did challenge Jackson deep again later in the game, but the third-year pro was able to stave-off the attempt and break it up. The Titans were beat deep too often last season and Jackson has to clean that up if this team’s secondary is going to improve in 2019.

The Titans’ defense was solid overall, aside from Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert having a field day in the first half with three receptions for 50 yards. Tennessee allowed 227 yards of total offense on Thursday night, albeit against mostly backups playing on the Eagles’ offense.

Again, it sure as hell beats the alternative.

Too many penalties

In all, the Titans had 12 penalties for 117 yards. In fact, the first offensive drive of the game started with a false start, and the offensive line had multiple penalties throughout the course of the game. Things weren’t great on defense, either.

Head coach Mike Vrabel specifically spoke about limiting penalties prior to this game, and the Titans can’t afford to give up yardage like this during the season. Expect Vrabel to make this a major point of emphasis between now and the start of the season.