Tennessee Titans: Instant analysis of Preseason Week 3 loss to Steelers

Here’s some instant analysis from the Tennessee Titans’ Preseason Week 3 18-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Things didn’t go so well in the Tennessee Titans’ dress rehearsal on Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

While the first-team defense looked great as usual, the first-team offense was quite the opposite, namely because of poor offensive line play.

Let’s take a look.

First-team offense

This was not a good game for the Tennessee Titans’ first-team offense in the dress rehearsal on Sunday night. Marcus Mariota played in just two series with nearly a full complement of starters, with the exception of running back Derrick Henry.

Before we get into the specifics, I just have to say the Steelers defense looks scary. Let’s not forget that some of the Titans’ struggles had to do with how well Pittsburgh played on D.

First series: On the Titans’ opening drive, the Steelers gifted Marcus Mariota and Co. two penalties, but the Titans were unable to capitalize. Mariota failed to complete either of his passes, one of which was an overthrown deep ball to Corey Davis, and the other was a drop on a screen pass to Adam Humphries. Strangely enough, the Titans decided to run it on third and long, basically giving up on the drive. The Titans came out using 12 personnel to start the game.

Second series: A.J. Brown came out for his first action of the game and got a target on the series’ first play, but he couldn’t hang on after taking a hit over the middle. The drive ended before it could get off the ground when the Titans allowed a sack that led to a safety on the next play. The Titans were setup in terrible field position after Adoree’ Jackson decided not to catch a punt that landed on the four yard line. The Titans used three-receiver sets in this particular drive.

Mariota was removed from the game after just two series. The struggles on offense can’t be blamed on the Titans signal-caller, though. He was let down by his offensive line and receivers, and the play calling was not good, which could be a result of the Titans trying not to show too much.

Tennessee Titans.

NASHVILLE, TN – AUGUST 17: Marcus Mariota #8 talks with Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Tennessee Titans on the sidelines during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week three of preseason at Nissan Stadium on August 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Ryan Tannehill got first-team reps

After Mariota’s two drives, the Titans inserted Ryan Tannehill into the game to get reps with a lot of the first-team offense. Tannehill got multiple drives with some of the Titans’ starters.

Tannehill completed a nice 25-yard pass to Davis on his second drive, and was able to lead the Titans to a field goal in that case. There wasn’t much else to speak of for Tannehill, who finished 6-of-9 for 62 yards. He was sacked three times.

Tennessee Titans.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – AUGUST 25: Vince Williams #98 of the Pittsburgh Steelers sacks quarterback Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Tennessee Titans during the first half of a preseason game at Nissan Stadium on August 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Starting offensive line and its struggles

Nothing surprising here. The Titans’ starting offense line was as follows:

LT Dennis Kelly

LG Rodger Saffold

C Ben Jones

RG Kevin Pamphile

RT Jack Conklin

The only position that was still somewhat in question was right guard, with Jamil Douglas having seen reps with the first team in the past. Now that Pamphile came out to start the dress rehearsal, it appears he has that spot locked up. It must be noted that he did struggle, though.

As far as performance goes, the Titans’ O-line as a whole did not look good at all. Kelly and Pamphile both struggled mightily, and the Titans O-line allowed four sacks during the first half.

The Titans have a rough slate of pass-rushers to start the season, so this is not a good sign with Taylor Lewan suspended for the first four weeks.

A.J. Brown recorded his first catch

Brown recorded a 10-yard reception for his first preseason catch on a pass from Tannehill. Brown would have had another catch before that one, but his 12-yard reception was called back thanks to a penalty by Pamphile.

Brown was unable to reel in his first target of the game on a pass over the middle from Mariota after taking a hit from a Steelers defender.

Jeremy McNichols shows up again

There have been three constants for the Titans during the preseason: death, taxes, and Jeremy McNichols.

The former fifth-round pick had another stellar outing on Sunday night, turning nine carries into 43 yards (4.8 yards per carry). His best carry of the night was a 23-yard scamper with the Titans offense doing nothing else to move the ball.

If David Fluellen won’t be back for the start of the season or the Titans decide to carry four backs, McNichols should be a lock to make the 53-man roster.

NASHVILLE, TN – AUGUST 25: JuJu Smith-Schuster #19 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is tackled after catching a pass by Wesley Woodyard #59 of the Tennessee Titans during week three of preseason at Nissan Stadium on August 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

First-team defense

The Steelers’ opening drive ended with a punt. The Titans defense allowed 22 yards on six plays, including one first down.

On Pittsburgh’s second drive, the Titans’ first-team defense came to play once again. After allowing another first down, the Titans forced the Steelers to punt.

The Titans’ backups came in on defense for the Steelers’ third drive, despite Pittsburgh keeping their offensive starters in.

Not surprisingly, the Titans’ first-team defense was solid once again, as has been the case all preseason. If the Titans offense plays like it did in Preseason Week 3, Tennessee will need every bit of effort from its defense.

Harold Landry’s replacement

With Landry sitting out once again, the Titans deployed Sharif Finch in his place with the first-team defense, with Cameron Wake as the other EDGE. Finch has enjoyed an impressive preseason and will be the No. 1 option off the bench at EDGE for the Titans this season.

Adoree’ Jackson was a mess

Not only did Adoree’ Jackson miss a few tackles, he failed to return or even catch his two punt return opportunities. The second failed punt return attempt was particularly bad, with Jackson not attempting to catch the ball, and instead opting to let it drop. The Steelers would end up downing the ball on the four yard line and it set Tennessee’s offense up with terrible field position.

Brett Kern is a beast

The Titans punter is still sensational. He had two punts that averaged 68.5 yards, with a long of 70 yards. Kern will be busy in 2019 if the Titans offense continues to play like this.

Taywan Taylor is in trouble

Taylor might have seen one snap in the first half, but he got all of his action in the final two quarters. He finished with just two catches for 14 yards, and was outplayed by fellow receiver, Kalif Raymond, who finished with five catches for 58 yards, including a 23-yard reception.

At this point, it looks as though Taylor will be buried on the depth chart at best, but being cut altogether shouldn’t be ruled out. It has been a rough preseason for the former third-round pick.

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