Tennessee Titans: 3 key matchups vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
By John Lowell
3. Titans’ Offensive Line vs. Calais Campbell
This one matters the most to me, as it dictates what the Titans’ QB does with the football. Perhaps the slide should be renamed “Marcus Mariota vs. Marcus Mariota,” as he has struggled with his decision-making of late, unable to get through his progressions and deliver the ball on time.
Dare I venture down the rabbit hole that’s been eating away at me all week?
I’m referring to Mariota’s spike on third-and-2 that led to (but was not the cause of) the Week 2 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Once again, his decision-making was poor. A golden opportunity squandered; Marcus chose not to utilize an extra down and throw the ball.
In a perfect world, this would gain a first down, and enable the Titans to reset and spike it. The bad news? I’m not sure he was fully aware of the game situation. If the throw is incomplete, it stops the clock anyways. And how long does it take to run a quick out pattern or a five to seven-yard slant? Not having an opportunity at a field goal is inexcusable.
Let’s talk about Jacksonville Jaguars DE Calais Campbell for a second. Campbell is brute force personified, and despite multiple injuries, has not missed a game since 2014. He finished the 2018 season with 10.5 sacks and 72 tackles, 20 of them for loss.
Down two starters, the Titans’ makeshift offensive line is hanging on by a thread — trying to buy non-existent extra time for Mariota. Left tackle Dennis Kelly has put forth an admirable effort, and RT Jack Conklin seems to be back to form, but the middle of the line has seen better days.
The Jaguars shift Campbell around a lot. He gets snaps at the RE, RDT, LDT, and LE positions. This is why the matchup is the entire Titans’ O-Line. I fully expect Jaguars HC Doug Marrone to try to manipulate matchups, particularly in the interior.
If Marrone is half the coach he thinks he is, he’ll line Campbell up over Titans’ RG Jamil Douglas, and let rookie EDGE Josh Allen and DE Yannick Ngakoue attempt to feast off the edge. Campbell brings significant value as a run-stuffer, as well. The former Miami Hurricane had the second-most run stops among defensive lineman in the league last year with 43. Look for him to generate pressure on Mariota, and muddy the waters in the trenches.