Why the Tennessee Titans are lucky to have Taylor Lewan.
Tennessee Titans fans are quick to rush to attack players when they feel like they are the reason the team loses or struggles. I completely understand that frustration, but you have to talk about players that set you up to win to.
There hasn’t been a player whose popularity among the Titans fan base has shifted quite as quickly and frequently as Taylor Lewan.
On one hand, you have a true freak athlete at the position standing in at 6’7 with great technique and the aggression that every offensive line in the NFL craves. Setting the bar as one of the best players in the NFL at one of the most important positions, Lewan has become one of if not the best young left tackle in the NFL.
On the other hand, you have a guy that gets flags sometimes.
Wait. That can’t be right?
Nope, I just checked again and that is the big issues that people have with Lewan is that he gets flags? Luckily, Lewan had a chance to show just what a blessing it is for an offensive line to have a stud left tackle.
When you have a great tackle that shuts down one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, you can understand that pass rusher getting upset. Enter Yannick Ngakoue a talented young EDGE from Jacksonville.
Over his four year career, only he and Joey Bosa have 35+ sacks before turning 25. However, in 8 games played against the Tennessee Titans he has managed just two sacks. One of those came in 2016 when he got to backup QB Matt Cassel who didn’t get rid of the ball quickly enough and the other came last night.
The sack last night came one play after this dirty hit from Ngakoue forced Lewan out of the game:
On the one play where Lewan was out, Ngakoue got a strip sack and foiled a Titans drive that was inside the 10-yard line threatening to score.
Then, silence. I mean sure, there was yapping all night long from Ngakoue and Calais Campbell who both targeted Lewan with late hits trying to get him flagged for retaliation, but I mean in terms of Ngakoue he was a non factor.
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Maybe that is too much credit because in one of the few times where Ngakoue ended up lined up on Lewan’s side (I believe Ngakoue followed the tight end), that just so happened to be right where the Titans ran it as Derrick Henry rushed for a 74-yard touchdown. All the while Ngakoue was barking at Lewan and in his face down the field trying to get him to retaliate.
The point is, when you are great and you play with an edge there are times where you are forced to retaliate or be a victim. Lewan was a victim last night as the target of cheap shots and attempts to get him flagged based off of reputation.
He showed restraint, but you can only get hit like that so many times before you are forced to take action if the refs won’t and that is all part of his game. If he laid down every time this happened then he wouldn’t be the cocky/dominant presence that he is play in and play out.
You have to take the good with the bad and last night hopefully reminded fans that there is a lot of good to only the occasional bad, and that is a trade that you and I (and every coach in the NFL) should be willing to make.