Tennessee Titans have an advantage over Arizona in one distinct area
By Will Lomas
On Sunday, the Tennessee Titans will debut their much-improved offense versus an Arizona Cardinals defense that has more questions than answers right now. Last year the Cardinals defense allowed 22.6 points per game which was slightly above average, but there have been a lot of changes on that side of the ball, and not necessarily for the better.
The team lost Haason Reddick who led the team in sacks (12.5), TFLs (11), and QB hits (16). While people are quick to point out the addition of J.J. Watt, he only finished the 2020 season with five sacks.
Chandler Jones should help, but he was showing signs of aging in 2020 before his injury knocked him out for the season. Is he going to come back and be the player he was in 2019?
If the pass rush is worse in Arizona than it was in 2020, that is going to put a lot of pressure on what is almost certainly going to be their worst position group: cornerbacks. That means that the Tennessee Titans wide receivers should dominate in the passing game this week.
What cornerbacks will the Tennessee Titans see?
Currently, the Arizona Cardinals’ depth chart says that Robert Alford and Byron Murphy are set to play on the boundaries with no clear slot cornerback.
Due to a broken leg (2019) and a torn pectoral (2020), Robert Alford hasn’t played a snap in the NFL in 985 days. That should be a massive concern for the Cardinals who are going to throw him right into the fire by asking him to cover A.J. Brown or Julio Jones in his first action back.
Murphy is in his third season and he has seen plenty of action during his two years in the NFL. That might sound more reassuring than it should however because after a tough rookie year on the boundary the Cardinals moved him inside as a slot cornerback in 2020.
In either position, he has struggled to keep receivers from catching the ball allowing a 69% completion rate when he is in coverage.
With Malcolm Butler’s future with the team murky and confusing, the Cardinals didn’t have much time to prepare for this decision while the Tennessee Titans have meticulously brought Julio Jones along slowly throughout camp while also keeping A.J. Brown present but rested.
While the Cardinals’ young linebackers and safeties are forced to keep an eye on Derrick Henry, they are going to put a lot of pressure on those cornerbacks to hold up against elite receivers. That is what the Tennessee Titans should exploit, and that is where the offense should dominate on Sunday.