Tennessee Titans need to do the exact opposite of what they did in Week 1

Derrick Henry (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean)
Derrick Henry (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean) /

Few things are certain in life. Among those few certainties are death, taxes, and Mike Vrabel insisting that the Tennessee Titans’ offensive play calling is as close to 50/50 run-pass as possible.

Todd Downing gets a lot of deserved grief here on the internet, but that “balance” is one thing that isn’t his fault. Mike Herndon has reminded everyone this week that Vrabel has been preaching the value of the running game forever and that won’t change regardless of which running backs are on the field or who is calling the plays.

What Downing does have control over is when the Titans decide to call those runs, and he has made the absolute worst decisions on when to run.

Instead of mixing runs in when the Tennessee Titans are trying to gain a few yards, Downing seems to prefer that they gain as little as they can on first down and then try to dig themselves out of the hole from there.

Look at this Sam Phalen tweet which describes how poorly thought out the running game is right now:

The Tennessee Titans’ insistence on being a run-first team is a bad strategy to begin with, but what makes it worse is if you literally run on the first play of every drive.

Now, you might be thinking “But Will, they probably do this because they aren’t passing the ball well on first down, right?” Well, the last defender of Todd Downing, let me tell you how wrong that is.

Tennessee Titans are calling plays backward

Not only was Ryan Tannehill very efficient throughout the game, but he was exceptional when they let him throw the ball on first downs.

Ryan Tannehill had a perfect QB rating and two touchdowns on first-down passes, so maybe that is what you should start focusing on in the redzone.

The solution to most of the Tennessee Titans’ problems on offense is very simple. Instead of running on first downs two-thirds of the time, flip that and start passing on two-thirds of the first down plays.

Instead of letting Henry pass block on 2nd/3rd and short, let him run the ball and hope that he springs a long run when the defense isn’t expecting it as much.

It is too simplistic to say that the Titans should ask Todd Downing whether he wants to throw or run the ball and then pick the opposite choice, but unfortunately, that would have actually served them better than letting him make his own decisions last week.

The Titans won’t fire Downing in the middle of the season, but after seeing him make the wrong decision over and over for a year now, maybe they will quietly shift more control over to Tim Kelly who seems to have the passing game running smoothly.

At the very least someone needs to tell him that everyone knows that his strategy is to run the ball on first down and every team is willing to bet that he hasn’t learned from his mistakes. Please fix this because this team has plenty of talent thanks to a loaded rookie class and a good OC could make this team better than the 2021 group that won the #1 seed in the AFC South.