Todd Downing does just enough to help Tennessee Titans get first win

Tennessee Titans (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Tennessee Titans (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

The Tennessee Titans came away with a crucial win against the visiting Las Vegas Raiders.

Despite the win, lots of the same demons that have haunted Todd Downing’s offense reared their ugly head as the outcome became more uncertain as the 2nd half wore on.

If I had to guess, I would say that Todd Downing told the guys that if they played well enough in the first half they could all go out for ice cream after the game was over.

I kid, but one-half of offense was, in fact, all it took in the end.

Maybe Tim Kelly had more influence on the offense than he did over the last two weeks, maybe Todd Downing suddenly learned what works for the Tennessee Titans, but there is no doubt that the offense looked great in the first half.

How did the Tennessee Titans do it?

Mike Vrabel attributed the success to “just staying balanced early” saying “It felt like there were a lot of opportunities there.”

Which was true! They were unpredictable, creative, and balanced, and they funneled the ball to their best players which is exactly what so many fans were looking for in the first two weeks.

One of the best trends going right now is that the Titans are three for three on first drives this year, scoring 21 out of a possible 21 points.

Derrick Henry got a lot of usage both rushing and receiving with 143 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on 20 carries and 5 catches. He was highly effective and looked strong, answering a lot of questions that were lingering about his ability to still get it done following his slow start to the season.

Interestingly, Coach Vrabel gave us some rare insight into the coaching roles mentioning in the post-game press conference that “Tim [Kelly], he put together the run plan.”

Robert Woods had what you could consider a “breakout” game with 85 yards on 4 catches. He looked shifty and agile in an encouraging performance.

Ryan Tannehill admitted to a miscommunication on his interception, but aside from that mistake he looked reliable and steady, barely missing in the first half.

A lot of that success was thanks to the offensive line which protected him well for most of the game, despite still having trouble blocking for Derrick Henry at times.

There were a lot of good things to take away from the offense today. But in large part, the good things are overshadowed by the failure to get things going in the 2nd half.

Like Mike Vrabel said in his press conference, “Things complimented each other. Now we’ll have to get back and figure out ways to duplicate that going forward and especially in the 2nd half”

Yes, they definitely do need to figure out how to duplicate their first-half success because as soon as the first half was over, the Titan’s offense froze up like a broken gas station slushie machine.

Once is a fluke, twice is a problem, and three times is a pattern.

In the last three games, the Titans have scored 7 total points in the 2nd half and have yet to score in the fourth quarter; abysmal late in games.

It was a tale of two halves for Ryan Tannehill who had the green light in the first half going 14 for 17 and racking up nearly 200 yards and two touchdowns. After that, he had only managed to get 70 yards with 10 attempts in the 2nd half and guys like Treylon Burks and Robert Woods basically disappeared.

You have to wonder why you abandon the passing game which was clearly working in the first half. But maybe it is not as simple as a scheme or concept change, maybe the better question is, why does the Tennessee Titans offense look so free-flowing and smooth in the first half of games and then so tight and conservative after halftime?

For me, it still feels, largely, like a Todd Downing problem. Whether it is a lack of adjustments at halftime or making too many and getting away from what worked, or whether it is just poor play choices; it seems clear that the players on offense are talented enough to execute the plan and win their matchups which could not be more evident than today after they hung 24 on the Raiders in one half.

It’s never as simple as one person that you can point to and say “this is the problem”, but it does feel like Todd Downing is out there coaching for his job right now and the microscope is honing in on him with the fan-base growing frustrated with the offensive struggles.

You know it’s bad when they start to make memes about it.

However, wins absolve all sins! The early season has not been forgiving so far, but if the Tennessee Titans can continue to score 24 points in a half, they are at least improving. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope that the positive trend continues and maybe we can expect some fourth-quarter points soon enough.