The Tennessee Titans drafted Malik Willis in the hopes of him becoming a starter in 2023 or 2024, but a rare injury to Ryan Tannehill means that Willis is going to get to play just six games into his rookie season.
Everyone knows that this game isn’t going to change the Tennessee Titans’ plans at quarterback. In fact, the Titans shouldn’t even use this game to judge what they have in Malik Willis as a long-term prospect.
The Titans just need to figure out how to make it through this matchup and get out of Houston with a win.
With that in mind, the playbook should be completely different this week and Tennessee needs to have a plan that relies on the quarterback’s legs more than his ability to consistently make the right read and deal with pressure.
Luckily, they have someone who created a masterful game plan in a similar situation last year, Tim Kelly.
Tim Kelly and Malik Willis should be able to make this work
Last season the Houston Texans flew to Nashville and beat the Tennessee Titans in a downpour. Dez Fitzpatrick, Chester Rogers, and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine led the Titans wide receivers in snaps, so you would imagine that Todd Downing called a run-heavy game right? Right?!
Well, no. If you remember, Downing transcended his normal level of incompetence and called 52 passing attempts for the Titans in that game.
Do you know who was actually good at their job that day? Tim Kelly, who was calling plays for the Houston Texans.
The Texans didn’t have Davis Mills starting yet, but they had Tyrod Taylor.
Taylor has made a career out of being mobile enough to exploit defenses and good enough with his arm to keep defenses from only focusing on his legs.
In that game, the Texans ran the ball 64% of the time and let the Titans beat themselves.
When you look back at the teams, the Tennessee Titans ended as the #1 seed in the AFC and the Houston Texans had a top-3 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The reason why the Texans won that game (on the road) was because Tim Kelly knew what that offense could and couldn’t do.
This was an offense whose starters included David Johnson, Pharoh Brown, Brevin Jordan, Geron Christian, Charlie Heck, Justin McCray, and Jimmy Morrissey. The Tennessee Titans offense is banged up right now, but they still have Derrick Henry, Robert Woods, Austin Hooper, and a solid run-blocking offensive line (except for Dennis Daley), so there is no reason why this shouldn’t be the blueprint for what the Titans do against the Houston Texans.
Again, whether Malik Willis throws the ball 5 times or 50 times, his development isn’t complete and he still has time to unlock his outstanding potential. Just make it through this game and get to 5-2, that is the goal.