Big 6 Blog: Big 6 Takeaways (Titans vs. Chargers)

By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – October 21, 2018)


3-4. Fourth down TD to Stocker. Then a penalty. Then a curious pair of mental deliberations that didn’t work. Without Melvin Gordon in the lineup, the Tennessee Titans made it tough on the Chargers running game. Luckily for Los Angeles, Philip Rivers and his receivers are completely dialed in. Another close loss for the Titans, but one that feels like a missed opportunity – and one where the genius vs. fool debate will likely dominate our airwaves for the next few days.

Here are my Big 6 Takeaways from the Titans 20-19 loss in London to the Los Angeles Chargers.

 

THE DECISION

This is easy for anyone to say after it didn’t work, but allow me to tell you this wasn’t what I would have done. Mike Vrabel has shown himself to be aggressive, to a fault, and as such, sometimes it will be boom and sometimes it will be bust. But, even though Philip Rivers picked the Titans secondary apart at times during this game, your offense proved it could move the football against them.

Because of that last truth, you give your offense a chance in an overtime session to win the game without having to push all chips on the table with a middling hand. The problem here is you get one play or you get a series or a drive. If your defense can’t stop them, you lose, but in that case, I don’t feel Tennessee was in a “might as well” situation. Mariota and the run game were successful, the screens were working, so I give them a REAL chance rather than making the rash decision.

Second guessing it? Sure. But as soon as I saw them go for it, I said out loud, “What in the world are they doing?”

 

THE CALL

After Marcus Mariota threw to Luke Stocker for the equalizing touchdown, which flummoxed the television crew as they assumed it would be a run, Ryan Succop stayed on the sideline. Los Angeles committed a penalty on the go ahead two-point conversion, which was a pass attempt.

Okay, so you basically need six inches to (probably) win the football game. You have an athletic quarterback and you have a versatile player in Dion Lewis, plus a guy in Derrick Henry that had shown a little physicality in his limited time on the Wembley Stadium grass.

You passed inside the 3 for the TD and then Matt LaFleur has Marcus try another throw. Intended for Taywan Taylor, it falls incomplete…and the Tennessee Titans fall to 3-4 on the season. When you consider the inconsistency of the receivers, shy of one, it seems obvious even if it’s predictable that you keep it in Mariota’s hands. He had shown some elusive moves already in the game. Maybe go with the RPO, maybe look to Lewis, possibly Henry if all else fails, but you pass.

If it works, everyone’s excited and singing your praises. It didn’t, you lost, and now I’m writing about how you overthought it and went with the part of your offense that had the least chance of success.

 

TAJAE COULD BE MR. RELIABLE

It’s not just today, but over the past few weeks, the ONE receiver I like in a Titans uniform is the guy who wears 19. Sharpe, if you noticed, seemed to always end up with his hands on the football on third down throws from Mariota today.

Tajae caught his first ball on a 3rd and 10 on the opening drive and moved the chains, he was targeted again later in the drive on a play that was broken up. Later in the first half, he caught a 2nd and 8 for a first down and then a 3rd and 10 in the same series with the same result. In the fourth quarter, Sharpe gained 16 more on another 3rd and 10.

All in all, he finished with 7 grabs for 101 yards. He was largely great today, and it’s become a bit of a trend that if the Titans need a third down catch, HE is the guy I trust most on this offense. He’s moved the chains in a couple of games on third and long situations this season and increasingly, he’s becoming the most consistent pass catcher on this Titans team. Mariota needs to continue to look for him. At this point, he’s the number two WR. More on that later.

 

SECONDARY STRUGGLES CONTINUE

On both of Rivers TD passes today, the Titans were victims of glancing too long in the wrong spot and being blown past for long scores. The first culprit was Logan Ryan, whose eyes stayed in the backfield as Tyrell Williams ran right by him down the left sideline.

75 yard touchdown.

Later, Kendrick Lewis misplayed a route in similar fashion as Mike Williams played the role of beneficiary to the tune of a 55 yard touchdown. Williams, incidentally, dropped a TD in the end zone that might have made the Titans comeback story null and void.

Philip Rivers was barely even on the field in the first half, as the Titans dominated time of possession. That’s good in theory, but Rivers found Williams for 75 on the first offensive snap. It was a nine second drive.

He played far more in the second half, but Rivers, who has been one of the best in the league at age 36 this season, goes over 300 on the day and throws 19/27 with no picks. The Titans secondary barely bothered him at all, and he’s never been a guy afraid to throw it away and settle for the next play.

 

TITANS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF GORDON’S ABSENCE

You can’t underestimate how big it was that the Chargers didn’t have Melvin Gordon on the field due to the Friday setback in practice. He’s having a ridiculous season both as a runner and a receiver, and adding in the return of Wesley Woodyard to the Titans defense, this should have been a favorable scenario for the Titans.

And it was.

Los Angeles had 16 carries for 47 yards on the day, far better than yardage surrendered over the past few games. The Chargers only held the ball for 24:37 and were just 4-9 on third down. It’s that second stat where Gordon would have likely changed the fortunes. The Titans played Ekeler, Williams, and others well and alongside Woodyard, Jayon Brown in particular really played solid ball, including a beautiful close on Rivers to drop him in the backfield for a sack.

 

MARIOTA TAKES FRIENDLY FIRE

It was a mixed bag for Mariota today, but that’s how it’s likely to be throughout his career. He missed a TD throw that turned into his first ever NFL red zone interception late in the first half. Personally, I’m glad that streak came to an end, because it was so overstated. He nearly threw a pick in the first quarter on the other end, narrowly missing it, but it’s such a meaningless number compared to many others.

These WR drops have got to stop. Taywan Taylor dropped a big gainer, Corey Davis probably should have caught one in the end zone, though Mariota may have put too much on it, but he dropped another first down throw in the fourth quarter. Again, the only guy I trust right now is Tajae Sharpe. Dion Lewis played very well today also, but I’m speaking only of the “actual” receivers in this case.

Marcus was generally accurate and we finally got to see him run a little more, which again is where he seems to find a level of comfort. He’s still taking too many risks, but he was by no means a negative throughout much of this game. His receivers are letting him down badly. It has to be driving him, not to mention the coaches, insane.


THE LAST WORD

I love aggression, but not misplaced aggression. You were moving the ball, so why go all or nothing on that two point conversion call? It was a mistake. It was an unnecessary decision, and as gutsy as it was, gutsy today means 3-4 going into the bye week.

Tajae Sharpe and Dion Lewis were there for Marcus Mariota today, and then there was everybody else on the offense. The secondary has got to be better than they were today, especially when they had to know Rivers would be looking to throw quite a bit without Gordon in the backfield.

The Titans played well enough to win, but only if they didn’t make mistakes. It wasn’t a game riddled with turnovers, but Tennessee couldn’t get the ball away from Los Angeles, committed a few bad penalties, and these drops are just killers, even with Mariota and Sharpe bailing out a few of them.

Dallas in primetime awaits in two weeks. The Cowboys have figured it out a bit more on offense and are playing better football. Following that trip, it’s New England in Nashville. It’s only getting tougher. This team is executing better, but still not to the level it needs to if it hopes to be relevant in late December.

Blogs

Toy Field 2018

Toy Field 2018

We’re building a field of toys to benefit The Salvation Army’s Forgotten Angels!

Toy Field presented by Planet Fitness will be Tuesday, December 4th at Nissan Stadium!

While you’re out doing your holiday shopping, remember those in need this holiday season. Pick up a gift for a Senior or a toy and help us build a field of toys at Toy Field! Drop your donation today at an area Planet Fitness or Sudden Service location.

Big 6 Blog: Big 6 Takeaways (Titans vs. Patriots)

Big 6 Blog: Big 6 Takeaways (Titans vs. Patriots)

By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – November 11, 2018) Um…what? It’s not that the Titans won on Sunday for the second time in six days, this time against the vaunted New England Patriots and arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history, because it can happen. It’s HOW they won. This was domination, and every time you…

Big 6 Blog: Big 6 Takeaways (TEN vs. UK)

Big 6 Blog: Big 6 Takeaways (TEN vs. UK)

By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – November 10, 2018) Eventually it had to happen. Eventually, the stars would align in Knoxville and the Tennessee Volunteers would play good football in front of the home crowd. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, and following a soul-crushing beating at home against Georgia last week, Kentucky…

Titans vs Patriots Gameday Info

Titans vs Patriots Gameday Info

After a big win in prime time on Monday Night Football vs Cowboys the (4-4) Titans travel back home to face the (7-2) New England Patriots for their week 10 match-up at Nissan Stadium. This game will be a part of the NFL Salute To Service campaign to support the U.S. Military on Veterans Day. Kickoff at Nissan Stadium is scheduled for 12pm CST on November 11th.

Big 6 Blog: Big 6 Takeaways (Titans vs. Cowboys)

Big 6 Blog: Big 6 Takeaways (Titans vs. Cowboys)

By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – November 5, 2018) Improbable after that first quarter. but somehow the Tennessee Titans picked themselves up off the Dallas turf and decided their season wasn’t over just yet. In one of the franchise’s most complete performances in years, Marcus Mariota and the offense sizzled, the defense (sans one) did its…

Big 6 Blog: Big 6 Takeaways (TEN vs. CHA)

Big 6 Blog: Big 6 Takeaways (TEN vs. CHA)

By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – November 3, 2018) Embarrassing. How to get six takeaways from one of the most uninspiring performances I’ve ever seen from a Power 5 football team at home? I have no idea, but I’m going to try.   THE OFFENSIVE LINE It’s bottom of the barrel. Charlotte absolutely annihilated the Vols…

Titans Travel to Dallas for Monday Night Football

Titans Travel to Dallas for Monday Night Football

After an upsetting loss in the final seconds of Titans vs. Chargers at Wembley Stadium and a bye week, the Titans (3-4) return to play on Monday night vs the Dallas Cowboys (3-4) for Monday Night Football. Kickoff at AT&T Stadium is scheduled for 7:15pm CST on Nov. 5. This is the third time these…

Big 6 Blog: Big 6 Takeaways (TEN vs. S Car)

Big 6 Blog: Big 6 Takeaways (TEN vs. S Car)

By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – October 27, 2018) It was a dramatic game, well-played on one side of the ball throughout much of the game, but it was also an infuriating night for Jeremy Pruitt and likely for Vols fans across the nation. Why? Well, because in a game that was this close, self-inflicted mistakes…

Big 6 Blog: Big 6 Takeaways (Titans vs. Chargers)

Big 6 Blog: Big 6 Takeaways (Titans vs. Chargers)

By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – October 21, 2018) 3-4. Fourth down TD to Stocker. Then a penalty. Then a curious pair of mental deliberations that didn’t work. Without Melvin Gordon in the lineup, the Tennessee Titans made it tough on the Chargers running game. Luckily for Los Angeles, Philip Rivers and his receivers are completely…

Big6 Blog: Big 6 Takeaways (TEN vs. ALA)

Big6 Blog: Big 6 Takeaways (TEN vs. ALA)

By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – October 20, 2018) If you talked yourself into Tennessee having a chance to stun Alabama on Saturday, I’m both happy and sad for you. It wasn’t a fun afternoon for Vols fans, but I love that you had hope enough in the current team following the Auburn loss to dream.…

Headlines