By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – October 6, 2019)
Again, Josh Allen and the Bills beat the Titans because Tennessee can’t get out of its own way. A game of errors and officiating overreach and a stadium filled with visiting fans. Yep, that about covers it. Here are my Big 6 Takeaways from the Bills 14-7 win in Nashville on Sunday.
LEWAN AND CONKLIN
Returning from the suspension, Taylor Lewan was hit for multiple penalties and was part of an offensive line that had very little answers for the Buffalo pass rush, especially with Marcus STILL holding on to the ball too long and too often. Conklin was absolutely dreadful in this game, although nobody up front for Tennessee had anything resembling a strong performance. The Bills have a great pass rush, and this was the miniature version of the Ravens last year.
At this point, it’s fair to argue the Conklin pick, especially since the injury, just hasn’t panned out. You may still pay Marcus or franchise him, but assuredly, you’ve got to let Jack walk unless he comes at an incredible discount.
Mariota was sacked five times, with Conklin responsible for at least one of them. He also managed to get a bad holding penalty that harmed a drive that ended in a missed Cairo Santos field goal. The OL was bad, but these are the two names Titans fans talk about, so they’re the ones I’m singling out. It has to be better than this.
TICKY TACK OFFICIATING
Both teams were victims of an overbearing crew that called everything, regardless if it had anything to do with the play or not. Adam Archuleta on the CBS broadcast said multiple times he wouldn’t have called a few holds, and it wasn’t all in favor of Buffalo or Tennessee. There were some questionable flags and some very “let them play” scenarios and in no way was that the case throughout the afternoon. Maybe once they let a little contact go down the field without tossing the yellow, but it was a bad performance by the zebras.
Also, man are some of these roughing the passer penalties hard to deal with. The Bills had one called where the “perpetrator” had no possible way to avoid making contact with Marcus after being tripped and rolled into the Titans quarterback. Still there were a LOT of penalties called on the Titans, which speaks at least to some degree to some discipline issues.
If you have a crew you know is calling a game tightly, you have to adjust what you’re doing, or eventually it ends up just as much your fault as theirs. You have to read the room and the Titans didn’t.
He had done well, but when you miss four FGs, even with two from tough distances, that’s not going to get it done. He wasn’t the starter, as he was brought in to spell the injured Ryan Succop. Mason Crosby last year missed four in one game, and Santos was the first SINCE that point.
Whether there’s someone better out there is almost irrelevant, because somebody has to answer for leaving 12 points on the board in a defensive game where special teams and turnovers were going to tell the tale. The third miss, following the penalties and the illegal forward pass…that’s the one where I immediately said out loud, “Well, you’re fired tomorrow.
It’s something you can’t have. Succop could survive a day like this, but not a replacement kicker with no time spent in Nashville prior to the pickup.
Boy, he’s been terrific hasn’t he? When ESPN released their list of the top ten rookies in the league through the first month, Brown didn’t even make honorable mention, which left me befuddled. He almost had a touchdown, called back because Marcus Mariota didn’t get it out of his hands before crossing the line of scrimmage. It was close, but the call on the field was going to stand.
He only ended up with 27 yards on 2 catches. He was targeted just twice as well. That’s probably going to need to change. He looks like the best receiver on the team. Other than the Jonnu Smith play, which was scintillating, he was the guy that jumped off the screen. The problem was, he wasn’t on it enough. Arthur Smith must find a way to get his rookie wide out some more looks, because the young man looks like an absolute beast in the making and Titans fans should be geeked about it.
A GAME YOU NEEDED
It was close, but the Titans made enough mistakes that cost them this one, and it was a big one. The Bills are likely going to be in the Wildcard hunt, and in an AFC South where anything could happen, nobody looks like a ten win team, so it’s highly possible Tennessee will be dealing with tiebreakers and head-to-head records. There are two Wildcard spots, and now Buffalo has a leg up on the Titans due to the victory.
Plus, you let them beat you at home. This is what the Tennessee Titans are – a team you cannot trust, regardless of opponent. The two best teams (we thought) they would have played through five weeks are the two games they’ve won. The Bills have a borderline elite defense that entered Sunday’s game surrendering the second fewest yards in the NFL. They had just left Tom Brady with his worst statistical performance EVER.
That said, as good as the Buffalo defense was, you had to have special teams and you had to limit penalties. The Titans did neither well, and now they’re 2-3.
DEFENSE CAN’T OVERCOME EVERYTHING
As good as the Titans defense has been throughout much of this season, the offense has to give them more than seven points in 60 minutes. Yes, officiating might have cost them here and there, but that’s true in every football game for every football team any of us have ever seen. Kevin Byard picked Josh Allen, Logan Ryan was popping pads, and the Titans sacked Allen four times on the afternoon. That should usually be enough, but here, the offense simply had nothing.
Mariota had another game manager kind of day, took a few more unnecessary hits, and Derrick Henry’s 20 carries didn’t ever put him in rhythm as much as he both could and should have been. Just keep feeding him until they stop it consistently, because especially in the second half, he was wearing them down and still, without blocking for Mariota, the Titans were content to try and throw it and put it in Marcus’ hands.
Derrick Henry is the best player on the offense right now. Even Delanie isn’t doing much at present. So feed your running back and control the clock, tire the defense, then take your shot.
The Titans are 0-2 at home with losses to Jacoby Brissett and Josh Allen. They head to Denver, which has massive problems, but is not an easy team to play – still boasting a strong defense and a coach in Vic Fangio with elite scheming ability. 3-2 would look much better than 2-3, but I fear it’s this loss that in the end will cost the Titans the Wildcard if they can’t manage to win the division.
Still plenty of football to play, but good teams win this game… the Bills are 4-1 and look like a playoff team, but didn’t look demonstrably better than the Titans. 4-1 vs. 2-3 is SIGNIFICANT though, folks.