The Tennessee Titans (2-1) look for their third consecutive victory as they travel to take on the winless New York Jets (0-3).
It is a season of change for the New York Jets. Robert Saleh is in his first year as the head coach after spending four seasons with San Francisco as the 49ers defensive coordinator. After trading quarterback Sam Darnold to Carolina, the Jets selected Zach Wilson out of BYU with the second-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Through the first three games of this new era for the Jets, it has been a rocky start. Averaging 6.7 points and 15 first downs per game, the Jets offense ranks last in the NFL in both categories.
A common theme for the Jets: young players throughout the lineup. Six of the 22 starters against Denver were rookies. The spotlight is obviously on the rookie quarterback, but Wilson is not the only first-year player on the field for New York.
As for the Titans, as was the case last week, the biggest question heading into this matchup is who will be available. Both A.J. Brown and Julio Jones are listed on the injury report, along with punter Brett Kern, outside linebacker Bud Dupree, and tackle Taylor Lewan. All five did not participate in practice on Wednesday. Keep an eye on the inactives list that is released an hour and a half before kickoff.
With that being said, let’s take a closer look at a matchup that pairs two of the original members of the AFL:
Tennessee Titans (2-1) @ New York Jets (0-3)
Game Time: 12:00 pm CDT
Location: East Rutherford, NJ (MetLife Stadium)
TV Broadcast Crew: Greg Gumbel, Adam Archuleta, and AJ Ross
Radio: Titans Radio, 104-5 The Zone
Radio Broadcast Crew: Mike Keith, Dave McGinnis, Amie Wells, Rhett Bryan
Referee: Adrian Hill
Line: Tennessee -7
Over/ Under: 44.5
Three Things to Watch
Taking Care of the Football – Both teams have had turnover issues through the first three weeks of the season. After committing three turnovers against Indianapolis, the Titans have turned the ball over seven times after only having 12 turnovers all of last season. As for the Jets, they have seven turnovers as well, with all seven coming via interceptions by rookie quarterback Zach Wilson. With turnover ratios at -6 for the Titans and -5 for the Jets, which rank 31st and 30th in the league respectively, which team can take better care of the football?
Pass Catchers Chance to Step Up – With both A.J Brown and Julio Jones listed on the injury report and their status unknown for this Sunday, who would be the go-to targets for Ryan Tannehill if his top two wide receivers are unavailable? Tight end Anthony Firkser has missed the last two games but returned to practice this week. Wide receiver Josh Reynolds has been inactive for two of the first three games, but could this be his first big opportunity as a Titan? Both Chester Rogers and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine had touchdown receptions last week in the win over Indianapolis and have seen consistent action. Look for running backs Derrick Henry and Jeremy McNichols to stay involved in the passing game. The Titans have had success early this season with checkdown throws that keep the chains moving. If the Titans are without Jones and/or Brown, it is certainly not ideal, but there are established pass catchers that should be able to contribute.
Pressure on the Rookie QB – It has certainly been a “Welcome to the NFL” kind of start for rookie quarterback Zach Wilson. Having passed for 7,652 yards and 56 touchdowns at BYU, the second-overall pick has thrown seven interceptions and has been sacked 15 times in his first three career starts. With seven total sacks, the Titans front has gotten consistent pressure against their first three opponents. Outside linebacker Harold Landry has 1.5 sacks, but has been all around opposing quarterbacks, while Ola Adeniyi has been a pleasant surprise with 2.5 sacks in the last two games. Pressure from the Titans defense would make it difficult on a rookie quarterback that is looking to settle in after a bumpy start to the season.
Did You Know?
- The Titans have punted just six times through the first three games of the 2021 season. Six punts in the first three games of a season tied the fewest in franchise history. The Oilers punted just six times in their first three games in 1992.
- Running back Derrick Henry has played quite well on the road recently. Henry has rushed for at least 100 yards in 11 of his last 12 regular season road games. The last two road games have really been something. In the final week of the 2020 season, Henry rushed for 250 yards and two touchdowns in a win at Houston, while his 182 yards and three scores helped lead the Titans to a come from behind victory in Seattle two weeks ago. If Henry were to rush for at least 175 yards and two rushing touchdowns in New York, he would become the first player since 1960 to pair such performances in three consecutive road games.
- This trip to take on the Jets is just the fourth time New York has hosted Tennessee since the team became the Titans in 1999. The Titans have lost the three previous meetings with the AFC East opponent on the road, falling 30-8 in 2015, 24-17 in 2009, and 24-17 in 2003. If the Titans were to win, it would be the franchise’s first road win against the Jets since December 1, 1996, when the Houston Oilers beat New York 35-10. Steve McNair had two passing touchdowns in the game, while Eddie George rushed for 141 yards and two scores. Who started at quarterback that day for the Jets? Frank Reich, who was on the opposite sideline from the Titans last week as the current head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.