By: Justin Hawkins
“You have a long season. You can’t harbor good things or bad things. We came up with a big win today.” – Titans QB Ryan Tannehill
The Tennessee Titans and quarterback Ryan Tannehill bounced back in a nice way at home beating the Los Angeles Chargers in an overtime thriller 27-24 to improve to 1-1 on the season. It was the first time at home time this season in front of a reported 67,438 crowd at Nissan Stadium Sunday. Now, the Titans will try to pack that momentum with them from last week as they travel to Cleveland for a clash with AFC North opponent the Cleveland Browns.
Last Time Out
After a less than stellar performance against the Saints in Week 1, the Titans rebounded in a way most hoped they would by beating a difficult Los Angeles Chargers team.
It was a somewhat of a slow start by the Titans who fell behind 11-0 towards the halfway point of the second quarter. The Chargers were able to get Tannehill on the ground three times before the Titans were able to put points on the board. The offensive line was missing rookie left guard Peter Skoronski in this one due to an apendectomy, so they were certainly missing some key depth at the position. Chargers edge rusher Joey Bosa took full advantage of that as he would have two of the 5 total sacks in the game from the Bolts. Tannehill in the second quarter proved his bounce back game was taking place with a 70 yard bomb to wide receiver Treylon Burks that led to a Derrick Henry one yard touchdown score. This started a more well balanced team that matched well with the Chargers offense that, at times, tends to put up points at will. The Titans were able to close the gap at halftime to a score of 14-10. To start the second half, the Titans constructed a 9 play 75 yard drive ending in a 12 yard Ryan Tannehill touchdown rush that gave the two-tone blue their first lead of the game. From there, the game was back and forth till the end. The Titans were able to take the lead 24-21 late in the fourth quarter with a Tannehill 4-yd touchdown pass to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine. The Chargers then ensued the last drive by marching down the field looking to take the win. However, Harold Landry made a huge sack, his first on the year, on third down forcing the Chargers tying field goal sending it to overtime. This is where the Titans defense showed up in a big way forcing a three and out and the rest is history. The Titans with a 14-yard Tyjae Spears run, 14-yd completion to DeAndre Hopkins, and several Derrick Henry runs proved to be enough to give kicker Nick Folk the 41 yard field goal with just over 5 minutes to go in OT as the flood gates in the sky opened up. The kick was right down the middle with room to spare and the Titans gained their first win of the season improving them to 1-1.
Ryan Tannehill, on Sunday, proved that week 1 in New Orleans was not the type of quarterback play he is used to showing. Against the Chargers, Tannehill was very efficient going 20-24 for 246 yards and a touchdown as well as adding a 12 yard rushing touchdown in the second half. Despite being put on the ground several times due to the lack of a pocket from the offensive line, Tannehill stood his ground and made the right decisions and was accurate, especially on two deep balls to his receivers. One went 70 yards to Treylon Burks and another went to Chris Moore for 49 yards in the 4th quarter. This is the type of quarterback play the Titans need and should expect from 35-year old Tannehill in year 12.
The defense for the Titans were missing defensive backs Kristian Fulton, due to a hamstring injury, and Amani Hooker, due to a concussion. The secondary were eaten up by the connection of Justin Herbert and Keenan Allen who went for 8 receptions 111 yards and two touchdowns. Overall, Herbert threw for 27/41 305 yards and the two touchdowns to Allen. The Chargers were also without starting running back Austin Ekeler due to an ankle injury and the Titans were able to handle the run game fine allowing just 61 yards in total. The defense was able to get three sacks on the day with one each by Denico Autry, Jeffery Simmons, and Harold Landry.
The Cleveland Browns took their first loss of the season in Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football by a score of 26-22. The Browns, however, did not just lose the game, but also lost starting running back Nick Chubb to a gruesome knee injury that will force him to miss the remainder of the season. Second year running back Jerome Ford stepped up for the Browns and had 106 yards rushing in the game and also added 3 receptions for 25 yards and a touchdown. Deshaun Watson was not very efficient in this one going 22/40 for 235 yards a touchdown and an interception as well. He also fumbled, and lost, the ball twice in the game. As a member of the Browns since last season, Watson has not looked like the elite quarterback he was in Houston.
The game started off with a Steelers interception for a touchdown off Watson on the first play from scrimmage. The Pittsburgh defense proved to be too much for the Browns and they sacked Watson six times and forced 4 turnovers, one interception and three fumbles.
On the defensive side for the Browns, their defense is highly skilled and packs both a punch and energy led by defensive end Myles Garrett. The Browns defense had two sacks and created two turnovers, one interception and one fumble. The best part about the Browns is their defense. Barring any injuries on this defense, they should keep themselves in most games despite what the offense does.
The (1-1) Tennessee Titans and the (1-1) Cleveland Browns meet in a what will probably be a low-scoring heavy defensive battle. Both sides display an offense that is inconsistent and rely more on their defense to keep the games close. For the Browns, quarterback Deshaun Watson’s favorite target to throw to is wide receiver Amari Cooper. On Monday, Cooper had 7 receptions for 90 yards. The Browns also have one of the leagues strongest run games, but with the loss of Nick Chubb you can now expect to see a tandem of Jerome Ford and newly signed running back Kareem Hunt, who returns to the team who didn’t re-sign him this past offseason. The Titans defense is great against the rush who are top-5 through two weeks.
The Browns have a heavy pass rush, and with a lackluster Titans offensive line, Ryan Tannehill may have a small and quickly closing pocket yet again. The Browns had 9 QB hits and lead the league in pass-rush win rate 69.6%. The Titans line will have their hands full keeping Myles Garrett, Ogbo Okoronkwo, and Za’Darius Smith away from Tannehill. The backend of the Browns defense under defensive coordinator Jim Shwartz plays a ball-hawk defensive style and are good in zone coverage against the pass. Defensive backs Grant Delpit, Denzel Ward, and Juan Thornhill can wreak havoc on the Titans if Tannehill doesn’t put the ball where it needs to go.
Tennessee Titans (1-1) vs. Cleveland Browns (1-1)
Game Time: September 24th @ 12:00 PM CDT
Location: Cleveland, OH (Cleveland Browns Stadium)
TV Broadcast: CBS (WTVF News Channel 5)
TV Broadcast Crew: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta, Aditi Kinkhabwala
Radio: Titans Radio (104-5 The Zone)
Radio Broadcast Crew: Mike Keith, Dave McGinnis, Ramon Foster, Rhett Bryan
Referee: Craig Wrolstad
Line: CLE -3
Things To Watch
Titans O-Line vs. Browns D-Line
Without Peter Skoronski last week against the Chargers, the Titans desperately needed help to try and stop Joey Bosa and company. The line allowed five sacks on the day and also allowed six quarterback hits. This week, Skoronski has been ruled out yet again, so insert Dillon Radon at left guard. Much of this game could be decided in the trenches. If the Titans offensive line gives way to the likes of Myles Garrett and Za’Darius Smith, then Ryan Tannehill and the offense will not have much room to operate. You will see interesting packages orchestrated by defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz in order to exploit the Titans disadvantages. I expect Myles Garrett to be lined up against Dillon Radunz and Andre Dillard on that left side more often than not to try and get to Tannehill.
Ryan Tannehill’s Consistency
This week for Ryan Tannehill, we are not focusing on him bouncing back from a bad week but more of a focus on him keeping the positive outings continuing. I do not expect him to only incomplete four of his passes again, but I do want to see the quarterback show some consistency that he can operate this offense into success and not be a hinderance. This week against the Browns, Tannehill may not have the breathing room he felt last week against the Browns secondary, but I will be looking for smart decisions and getting the ball to his play makers. If Tannehill can be smart with the football and not turn the ball over, Tennessee has a good chance of pulling out the victory.
Titans kicker Nick Folk has been sensational through two weeks of play having yet to miss a field goal or an extra point. When the game is on the line, it is safe to bet on Folk to make the kick. After coming to the Titans via trade just before the season began, questions were asked about his leg strength. Can he make 50 yard kicks, and can kick it into the end zone on kickoffs? Yes, and yes is the answer. Week one he kicked a 50 yarder, and this past week he kicked every kickoff into the end zone only allowing one return. Nick Folk may be used heavily this Sunday as the offense may not find the end zone much against a stout Browns defense. The game could come down to a field goal as many Titans games have, so be on the watch for another Folk hero sighting this Sunday.
Did You Know?
- Ryan Tannehill seems to like playing against the Cleveland Browns. On 9/25/16 against Cleveland, Tannehill completed 25 of 39 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns as a member of the Miami Dolphins. Then, on 12/6/20 against Cleveland, Tannehill completed 29 of 45 passes for 389 yards and three touchdowns. His 389 passing yards is the fourth most he has ever recorded in a game. It was one of five game during the 2020 season he threw for three or more touchdowns.
- In four career games against Cleveland, DeAndre Hopkins has recorded 16 receptions for 245 yards and three touchdowns. He is currently 4-0 against the Browns. This includes his last time facing the Browns on 10/17/21 at Cleveland where Hopkins had three receptions for 55 yards and two touchdowns in a win for the Arizona Cardinals.
- The last time the Titans faced the Browns in Cleveland the Titans came away with an emphatic 43-13 win to open the 2019 regular season. Marcus Mariota had three touchdown passes, while the Titans defense contributed three interceptions, five sacks and a safety—a first in franchise history for the defense with that combination. All three interceptions came in the fourth quarter and lead to Titans touchdowns. Delanie Walker accounted for two touchdowns, and Derrick Henry added a career-long 75-yard touchdown reception on a screen play. Cameron Wake recorded 2.5 sacks and a safety, while Logan Ryan posted an interception as well as 1.5 sacks.
- In the Titans’ overtime victory against the Chargers last week, running back Derrick Henry rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown. He increased his career totals to 8,478 yards and 79 touchdowns on 1,790 career rushing attempts since entering the NFL as a second-round pick in 2016. Entering Week 3, Henry requires only 97 more rushing yards to eclipse Earl Campbell’s 8,574 rushing yards with the franchise and claim second place on the Titans/Oilers all-time rushing list. Only Eddie George (10,009) has more rushing yards than Campbell in the history of the team, which began in 1960.