Titans lose to Raiders 26 to 16

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Titans lose to Raiders 26 to 16
The Titans and Raiders coin flip before the game. Photo courtesy of USAToday

Titans lose to Raiders 26 to 16

The Raiders played like a quality team improving upon last year. They didn’t play as if they had a new offensive coordinator, but as if they’re a well-oiled machine.” The Titans forced things over and over.

The Titans began the game by trying an onside kick attempt. The kick failed. The Raiders recovered and quickly marched to a touchdown. During the post game presser, when coach Mike Mularkey was asked if he regretted that decision, he said, “No, not a chance. We wanted the ball first.” The Titans were left chasing those seven points all game.

Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota threw for 262 yards and 256 yards respectively. Carr took his time and looked like a seasoned veteran. Mariota seemed to be the victim of some force play calls but otherwise did well. The two stars, the two team leaders, played well.

The star of the game was the Raiders new kicker. Giorgio Tavecchio was four for four on field goal attempts and 2 for 2 on extra points. He became the first player in NFL history to begin his career by making two field goals greater than 50 yards. While Sebastian Janikowski sat with a sore back, Tavecchio was excellent.

Marshawn Lynch did enough when he needed to. The Raiders did not lean on him heavily and expect him to carry the team on his back. He only had eleven carries before their final two possessions. Lynch got the “hard fought” first downs on his way to a 76-yard performance. Near the end, Lynch “put some mustard” on the Raiders win by “trucking” Jurrell Casey. Casey went to wrap around Lynch, Lynch put his head down, drove Casey into the ground, and kept on running by him.

The Titans ran an odd offensive set for much of the game. They had two wide receivers a step back and just outside the tight end. Everyone was in the center of the field and it appeared to be quite congested. Last season, the Titans used a three tight end offense often. They elected to only keep three tight ends this year. It was curious to see such a tight formation. That formation is usually used in high school.

Taywan Taylor had a series of plays for him, that was about it. The preseason star, the wideout that Mularkey “glowed” about was barely used.

Corey Davis with one of six catches in his first game with the Titans.
Corey Davis with one of six catches in his first game with the Titans. Photo courtesy of USAToday

Corey Davis had a good game. He made a terrific catch on the sideline early. He had a few short catches and then two during “garbage time.” He played far more than expected. After the game, Mularkey stated that Davis played far more than even he expected.

The Raiders about forgot of Delanie Walker all day. He was regularly wide open- too open, for a star tight end. Walker led the Titans in receiving with 7 catches for 76 yards. He could have had plenty more. It’s unusual for the Titans to not take advantage of that.

Delanie Walker goes airborne to make a catch
Delanie Walker goes airborne to make a catch. Photo courtesy of USAToday

In the past, Walker has usually been an “all-business” type of player on the football field. He was so smiley and happy today. It was interesting to see. He’s been through some rough times or rough teams with the Titans and today he was downright giddy.

The Raiders smothered Eric Decker. The free agent playing his first game in Tennessee was treated as if he was a superstar. It was odd, but it worked well. The Titans kept forcing the ball to him despite double, and sometimes triple, coverage.

The Titans seemed to have pre-determined targets for Mariota to throw to. Often times, he focused on one wide receiver and ultimately threw it there. Initially, it seemed as if Marcus was playing poorly as that is easy for a defense to read and react to. As the game wore on, it became apparent that the play calls were for specific targets. It was forced and not smooth at all.

Rishard Matthews was excellent early and late. During the middle two quarters, he was merely someone for Mariota to throw at when he was throwing the ball away.

The Titans are not used to having such a deep wide receiving corps. There was some expected growing pains. It was just a bit rough to see in week one.

Sylvester Williams was regularly pushed around as he was in preseason. The Titans played Daquan Jones and Jurrell Casey at the nose tackle position to try and compensate. This shouldn’t happen. Antwaun Woods was excellent during the preseason and the starter at one point. Casey is an outstanding defensive end. He is quite limited as a nose tackle and far easier to block. The Titans shouldn’t be compensating for weaknesses in a week one game.

Adoree Jackson has already been praised by others for his cornerback play against Amari Cooper. Cooper dropped more balls than he has (probably) ever dropped in his life. It doesn’t seem proper to give Jackson credit when a receiver drops the ball. Jackson was always there. Cooper didn’t seem to fake him out or get separation regularly. Jackson was often behind him though and reaching in front to try and break up a pass. It’s great that he could hang with Cooper. It was a fine first game. It’s not time to put him in Canton just yet though.

Jackson showed his superb athleticism on a kick return as he hurdled a Raider.

Johnathan Cyprien injured his hamstring late in the game. PK of PaulKuharsky.com stated that he said he will be fine.

Johnathan Cyprien comes out of the tunnel
Johnathan Cyprien comes out of the tunnel. Photo courtesy of USAToday

Coach Mularkey stated that LeShaun Sims was jogging and looked good before the game. This made him hopeful for Sims’ return next week.

The Titans bookend tackles of Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin were excellent. Mularkey said, “Protection was pretty good all day. We felt Irvin and Mack would be game changers all day. I thought our tackles did well against them”

Despite playing outside all preseason, Logan Ryan played primarily in the slot today. After the game, the Titans coach said, “We feel he is best there.” Seth Roberts only had one catch. Ryan was outstanding.

The Titans added Brynden Trawick and Daren Bates from the Raiders during the offseason. They also signed Eric Weems from Atlanta. Tennessee was to have vastly improved special teams in 2017. Not one of them is credited with a tackle on NFL.com. They did commit penalties. The Titans allowed a big return from Cordarrelle Patterson as well.

There’s no reason to panic or worry. The Titans are a good team and the Raiders are a very good team. The Titans offense wasn’t smooth but that’s not unusual for a week one game. After some work in the film room and more reps for Corey Davis, things should settle down fine.

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota with his hand on his heart.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota with his hand on his heart. Photo courtesy of USAToday

Defensive changes

Antwaun Woods “has to” be activated from the practice squad.  It can not be that easy to run up the middle against the Titans and Casey needs to play his position.

We’ve discussed how the Titans were converting strong safety Kevin Byard into a free safety outfielder role during the offseason. More often than not, I noticed Byard at the line of scrimmage with Cyprien deep. Cyprien’s career (and the Titans history of throwing at Cyprien when he was with the Jags) history against the pass should dictate that this was not a good move. They could use to play Byard deep or go back to Denzel Johnson or sign an outfielder type free agent that is available.

Jayon Brown seemed to play the whole game while Aaron Wallace seemed to play very little. This was not the preseason plan. It will be interesting to see the snap counts when they are released tomorrow. Wallace needs to play more.

Titans coach Dick Lebeau.
Titans coach Dick Lebeau. Photo courtesy of USAToday

 

Dick Lebeau needs to start being “old school” with his inside linebackers. Wesley Woodyard and Avery Williamson missed far too many tackles today. With Brown and Wallace active, Lebeau can easily pull anyone for poor play. It doesn’t have to be for the entire game but pull the player, “give them an earful,” and then put them back in.

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