Titans kick the Browns 12-9

Key free agent addition Eric Decker was barely utilized and had zero catches today. Photo courtesy of USAToday

Titans kick the Browns 12-9

In a battle of legs, Ryan Succup out-kicked Zane Gonzalez as the Titans won this field goal contest.

Each team struggled on offense. The Browns benched DeShone Kizer and put in third-string quarterback Cody Kessler. Only Delanie Walker had more catches than Kevin Byard. The day was a struggle for each team’s offense.

The Titans had a poor gameplan which is what we discussed in the preview. Marcus Mariota had an enormous advantage over the Browns quarterbacks, so the Titans need to spread the field, pass often and use his arm. Instead, Robiske appeared to dust off the 2015 two tight end playbook which includes a bunch of ineffective runs and short dink n dunk passes. It was a curious decision by the Titans.

The Titans run game struggled, but the Browns were only allowing 3 yard per carry coming into the game. The Titans continued to run at Danny Shelton. The Browns defensive tackle is an excellent run defender so this was curious too.

Cody Kessler entered the game in the third quarter and sparked the Browns team. The game was moving at a snail slow pace and then suddenly Kessler was throwing it all over the field. The Browns were fired up and if I were a Browns writer, I’d be questioning why Kessler was ever benched. Kizer had excellent accuracy but he barely threw the ball downfield. “Any quarterback” can have success throwing screens. It was as if Kizer was using a stripped down offense and when Kessler entered the game, the entire playbook was at his disposal. Kessler was pretty impressive for a half.

Kevin Byard was the story of the day for the Titans. Every single time the Browns got rolling and seemed to be on their way toward a scoring drive, Byard intercepted the ball. Byard should be the NFL’s defensive player of the week and was clearly the MVP today.

Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo consistently applied pressure in the 4th quarter and overtime. Morgan entered the game as questionable. Late in the game, the Titans made a switch. Erik Walden played the OLB role Morgan usually plays while Morgan put his hand in the dirt and played the DE role Walden usually plays. Just like when he was a 4-3 defensive end, Morgan got into the backfield often. A product of great conditioning? Orakpo was flying late in the game when the other players seemed tired. The two outside linebackers helped close out this game and get the Titans a victory today.

Unsung hero today- Taylor Lewan dealt with “super-rookie” Myles Garrett very well. I did not notice Garrett getting past Lewan once. The rook seemed to get frustrated as he notched a couple false starts. Lewan blocked very well and if there were two game balls to be given out, a second would surely go to him.

Quinton Spain left the game with an injury to his big toe. Brian Schwenke filled in fine as far as pass blocking, but the Titans rarely ran left after that. DeMarco Murray suffered a shoulder injury late. Delanie Walker sprained his ankle late in the game. Coach Mularkey said, “I don’t think either one(injury) will be a factor.”

The Titans gameplan was reminiscent of Ken Whisenhunt’s days as coach when Mularkey was an assistant head coach. After the game, Mularkey called it a hard-fought battle and stated how they knew it would be going into the game. This can not be his fallback gameplan. The Titans have far too much talent on offense to be playing an offense they used when they were one of the worst teams in football. DeMarco Murray should not be their second-leading receiver. Eric Decker shouldn’t have zero catches. Rishard Matthews should have more than three catches. As Henry ran right into Danny Shelton, it was reminiscent of Antonio Andrews failing to run behind Chance Warmack and short passes to Kendall Wright. Whisenhunt is long gone and his offense should be as well.

The first three weeks of the season, the Titans flaunted their outstanding offensive depth. It was good luck matching up with their four wide receivers, two running backs, and two tight ends. Once the Texans game was going to be a hard-fought battle, the Titans went with this slow plodding Whisenhunt era offense. It’s simply no good and everyone knows that since Whisenhunt is no longer the coach. Mularkey spoke of evaluating the entire team during the bye week. He needs to take a long hard look at the offense and his game plans. The Titans were 2-1, averaged 387 yards offense, against two top teams. Then the offense reverted. It was working splendidly and the Titans will have to return from the bye with plans to use the offense they opened the season with.

Some brief evaluation thoughts for the bye:

Sylvester Williams has been ineffective and inactive one week. Antwaun Woods is a force sitting on the practice squad.

Kevin Dodd was only active for one game. With an injured Derrick Morgan, the Titans did not insert Dodd into the active roster. Is that a lack of faith?

Josh Carraway was developing nicely during the spring and summer. During several games, the Titans could have used outside linebacker depth and extra special teams help. Should he have been active? As they continue this 4-3 look with outside linebackers flip-flopping between defensive end roles, should the college defensive end jump into the rotation?

The special teams free agents haven’t had anywhere near the impact they were supposed to. Special teams needs to be fixed up. The talent is there for the Titans to have a stellar unit. If these one dimensional players can’t produce, then maybe they don’t need to be active each week.

Henry or Murray? I think it will be Henry

Taylor has done well in his almost last passing option role. When Corey Davis returns, they should still have ways to utilize Taylor’s speed and not completely bury him down the depth chart.

The Titans need to try out some tight ends and backup quarterbacks. Matt Cassel didn’t play very well. What if Delanie was seriously hurt? They need contingency plans.

Aaron Wallace was to be a key sub in this defense until he got injured. He will be eligible to return from IR soon. Wallace’s ability to play all four linebacker spots will make him a nice backup to add midseason. Who gets cut though?

Cyprien has been out so long that he could have been placed on IR. They’ll need to discuss that because it essentially wasted a roster spot for half a season. From doctors, to trainers, to his body healing….anything could be the reason here, but the Titans need to discuss it.

David King was picked up and active for four games. He still doesn’t have a tackle. Should he be on the practice squad?

There won’t be much from me during the bye week as that’s my week off. I hope everyone has a wonderful week. Thank you for your support.

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Ranking the 10 biggest injuries of the 2017 NFL season (so far)

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