Is everyone okay? Have we all recovered from the last week of football? I saw some Twitter warriors postulate that the last week (losing to the Colts and the Jaguars in 5 days) was one of the worst stretches of Titans football ever. How quickly we all forget about the past. In 2014, the Titans ended the season on a 10 game losing streak. Yes, the last two games were incredibly frustrating but let’s not lose our minds about them. Things could be much, much worse.
The Tennessee Titans go into Atlanta this Sunday needing a win. But, possibly even more than that, they need to play a good game. The past two weeks the team has been bad. If they have another bad performance this week, it is going to take something special to pull them out of that spiral. So, if they want to get the train back on the track, here are the three keys to the game against the Falcons.
Fun stat: The Titans have been outscored 27 to 3 in the first quarter this season. Even more alarming, it has gotten worse in each game. This team cannot afford another slow start. They have to make plays early and score points in the first quarter. They cannot allow the Falcons and their fans to build any momentum. Take control of the game early and keep Atlanta on its heels.
Run, Derrick, Run!
I’ve been watching The Flash with my boys. One of the most repeated lines in the first season is delivered by Harrison Wells – Barry Allen’s (the Flash) mentor. When he tries to encourage or push Barry to greater speed, he simply says, “Run, Barry, run!”
That is what I want from Mike Vrabel and Arthur Smith this week. The Titans don’t have the Flash but they do have Derrick Henry. And Henry needs to be heavily involved in the game plan. Not just because he is one of the most explosive offensive players the team has but because the more he runs the more time Matt Ryan and company spend on the bench.
So, this Sunday, let’s all take a page out of Harrison Wells’ book and whisper, “Run, Derrick, run!”
Under Mike Vrabel, the Titans are one of the least penalized teams in the league. Last week against the Jags was an anomaly, with the team racking up 9 penalties. I could argue a few of those were bogus holding calls that the NFL seems to have suddenly stopped calling after all the outcry from Tom Brady and fans. It would have been nice if the NFL had cared about that prior to the game in Jacksonville. But I digress…
The Titans are not built to blow teams away. At least not yet. I still hold out hope that given time, the offense will come together under first time play-caller Arthur Smith. But right now, they have to be smarter than their opponents. (See Cleveland in Week 1 for an example how that looks.) No stupid penalties. No costly turnovers. Capitalizing on mistakes by their opponents. If the Titans play a smart game, their chances of winning are high. If they don’t, they aren’t winning many games this season.