Things the Titans Need to Clean up Before Jacksonville
In no way, shape, or form was that pretty, but a win is a win is a win. For the Tennessee Titans, down 14-13 late in the 4th quarter, it was just about ‘survive and advance.’ Just get the hell out of Denver with a win over the Broncos, get back to Nashville, and regroup. That’s exactly what happened, as Stephen Gostkowski made a 25-yard field goal to put the Titans ahead with 20 seconds left to go. When Drew Lock and company failed to make any magic, it was indeed ‘survive and advance’ for the Titans.
In some ways, the win was a sign of a certain measure of progress for this franchise. Don’t you guys feel like the 2018 or 2019 Titans would’ve lost that game? Isn’t ‘finding ways to win games they shouldn’t‘ one of the boxes this team needs to check in order to take the next step? After all, that’s one of those things we say about ‘good’ teams – they just find ways to win. All things considered, the season opener was a success for the Titans.
They started rusty and sloppy, and honestly, that game had real disaster potential. So, that leaves the Titans with plenty of issues to work on this week as they get ready to host the 1-0 Jacksonville Jaguars in the home opener at Nissan Stadium with sole possession of first place in the AFC South on the line!
Shit the Titans HAVE to clean up…
*Kicking – “No shit,” you’re probably thinking…and I can’t say that I blame you. Gostkowski had a ROUGH night at the office. The Titans should have won that game comfortably, 26-14, but Gostkowski left 10 points on the board in the form of three missed field goals and a missed extra point. Can he get that leg right? Maybe. The question is whether or not he should get the opportunity to get it right.
He was honest about it in last night’s post-game presser, saying he “probably didn’t deserve” the opportunity to kick the game-winner. That’s all well and good, but the reality is that Mike Vrabel and company have a hard decision to make. I imagine he’ll get another couple of games to prove himself, but that was about as disastrous a start as you could’ve imagined, and the Titans are going to need a reliable kicker to win these tightly contested games.
*Set edges better on defense – That touchdown that put the Broncos up 14-13 happened because the Titans had no one out wide to set the edge and force the ball back inside. Not to mention that after that first drive, Lock figured out that he could get outside the pocket and make plays. They were lucky that he overthrew guys like crazy. Better quarterbacks will take advantage of that.
*Kalif Raymond – Everybody has a bad game, but Raymond’s two drops (zero catches for the game) came in clutch situations. Maybe it was just that all of the hype surrounding Raymond coming out of training camp was a little inflated, but it felt like this guy had taken on a reputation as the ‘secret weapon’ of the Titans offense and he most definitely was NOT that against the Broncos. Gotta work on those hands and catches in conflict. But, let’s not get crazy – this is still a big-play threat that’ll get things right.
*Coverage on shifty, quick receivers – If you’re putting Malcolm Butler on guys like Jerry Jeudy, you are just asking to be burnt. Butler should not be on that type of player in any circumstances. On one memorable play, he gave Jeudy too much cushion, and Jeudy made him pay. But, to Jeudy’s credit, he also had Kristian Fulton shook on a play or two, and absolutely crushed Chris Jackson‘s ankles on another.
But, that’s concerning because the hope heading into the season was that the Titans would be better against guys like that. They’re going to have to stop the Tyreek Hill types to contend for a Super Bowl, and they invested in a younger and speedier secondary to help with that. I’m sure they’ll get a boost when Adoreé Jackson comes back off of IR, but for the time being, it looks like an area of concern. I’ll say this – at least they came correct on Noah Fant in the second half of that game.
Oh, and maybe we should work on NOT punching people and getting ourselves ejected from games? Just a thought.
Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD and #BeBetter. “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley