What the Hell Happened to This Titans Offensive Line?

In a game full of disappointments, the Titans offensive line may have been the worst and most surprising...

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My, how quickly we went from puffing our chests out and proclaiming “Derrick Henry rushed for 2,000 yards behind a third string left tackle” to “what the hell happened to this offensive line?” What was considered a real strength of the team in 2020, and one of the most underrated units in the entire league, looked like an outright liability against the Arizona Cardinals yesterday. There are plenty of reasons for fans of the Tennessee Titans to be incredibly disappointed in yesterday’s loss, but chief among them is the play of what was supposed to be a vaunted offensive line.

Left tackle Taylor Lewan returned to the lineup for the first time in almost a year, but got his ass kicked by Chandler Jones (his words, not mine). Why this coaching staff elected to just keep him out there one on one with Jones and getting his lunch taken and eaten is beyond me. So, while it’s completely fair to criticize Lewan for his performance, I think it’s also fair to ask what the fuck they were doing by hanging him out to dry – I don’t know if that was Todd Downing or Mike Vrabel making the call, but it didn’t exactly help. Not to mention, it’s not like Lewan was the only one struggling. Rodger Saffold had a bad swing and a miss on Jones himself. Kendall Lamm looked bad. Hell, they even left Jones wide open on a play. Ryan Tannehill rolled out on a bootleg to his right, only to turn around and be met by a completely untouched Jones for a sack. Who was supposed to be responsible for that? It was a disaster all around.

The Cardinals had six sacks altogether, but Jones was particularly a beast, netting five of those himself. Even when they weren’t getting sacks, the Cardinals front was generating massive pressure. Tannehill could’ve gotten the ball out quicker, but we can’t really tell what was going on downfield from the camera angles (seriously, Game Pass – why the fuck did you get rid of coach’s film? Now we’ll never know…) we saw on the broadcast. He had a couple of bad overthrows and looked like he was seeing ghosts at times (insert Sam Darnold gif here).

Derrick Henry could not get going either. I told Walter Mitchell on The Unofficial Titans Podcast’s preview of this game that the way to beat Henry was to get to him early, in the backfield, and trip him up before he could get going. This Cardinals front seven did a fantastic job of that. But, for an offensive line that has been successful in winning back-to-back rushing titles, it simply wasn’t a good job. In a game that was chock full of shitty performances, I kept finding myself looking at the offensive line and saying, “what the hell is happening here?

The Cardinals front set the tone early and did not let up, and it may have been the key to the game for them. At the very least, it worked well in conjunction with the Titans’ failure to contain Kyler Murray. There’s plenty of blame to go around for a completely inept performance, but this offensive line deserves an ass-chewing. This is something they’ll have to correct in a hurry, or else it could hamstring the season. Yesterday was a fine example that if the run game can’t get going -AND- the offensive line can’t pass protect, it’s not a winning formula, plain and simple. The pieces are there for them to get it right – there’s a ton of talent, and they’ve been well-coached under Keith Carter. So, there’s certainly reason to have faith and not panic. You don’t want to overreact to a Week 1 dud with that in mind. But, looking at this game in a vacuum of Week 1 and Week 1 only, the offensive line was a completely surprising disappointment.

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Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network, and a Dogs Playing Poker on velvet connoisseur. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD, #BeBetter, and ‘Minds right, asses tight.’ “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, Yankee Candle, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley

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