The good news for Tennessee? Facing two NFC teams to start the season is that the games will have very little bearing on the playoff picture come December. The bad news? An 0-2 start is entirely possible as both the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks have rosters capable of making a Super Bowl run. There are plenty of excuses as to why the Titans played so poorly in week one: lack of chemistry, return of players from the COVID-19 list or the simple lack of experience from the team’s coordinators. Whatever reason chosen to explain week one’s debacle, the Titans find themselves as 6.5-point underdogs as they hit the road for Seattle.
Unlike Tennessee in Week 1, Seattle’s stud showed up ready to produce. Russell Wilson is fresh off of a dominating 18-for-23 for 254 yards and 4 TD performance against the Colts, the Titans’ Week 3 opponent. Additionally, we saw star WR’s Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf turn in impressively efficient outings. Each receiver received just five targets, with Lockett putting up a 4-100-2 stat line and Metcalf putting up 4-60-1, himself. RB Chris Carson did not reach the end zone and wound up losing a fumble, but 16 rushes for 91 yards is hardly a meek performance against an impressive Colts’ defense.
The Titans are obviously going to have their hands full with a Seattle team that finishes Top 10 in DVOA year in and year out. To make matters worse, starting SS Amani Hooker has been placed on IR. Former-Seahawk Bradley McDougald will start in his place. McDougald is a very competent backup, but will likely spend more time in the box than Hooker, leaving Kevin Byard to fly around in his comfortable centerfield role. As for the rest of the secondary, Kristian Fulton looked great in week one, racking up a pair of PBUs. It’s hard to imagine the Titans will fair much better defensively this week. Even if we see dramatic improvements from the likes of Jackrabbit Jenkins, Elijah Molden, and Bud Dupree, Wilson is more than good enough to beat sound defense. Last week, there were several plays where the Titans generated good pressure and played sticky coverage on the back-end. It didn’t matter. Kyler Murray extended plays and had elite ball placement on nearly every drop back. Sounds an awful lot like the play we’ve come to expect from Wilson over the years.
Offensively, everything fell apart for Tennessee at the line of scrimmage. Taylor Lewan was cooked all day long by Chandler Jones, looking every bit like a player coming off a torn ACL. Starting iOL Ben Jones and Nate Davis also looked liked two players recovering from COVID-19. When you combine this with an inexperienced play-caller dialing up many ill-timed runs and a quarterback in Ryan Tannehill who seemed oblivious to pressure at times, it’s easy to see how one of the league’s best offenses could only muster 13 points. I would assume the Titans will benefit from watching their own film more than Seattle’s this week. (Looking at you, Todd Downing). The amount of 1st down and 2nd-and-long runs were nauseating. Last year, the Titans ran play action on early downs nearly 60 percent of the time in 2020, the No. 1 usage rate in the league. In Week 1, however, Tennessee was 32nd at just five percent. Inexcusable. I do expect improvements in this game from everyone on the offensive side of the ball.
As mentioned, the Titans enter Seattle as 6.5-point road underdogs. With an O/U set at 54, the implied totals are Titans (23.5) – Seahawks (30). Tennessee has been one of the best road teams in the past two years, going 5-3 in 2019 and 6-2 in 2020, good enough for an 11-5 record which is Top 10 in the league. As @MikeMiracles points out on Twitter (https://bit.ly/3nLLley), the team is also 7-0 under Mike Vrabel when coming off a double-digit loss.
I believe the Titans’ Week 1 showing is an anomaly rather than an indication of how good this team can be. Having said that, I have a tough time believing they will be able to fix all of their issues in one week’s time amidst a cross-country trip to Seattle. 6.5-points is far too many to give a team like Tennessee this early in the season, so I’ll take the Titans +6.5, but Seattle to win outright: 28-26.
Other News and Notes:
- After missing an extra point and field goal, the Titans cut K Mike Badgely and immediately signed Randy Bullock. This kicker carousel over the past few years is close to rivaling the Browns QB carousel, pre-Baker Mayfield.
- A week after adding former TE MyCole Pruitt to the practice squad, the team promptly promoted him to the active roster. Pruitt is a far-better route runner and pass catcher than any TE not named Anthony Firkser, so he should help immensely in 12- and 13-personnel formations.
- Vrabel is never afraid to call anyone out, but the Julio Jones quotes were blown a little out of proportion this week. Jones had an awful week one in all facets, but don’t expect it to continue.
- As mentioned above, McDougald will start against his former team, replacing the injured Hooker. I would expect more nickel and dime packages from the Titans this week to cover all of Seattle’s pass-catchers.
- Tennessee’s next three opponents: Home vs. IND, @NYJ, @JAX. In a 17-game season, the outcome of a Week 2 matchup with Seattle will not define the Titans season, win or lose.
Timmy Rever (@CoachRever) is a high school basketball coach in Kansas City, MO and writing hobbyist. He is graduate of Missouri Western State University with a bachelor’s degree in education and a graduate of Northwest Missouri State Univserity with a master’s degree in educational leadership. Currently he is pursuing a specialist degree in superintendency and will begin a Ph.D in educational law in May 2022. A dedicated ‘fanalyst’, he’s followed the Titans since the inaugural season in 1999 and is humbled to cover the Titans for Music-City Drive In.