Titans host Cardinals in season opener

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Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) throw during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Titans kickoff their quest for a sixth straight winning season Sunday when they host Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals at Nissan Stadium.

“It was a good week, a long week, had a lot to prepare for. First game of the year, it’s like everybody thinks they know what they are going to do, but who knows,“ said head coach Mike Vrabel.

Titans Records:

  • 2020 – 11-5
  • 2019 –  9-7
  • 2018 –  9-7
  • 2017 –  9-7
  • 2016 –  9-7

All eyes will be on a Titans defense that was historically bad in 2020, particularly in third down. The team made big changes in the offseason to fix it naming Shane Bowen defensive coordinator and revamping the secondary. Tennessee had three new starters joining safety Kevin Byard in safety Amani Hooker and corners Jackrabbit Jenkins and Kristian Fulton. Rookies Caleb Farley and Elijah Molden will also be heavy contributors.

Titans GM Jon Robinson also spent big bucks bringing in pass rushing linebacker Bud Dupree and defensive lineman Denico Autry.

They have their hands full Sunday chasing Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray who rushed for over 800 yards last season.  

Kyler Murray 2020 Stats:

  • 3,971 passing yards
  • 26 touchdowns
  • 12 interceptions
  • 94.3 passer rating

“We are going to have to be prepared for a lot of different things, and at the top of that list is the talented players they have,” Vrabel said. “I think we have had a good week, I think we understand kind of how we want to play this game.”

While there is wonder about the Titans offense there is massive expectation for a Titans offense that averaged 30.7 points per game in 2020. 

“I am good, I am ready to go,“ said running back Derrick Henry. Henry became the eighth runner in NFL history to top for 2000 yards with 2027. He can make league history with a repeat performance. No runner in NFL history has ever gone for 2,000 yards in back to back seasons.

The Titans have also added perennial Pro Bowler Julio Jones at wide receiver and have tackle Taylor Lewan returning from a torn ACL.

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Lewan and the Titans offensive line have their hands full preparing for Chandler Jones who had 19.5 sacks in 2019 and JJ Watt who has 101 career sacks. 

The Cardinals are sure to test David Quesaenberry at right tackle.  He was named the starter Friday beating out Ty Sambrailo and Kendall Lamb.

If they can give quarterback Ryan Tannehill time to take advantage of a Cardinal secondary that lost Patrick Peterson to the Vikings after last season and Malcolm Butler to retirement just before this one. 

Week one is all about the unknowns said Vrabel who wants his team to control what it can, “We never want to beat ourselves, but there is just so much that happens in Week One around the National Football League.”

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