Titans 43 Browns 13 – Final
The Titans open the season with a convincing win over the “front runner” Cleveland Browns. Yes, that’s the way Delanie Walker referred to them at least 3 times after the game.
I’m a big believer in “we” over “me” and you saw why today. The Browns unraveled when things didn’t go their way while the Titans gave up an early score, dropped an early pass and just kept on working.
Great start to the season.. My thoughts…
1) The Fountain of Middle Age – Delanie Walker and Cameron Wake both defy logic at 35 and 37 years old. Walker was fantastic coming off of a terrible ankle injury catching 5 passes for 55 yards and 2 TD’s. Cameron Wake was a one man wrecking crew with 2.5 sacks giving him 100 for his career. His sack/safety of Baker Mayfield in the 2nd quarter really unnerved the Browns some.
2) Pick party – On TN Nation the biggest key was winning the turnover battle and they did in a huge way picking off 3 Baker Mayfield passes. If the Titans can play with a lead it’s something you’ll see a lot more of. It forces QB’s to make questionable decisions and allows rushers to get after the QB. Most important, they’ve got to catch the ball!!! Logan Ryan, Kevin Byard and Malcolm Butler all did. Adoree Jackson should have had one in the 1st half and call me greedy all you want, that’s a play he has to make, it cost his team 6 points.
3) King Henry – After a slow start Derrick Henry got rolling a little later in the game and there was no play bigger than his 75 yard screen. He did almost drop it, but he didn’t! That play was blocked beautifully and if the Titans can get Derrick Henry running in a straight line like that it’s going to create some huge plays because his big and fast! Rodger Saffold thru a huge block at the line to spring him, but the downfield blocking by the receivers was also on point. It was a back breaking play that the Browns never recovered from.
4) Disciplined – This may have been the story of the game. The Titans went from one of the most to one of the least penalized teams in the league under Mike Mularkey and Mike Vrabel has continued to build on that. They were only penalized 6 times Sunday while the Browns were burried under and avalanche of yellow flags… 18 of them for over 180 yards!!! One of a punch to the face and another for a kick to the head! What the hell is going on in Cleveland? I was relieved to see the league get involved and eject Gregg Robinson for that kick, that is totally out of line.
5) Jack Conklin – If you can watch Derrick Henry’s 1 yard TD, watch it again and watch Conklin lead the way for hm driving his man 2 yards into the end zone. That’s getting it done.
6) Mariota hat trick – I almost couldn’t believe it when I looked it up. It was Mariota’s first 3 TD game since November of 2016 when they drilled the Packers at Nissan Stadium. This is the power of having players make plays for you. It’s also the power of play action, it set up both TD’s to Walker… Oh, yeah it set up the screen to Henry as well. I did not think Mariota played a great game today. He was high and did not throw with a lot of zip, but he was smart and made enough plays to get it done. I loved his 3rd and 4 scramble late and he had 4 guys in his kitchen when he completed the screen to Henry. He also took care of the ball throwing it away and even taking a sack instead of taking a hit or putting it in jeopardy.
7) Big Plays!!! – I’m a huge fan of “game changing” plays and last year the Titans did not have a lot of them. In the passing game they had only 6 plays go over 40 yards, Sunday they had 3 of them. Two of them went to rookie AJ Brown who announced his presence with authority. They were all set up by play action. So yes, the Titans want to be a running team… Because it sets up the big ones down the field. It’s “complimentary football”. Loved that opening play call of the second half, it had Brown streaking wide open across the field.
8) Pees Pees the musical… OK, that’s juvenile, but the Titans defensive coordinator is a nightmare for a young QB we saw that again today. He adapted to the slow start and his guys had Mayfield’s head spinning.
9) Red Zone Numbers – I have high expectations for the Titans defense and that is why I harp on creating more turnovers so much. When they can give the offense a short field it is a heck of a lot easier to put points on the board. Today looked pretty darn good as the Titans went 3 for 4 in the Red Zone scoring TD’s after the first two interceptions. Mike Vrabel says a field goal is a win for the defense, so the TItans offense did more winning than losing todya.
10) The O-Line – No Lewan or Pamphile and it didn’t look like a brick wall up there but those guys battled, didn’t commit penalties and eventually imposed their will. They get a game ball from me.
11) The New Guy – A big high five to Cairo Santos who was FANTASTIC Sunday for the Titans. Not only was he flawless, but his 53 yarder in the 3rd quarter gave them a 2 possession lead. Also, he earned Mike Vrabel’s trust in a hurry to even get a shot at kicking it.
12) Are we really talking about the punter? Yes, we are! Brett Kern’s 70 yard punt to the 3 earned the Titans 2 points on the safety. It was a big moment in the game.
Now it’s on to Nissan Stadium and the home opener with the Colts.