NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Tennessee Titans visit the Cleveland Browns Sunday in a battle of two teams that look an awfully lot alike.
The two teams have more in common than just their 1-1 records. They are both committed to running the football and getting after the quarterback.
The Browns are number one in the NFL in rushing yards after two weeks averaging 202 yards per game against the Steelers and Bengals.
2023 NFL Rush Leaders:
1. Browns – 202 Yards Per Game
2. Eagles – 178 Yards Per Game
3. Falcons – 170 Yards Per Game
11. Titans – 122 Yards Per Game
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said the Browns are committed to the run game and believe the guys up front to get it done regardless of who is in the backfield.
Cleveland lost running back Nick Chubb for the season to a knee injury, but backup Jerome Ford stepped in to rush for over 100 yards.
“Good back, you know what I mean?” said Vrabel, “If you go back, you know (University of) Alabama, they don’t take any scrubs. Obviously, talented and had a great career at (University of) Cincinnati and has shown to have some real good quickness and speed, and showed up the other night.”
It promises to be a real war against a Titans defense that ranked number one against the run in 2022, and ranks number four to start 2023.
NFL Rush Defense:
1. Eagles – 52 Yards Per Game
2. 49ers. – 53 Yards Per Game
4. Titans – 65 Yards Per Game
4. Browns – 65 Yards Per Game
If the Titans can stifle the run game star, defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons says they are “very confident” they can affect quarterback Deshaun Watson in the passing game. Watson has already been sacked nine times year while throwing two interceptions and fumbling three times.
Just how many times the Titans defense can provide the offense a short field will be critical in the outcome for this one, especially for a Titans offensive line playing once again without first-round pick Peter Skoronski. Last week, he was replaced by Xavier Newman, and then Dillon Radunz, after Newman struggled.
Expect a heavy load of Derrick Henry and Tyjae Spears out of the backfield as Tennessee tries to neutralize edge rushers Myles Garrett and Zadarius Smith.
Garrett has posted back-to-back 16 sack seasons in Cleveland and Mike Vrabel described his physical tools in an interesting way Wednesday saying, “I don’t think there’s too many guys walking the Earth like Myles Garrett. So, we’ll be in for a huge challenge.”
The assignment of slowing Garrett down starts with right tackle Chris Hubbard, who has exceeded expectations the first two weeks, but the Titans will certainly help him with chips or doubles from the tight ends or out of the backfield.
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Ultimately, on offense, the Titans’ fate could rest on quarterback Ryan Tannehill who follows up one of the worst games of his career (three interceptions) with one of the best (zero turnovers). Tannehill will be under fire, but he must take care of the football and trust the defense to get it back.
Turnovers are usually the biggest stat in any game, and in this one, it will almost certainly dictate who wins and who loses.
Jordan Schultz reported Titans receiver DeAndre Hopkins will play for the Titans Sunday despite battling an ankle injury.