NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Titans (1-2) are going to try to do something they have never done before on Sunday — beat Cincinnati’s quarterback Joe Burrow.
The Bengals (1-2) are 3-0 against the Titans with Burrow at quarterback, including a memorable playoff loss that saw Burrow sacked nine times, but still resulted in a loss.
Burrow is nursing a calf injury he suffered in training camp and Titans head coach Mike Vrabel says putting the heat on him is crucial.
“Well, it’s obviously not running by him, you know what I mean? You can’t bat a ball when you’re running behind him in the pocket, but a lot of it is a timing and understanding of when he’s ready to throw,” said Vrabel. “Your quarterback, the front hand, you’re trying to have an awareness of where his arm angle is or where he’s looking. Is he looking to the right? Is he looking to the left?“
Slowing down quarterbacks is not something the Titans have done well at this point though ranking 28th in the NFL in pass defense.
- Browns – 111 YPG (#1)
- Cowboys – 130 YPG (#2)
- Bengals – 200 YPG (#12)
- Titans – 275 YPG (#28)
Slowing down Burrow also means covering a pair of very talented receivers in Jamarr Chase and Tee Higgins.
After a slow start, Chase exploded Monday night for 12 receptions and 141 yards. Limiting those players and cutting down on explosive plays will be a massive challenge for a Titans secondary which has failed to slow any of the top receivers they have faced so far.
The offense is what keeps Titans face up at night, especially a line that has not consistently opened up holes in the run game or adequately protected quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has already been sacked 13 times.
Most Sacked QB’s:
- Sam Howell (Washington) – 19
- Ryan Tannehill (Tennessee) – 13
- Justin Fields (Chicago) – 13
- Joe Burrow (Cincinnati) – 5
Particularly under the gun is new left tackle Andre Dillard, who was torched by the Browns Myles Garrett last week and now faces Trey Hendrickson this week.
Vrabel said Dillard has responded in practice. “Good. That’s what it’s got to be, you know what I mean? Gave up a couple of plays to probably one of the best edge defenders in this league. I think he’s come back to work and continued to work and develop. It’s what you got to do.“
The Titans are once again short handed on offense with first-round pick out at left guard for the third straight game after an appendectomy, and 2022 first-round pick Treylon Burks out at wide receiver because of a knee injury.
Veterans Chris Moore and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine are expected to have to fill in for Burks in the passing game.
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Running back Derrick Henry is still healthy and chomping at the bit to get going after finding little to no room to run so far to start the season.
Henry is averaging an unacceptable 3.2 yards per carry to start the season, often meeting defenders before he even reaches the line of scrimmage.
This is a critical game for both teams with the winner breathing easier at 2-2 and the loser looking at an early 1-3 hole.