NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Tennessee Titans (3-5) kickoff the Will Levis era Sunday in Tampa Bay against the struggling Bucs (3-5).
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel named rookie Will Levis the teams’ new starting quarterback Tuesday after seeing him throw for 500 yards in two games.
Vrabel seemed to struggle with what was a clearly emotional decision to bench Ryan Tannehill, but could not deny there was “clearly something there” with the 33rd pick of the 2023 NFL Draft.
“We want to be able to continue to try to work with him, progress, develop and win.” Vrabel said, “That’s how you get better. You only get better by going out there and playing, especially at that position.”
Vrabel has worked very hard to paint the Bucs defense as a massive challenge for the Titans, and while they surrender only 20 points per game, they are near the bottom in pass defense giving up nearly 280 yards a game through the air.
NFL Pass Defense:
- (32). Los Angeles Chargers – 286 YPG
- (31). Tampa Bay Bucs – 279 YPG
- (30). Jacksonville Jaguars – 263 YPG
- (16). Tennessee Titans – 223 YPG
Thee Bucs stout run defense may force the Titans into a drop back passing game they do not typically like to play. Tampa is only giving up just under 93 yards per game on the ground.
Meanwhile, the Titans are once again forced to shuffle the deck on the offensive this week with right guard Daniel Brunskill out with an ankle injury, and tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere went on Injured Reserve Friday with a shoulder injury suffered in Pittsburgh. Those injuries are expected to force Dillon Radunz and Andre Dillard both back into action.
Defensively, the Titans have to deal with quarterback Baker Mayfield and two talented wide receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Evans is a massive target at 6-feet-5 inches tall, 230 pounds and a challenge according to Vrabel.
“We’ll see how the game’s going, if they let him play physical, that’s also something that he does well.” said Vrabel. “Sometimes when guys play physical, they just get caught up in just trying to push and shove. I think he has a great ability to continue the route and continue to find the football and not just make it a wrestling match.”
Evans is on pace for his tenth straight 1,000 yard season, and his 16.1 yards per catch is staggering and scary for a Titans defense looking to eliminate explosive plays.
Mike Evans –
- 37 Receptions
- 594 Yards
- 16.1 Yards Per Catch
- 5 Touchdowns
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While the Titans run defense has unusually struggled against the run lately the face a Bucs team averaging a horrific 3.1 yards per carry this season.
Both teams carry their share of struggles into the game. While the Titans have not won a road game since November of 2022, Tampa has lost four straight games after starting the year (3-1).