Todd Downing had big shoes to fill in Nashville and through four games he is finding it to be quite the challenge.
In 2020 offensive coordinator Arthur Smith guided the Titans to 30.7 points per game. That earned Smith a head coaching job. He was succeeded by Downing who’s Titans offense is averaging only 23.8. That is a full touchdown and that is a significant drop off.
Most surprising about it is it has come with Derrick Henry putting up monster numbers, he leads the NFL with 510 yards rushing. That should set up the passing game for some splash plays, but so far they have largely eluded the Titans.
The Titans have connected for only 2 passes over 30 yards in their first four games.
“Explosive plays are huge.” said quarterback Ryan Tannehill, “It is about having the right call line when you get the right defense, I think that is just luck of the draw sometimes. We have had some good opportunities but haven’t been able to make the plays. Like I keep saying, I feel like I am repeating myself, but it all works together. We need a little bit of extra time when we are trying to push the ball down the field, we need good pocket movement and awareness by me, a good ball location, and we need receivers to be able to get open and make a play on the football.”
So what he is saying is the offensive line needs to block better, he needs to buy more time and it would help to get Julio Jones and AJ Brown back from hamstring injuries.
Tannehill knows the long drives are nice, but splash plays can make life a whole lot easier, “If you are able to create some chunk plays, you are eating up yards without using as many plays. Definitely big for us, we have had some opportunities but haven’t made the plays, so we have to clean that up.”
In 2020 Tannehill had 44 passes of 20 yards or longer and 13 passes 40 yards or longer. The Titans are on pace for only four 40+yard passes this year. Jones 51 yard reception at Seattle in week 2 is the only one of the season.
Having said that, there have been opportunities. Josh Reynolds dropped a 50 yard gain against the Jets in week 4.
Head coach Mike Vrabel says splash plays do not just come from the offense, “We will take as many as we can get from whoever. Part of that is trying to get some turnovers on defense that can create some explosive play opportunities. Try to continue to get them in special teams, in the return phase. We caused a fumble on a kickoff the other day, it just went right by Nick (Dzubnar), so those are all game-changing-turning plays that yes, we would love to have as many as we could on offense.”
Jacksonville could be just what the doctor ordered for the Titans offense. In their first four games the Jags have surrendered 5 passes over 30 yards, 1 over 40 and 2 over 50 yards.
The Titans offense needs to make a splash and where better to do it than a stadium with a pool?