Injuries have marred the Titans opener for 2020 with the Denver Broncos Monday night with both teams losing key players to during the week.
The biggest loss of all was Denver losing All-Pro linebacker Von Miller to an ankle injury on Tuesday that will likely knock him out for the season. The Titans no longer have to game plan for a player with 106 career sacks and 22.5 over the last two years. It should be a massive advantage for 2nd year offensive coordinator Arthur Smith and it should allow him to get more weapons into patterns instead of keeping extra players in to protect and double-team Miller.
The Broncos also saw receiver Courtland Sutton go down with a shoulder injury Thursday. Sutton is considered “questionable” for the game, but Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network said it was doubtful the Broncos top receiver from a year ago with 72 receptions for 1,112 yards plays in this one.
That is very good news for the Titans secondary which lost cornerback Adoree Jackson to a knee injury. He was officially ruled “out” Friday and then placed on Injured Reserve Monday. The Titans will have to make up for Jackson’s loss in the secondary with veteran Johnathan Joseph, rookie Kristian Fulton, rookie Chris Jackson and veteran Tye Smith.
The Titans have a number of players missing this one.
Guard – Jamil Douglas (Hand)
Linebacker – Vic Beasley Jr. (Knee)
Running back – Darrynton Evans (Hamstring)
The Titans are looking for a quick start after having to dig out of a 2-4 hole last year. Continuity should be on their side with 10 starters returning on the offensive side of the ball including quarterback Ryan Tannehill who took over during the Titans week 6 shutout loss in Denver.
The question is can the Titans offensive picked up where it left off. After Tannehill took over the Titans averaged 30.4 points per game over the last 10 games of the season and then knocked off New England and Baltimore on their way to the AFC Championship game?
Derrick Henry is back after winning his first NFL rushing title with 1,540 yards and a whopping 16 touchdowns. Henry had one of his worst days of the season in Denver though where Vic Fangio’s defense held him to a measly 28 yards on 15 carries.
Defensively the Titans have to deal with a Broncos offense that is young and loaded with high draft picks. Last year the Broncos added tight end Noah Fant in the first round and quarterback Drew Lock in the 2nd. This year they added more firepower with Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy in the 1st round and Penn State receiver KJ Hamler in the 2nd. Denver also brought in free agent running back Melvin Gordon to compliment Phillip Lindsey who topped 1,000 yards last season for the Broncos.
The X-factor for the Titans defensively could be what is new. Number one, defensive coordinator Dean Pees retired leaving Mike Vrabel and outside linebacker coach Shane Bowen to run the show. Number two, the team just added star linebacker Jadeveon Clowney to the mix a week ago. It remains to be seen how Vrabel handles running the team and the defense and just how prepared Clowney is to play.