Marcus Mariota remembers the last time he played in Jacksonville, but unfortunately it was not a good memory for him and the Titans. Mariota suffered a leg injury in that game last season and the Titans would ultimately go down to a pretty bad Jacksonville team 38-17, ultimately ending their playoff chances. The year is now 2017 and the Titans now get to return to the scene of the crime where it all went down. The Titans face the Jaguars in their first AFC South tilt of the season. While the Jags will be looking for their first 2-0 start in a long time, the Titans will be looking for their first win of the year and trying to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start (many don’t survive that and make the playoffs). So which one will win? Will the Titans sense the desperation or will the Jags continue to try and make everyone believers? Well, if the Titans are to win, there are definitely a few things they have to make happen. Let’s take a look at the Titans Pick Six for this week versus the Jacksonville Jaguars.
1) Tough Guy Football
The Titans running game was non-existent for the most part last week and that is very atypical of them. The Raiders played more physical up front than the Titans did and that was certainly not expected. In this one, the Titans match up against a physical defensive line that has a playmaker they have to account for in Dante Fowler Jr. The best way to neutralize Fowler Jr and the front seven of the Jags is to be physical and assert your will. If the Titans do that, then everything else could fall into place
2) Get ‘Em Quickly
The Titans passing game last weekend was better than many probably expected it to be although it could have been better. They attacked the Raiders deep down the field and were able to make some plays to stretch the field. That may have worked against the Raiders, but the Titans have a different duo to see this weekend in Jacksonville in AJ Bouye and Jalen Ramsey. This duo helped keep the Texans passing game in check. Even though the Texans did not have much go right for them last weekend, the thing that did help them was the quick passing game. The Titans have those type of weapons that can affect people in the quick game and they have a better quarterback too. The Titans get that going early, then look for them to pop a deep one later.
3) The Hour(s) Of Desperation
The Tennessee Titans are facing a potential 0-2 start and the percentages are very low for teams making the playoffs after an 0-2 start. We know the offense is the bellcow of this team and they set the tempo. In this one, they have to also be the emotional barometer of the Titans team. So in this one, look for players like tight end Delanie Walker, running back DeMarco Murray and right tackle Taylor Lewan to come out and show some emotion early and let this Titans team know how important this game is. The Titans need this game and it is up to the offense and their main players to show up and lead the way.
1) Hold That Line
The Tennessee Titans built themselves around being a run-stuffing team last season and many a team struggled with handling their front seven. Well, the first game was something that was atypical of them as the Raiders got what they needed in their ground game and that set up everything else for them in the passing game. If the Titans thought the Raiders were a challenge then they really could have a challenge in the Jaguars running game. Rookie Leonard Fournette was a bully in the run game versus the Houston Texans last week, accumulating 100 yards on 26 carries and also getting into the endzone for the first time in his professional career. The Titans must have better run fits than they had last week along with being quicker off the football. If they are able to do that, then they could give the Jacksonville Jags some issues because from what it looks like, the Jags will be focusing on the running game more than in the past.
2) Make Bortles The Man
As I previously stated, the running game was the key to Jacksonville’s first win this season and they just bullied the Texans up front. While that was amazing, what wasn’t amazing was the passing game with Blake Bortles. The fourth-year quarterback may have got off against the Titans last season (26/38 for 325 and 1 touchdown), but he struggled mightily in his first game this year, only going 11/21 for 125 yards and no touchdowns. If the Titans stop the run, the Jags passing game will have to win it for them. Being that Jacksonville’s best pass-catcher, wide receiver Allen Robinson, is out for the season, things will be that much tougher for Bortles to make things happen. If he is able to do so then it then it will surprise some folks, but with the Titans knowing the Jags would have to pass, then it could be one of those games for Jacksonville fans that they may want to watch with both hands over their eyes.
3) Where’s Orapko?
The Titans are asking that same question themselves. Brian Orapko has been pretty solid for the Titans over his time here, but the first game was definitely out of character for him. The veteran outside linebacker was noticeably absent in the first game of the season, not even registering a sack or a quarterback hit. For a guy that is considered the best pass rusher on the Titans, this is truly unacceptable for him. The Titans need him to come out and set the tone in this game and not only does that mean getting sacks but it also means quarterback pressures and things like that. If he is able to make some things happen, he will make things a lot easier not only for the Titans defense but for the secondary of the Titans, which has not gotten a lot of good attention the last year or so.
Who would have thought the second game of the season would be the most critical game of the Titans season so far? Based off the first game of the season, it surely has taken that type of importance for Tennessee. Jacksonville has always been talented but the first game showed everyone what can happen when the Jaguars play together with energy and are on the same page. If they come out with that same type of energy, Tennessee will have to match that and then some. Will they or won’t they? We will find out Sunday!
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