The Tennessee Titans were riding high after week one. The high off week one didn’t last very long though. The Titans, who many gave praise after their week one win over the much-hyped Cleveland Browns, didn’t handle the prosperity well, as they lost at home to the Indianapolis Colts. They have no time to hang their heads on that loss though, as they play the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday Night Football. For both teams, this is a huge game because neither can afford to go 0-2 in the division. With this critical game so early in the season, the Titans have to come to play and with that, there are six key things that have to happen in order for them to win.
1) Get Delanie More Involved
Having Delanie Walker back for the Titans this season brings back the security blanket of quarterback, Marcus Mariota. In the first game, his presence was felt to the tune of five receptions for 55 yards and two touchdowns. In the second game, he had four receptions for 39 yards and zero touchdowns and his effect on the game wasn’t as great. In this game against the Jaguars, the Titans need to get him involved and get him involved often. The more he is in the offense, the more Mariota feels comfortable and to be honest, the tight end position is the biggest advantage the Titans have in the passing game.
2) Get Derrick Henry More Touches
Derrick Henry is one large human being at 6’3″ and 247 pounds and when you factor in the speed he has, he can do some damage to opposing defenses. The Titans need him to do some damage Thursday night against the Jaguars and in order to do so, the Titans need to give him the football. The least amount of touches he needs to have is 20, but to maximize his usage for the best chance to win, the Titans need to give him at least 30 touches. And in the fourth quarter, the more the Titans have given him touches, the more the Jags will be tired of tackling him.
3) Let it Rip Marcus
Marcus Mariota has had moments where he has looked good as the Tennessee Titans quarterback. He has had others where he has not looked good either. The first two games of the season have shown a little of both, but what they haven’t shown consistently is Mariota letting it rip. He can be overly cautious and that has led to some of the sacks he has had and missed opportunities. Sure, some of his issues come with the offensive line, but he has to take more chances for this offense to succeed. Along with offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith, hopefully this game is where he takes some of those chances that could be the difference between winning and losing.
1) Stuff the Run Game
The biggest thing the Jaguars have in their offense is the running game. Leonard Fournette is the guy they depend on there and with their quarterback situation the way it is, they will have to depend on the running game. For the Titans, Jurrell Casey and inside linebacker Rashaan Evans need to be big in the running game. The more active these two are up the middle of the Titans defense, the more the Jaguars could have issues in the running game and be forced to do some things they don’t want to do offensively.
2) Confuse Minshew
For those that aren’t aware, Nick Foles is out injured as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ quarterback and Gardner Minshew is in as the starter. The Jags lost a wealth of experience there at quarterback and the Titans have to take advantage of that and confuse Minshew. Defensive coordinator, Dean Pees, will surely have some things up his sleeve against the rookie quarterback and if the Titans are able to execute, we could see a repeat of what happened to Baker Mayfield when he saw this Titans defense in week one.
3) Who’s pressuring the quarterback?
The Titans had some great pressure in the first game from Cameron Wake, but in the second game, he disappeared. In this one, the Titans need Wake, Harold Landry and the whole unit of pass-rushing outside linebackers present and accounted for. The last thing the Titans want is Gardner Minshew to get comfortable in the pocket. Hopefully for Titans fans, they get to see the Titans bring the heat and discombobulate the Jags offensive line.
The Titans need this game. The Jaguars need this game as well. It will be interesting to see which team imposes their will on the other.
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