The Tennessee Titans headed into Cleveland looking to build upon their win on Monday night versus the Indianapolis Colts. The team started firing on all cylinders and Marcus Mariota showed the world that he could beat a team from the pocket, as he was limited due to his hamstring injury. The Browns have not won a game all year, so it was thought this game would be light work for them. Well apparently, the Titans offense was thinking the Browns would be light work as well. The Titans struggled offensively and if it had not been for the defense (especially the efforts of safety Kevin Byard), the Titans would have lost that game to the lowly Cleveland Browns. But alas, the Titans were able to win the game 12-9 in one of their worst performances of the season and they head into the bye week tied for the lead in the AFC South with the Jacksonville Jaguars at 4-3. While the good news is that they won, the bad news is there is still some issues with the Titans offense. For them to win the division, they not only have to avoid another performance like they had against the Browns, but they have to figure out a few things offensively.
The running game was thought to be the strength of the Titans coming into this season. Unfortunately for the Titans, things have not gone the way they have hoped for. The Titans have not been able to run the football consistently at all. Missed blocks, missed holes and just overall bad execution has the Titans running game not exactly dominating like they did last year. Sure, they show flashes and statistics have them listed as one of the Top 10 running games in the NFL, but they are really not running the football as well as they were last season and everyone knows it. Because of that lack of production, the Titans need to find ways to supplement the running game. The one thing they can do is to use some screens to the wide receivers, mainly wide receiver Taywan Taylor. The speedy wide receiver makes plays when he has his hands on the ball and if the running game is not going, you may as well get this guy the ball in space and let him do his thing. Other than the screens, the Titans can also run quick routes. Those routes are like extensions of the running game and could potentially help loosen up things for DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry to have room to roam.
The running game was not the only thing that has had issues this season. The Titans were at the top of the NFL in scoring touchdowns in the red zone last season. So with the addition of Eric Decker and rookie Corey Davis at wide receiver, the Titans were expected to be even more dangerous inside the twenty yard line. Well, as of right now, things have not quite worked out the way they thought. Instead of being near the top in terms of scoring touchdowns in the red zone, the Titans are now one of the worst in the NFL. The Titans have been missing golden opportunity after golden opportunity to score touchdowns, often settling for field goals. The result of them missing chances is inconsistency offensively in the area of the field it counts the most. One thing the Titans could do is put their hopes a little more in the hands of Mariota down near the goal line. Last season, he was masterful in the red zone. Provided that he is healthy, give him more chances to have run/pass options. That will give the defense more to think about and allow for all the weapons he has to get open and make a play. The more dynamic Mariota can be in the red zone, the better.
The Titans are on pace for a 9-7 season and that may not be good enough for them to get in the playoffs. If they are going to make a run, it will be because of their offense getting it together. Now the Titans have a bye week to try and figure out the issues that have plagued them so far. So while this is a time for the Titans to rest and get ready for the rest of the season, it is also time for them to try and get some things corrected. Terry Robiskie (Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator), this is your time to get things going in the right direction again.
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