We are a month into the NFL season and the Tennessee Titans are 3 – 1. That mark includes an all-important 2 -0 in the AFC South. Is it time to drink the Titans kool-aid? Let’s pour the powder, mix it up and see.
Drink the Kool-aid
The 2018 Defense has been the standard bearer. Four games into the season the Tennessee Titans rank 6th in total points allowed at 18.2 per game. Those dates included the high powered Houston Texans and the defending world champion Philadelphia Eagles. The Titans are 2nd in the league in touchdowns allowed giving up 1.5 per game.
The Titans are in the top half of the league in almost every team category you can name except rushing yards allowed where they rank 24th and yards per attempt coming in at 27th. Teams are just running it down their throats. Except that isn’t really the case. The Titans lead the NFL giving up zero touchdowns rushing this year. Zero.
With the yards per attempt, you might think that other teams are just playing keep away. That’s not the case either. Opponents are successful on 34% of third down attempts. That’s the 7th best mark in the NFL among defenses. In ten trips to the red zone, the Titans have surrendered only 2 touchdowns. That is the best mark in the league.
Don’t drink it just yet
As impressive as the defense has been the offense hasn’t caught up yet. They’re showing signs but they aren’t there yet. Mike Vrabel, who is definitely the right guy for the job, in my opinion, leads the league in going for it on 4th down. Seven times the Titans offense has stayed on the field and went for the first. For reference, no other NFL team has gone on 4th down more than five times. The Titans have been successful five-times.
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The point here is that coach Vrabel felt it necessary to go for it on that many 4th down plays. Tennessee’s third-down success rate is 23rd in the league. I realize that the Titans are starting to figure it out on offense. Finally, they are getting healthy from Mariota to Lewan and Conklin. I am still waiting for someone to threaten the middle of the field with Delaine Walker out for the season. I’m still waiting for a running back to dominate the end of the game. There is more work to be done here.
Those Schedule Makers
In the NFL any game the opposing team can beat you. The Buffalo Bills dismantling the Vikings, at Minnesota’s field is proof for you unbelievers out there. The Titans have made it through what is arguably the toughest part of their schedule. With two division games and the reigning super bowl champs in the rearview mirror, a 3-1 record is very good. It takes even professional athletes some time to adjust to new schemes and philosophies.
In the next four games the Titans face the Bills at Buffalo, then the AFC North-leading Ravens in Nashville. The Los Angeles Chargers are next over in London and then the Cowboys in Dallas after the week eight bye. Three road games out of four with what looks like a really good Baltimore team at home. The schedule isn’t really getting any easier. The Titans need to continue to work on improving although something tells me that with Vrabel at the helm that won’t be an issue.
Pour me a glass, I’ll sip a little of that Kool-aid for right now.
Dean Williams is the managing editor of the @FPC_Titans group. Got something to say? You can find him there or @badappleffb on twitter.