Lamar Miller ran all over the Titans on Monday. Miller ran the ball 12 times for 162 times, including a 97 yard touchdown. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson also had a lot of success on the ground, rushing nine times for 70 yards and a touchdown. Watson also was successful through the air, completing 19 of 24 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota didn’t throw his first incompletion until late in the fourth quarter. Mariota and wide receiver Corey Davis had excellent chemistry in this game. Davis caught four passes for 96 yards and a 48 yard touchdown. Jonnu Smith turned on the burners on a 61 yard touchdown pass. Everything seemed to be clicking for the Titans early. How did the Titans turn a 10-0 lead and a dominant first quarter into a 34-17 shellacking? One word: inconsistency.
What Went Wrong
The Titans came out firing on all cylinders. The offense was aggressive with its play calling. Mariota was taking shots down the side of the field, Derrick Henry was gashing the Texans defensive line, and the offense was playing up-tempo. After forcing a fumble on a kickoff return and having the recovery slip through the Titans fingers, things were looking great.
Head coach Mike Vrabel has instilled a tough, aggressive culture on this Titans team. At least that’s the goal. Vrabel elected to go for it on a fourth and one inside the red zone in the first half. A trick handoff to Luke Stocker was stuffed just inches short and it seemed like that stop took all of the air out of the Titans sails. After that the Titans team as a whole just seemed to shut down.
The offense did a complete 180 in its play calling after the failed fourth down conversion. It’s common coaching practice to have the first 15-20 plays scripted, and that might have had something to do with this. However, after seeing how easily the offense was moving the ball, offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur completely changed the game plan. LaFleur switched from an up-tempo, aggressive attack to a slower, more predictable offense.
The defense was suddenly allowing Miller to run all over them. The only unit to consistently put forth a good effort on defense was the pass rush. The Titans managed four sacks in the game, but that wasn’t enough to throw Watson off his game. The defense stopped tackling soundly and let the Texans bully them the rest of the game.
There were a few things to like from the Titans game. There were flashes of the dominance this team is capable of. Why is this Titans team so inconsistent? Will the real Tennessee Titans please stand up?