Behind Enemy Lines: Four Burning Questions For The Titans

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Nov 18, 2018; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) talks with Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) after a game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into this Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans, I thought it would be a good idea to get some information about the Titans from those who actually cover them.  I asked Trevor Woodworth and Matt Duckworth, our compatriots over at FPC Titans, four burning questions that I had about the Tennessee Titans heading into this game. I’d like to thank them both for taking time out of their schedule and being great sports, to answer these questions of mine.  With the help of Ben Pfeifer as an intermediary, this Q&A was, in my personal opinion, a success.  Thank you to everyone involved.

#1: With Jurrell Casey and Brian Orakpo out in the front seven, who do you feel needs to ‘step up’ to fill those shoes in stopping the run and providing pass rush?

Trevor Woodworth:  Losing Casey and Orakpo hurt, it’s certainly an area Indy could look to exploit. Luckily, Tennessee spent draft capital on Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry in the most recent draft. Harold Landry will be the most important this weekend. He’s had games where he shines, he’s had games where he’s nonexistent. For the Titans to effectively pressure Luck, Landry needs to step up. For the Titans to have a chance in this game, there has to be a consistent pass rush.

Matt Duckworth:  Jayon Brown has got to step up and be one of the key cogs to stopping the run and providing excellent pass rushing on Andrew Luck.  Brown has done more than just flash this season.  As a young second year player, Brown has provided 88 total tackles, six sacks, and one forced fumble.  He really needs to be on his A game and make Andrew Luck very uncomfortable in the pocket Sunday night.

#2: With Mariota’s elbow injury, do you feel the Titans should go with Gabbert no matter, because of the very real chance of permanent damage to nerves?

Trevor Woodworth:  I think Mariota is going to start this game. He’s practiced the last two days, and I find it hard to believe he won’t at least give it a shot. As long as Mariota can play his game, I don’t see any issues in him playing. He’s a fierce competitor who’s going to do everything he can to get the Titans a win. 

Matt Duckworth:  Given the vote of confidence from offensive coordinator Matt Lafleur, I do not believe that Gabbert should be the de facto starter regardless of the status of Marcus Mariota.  The team doctors would likely have given Mariota the green light to try to play if he felt he could throw the football effectively.  Mariota has poured his heart and soul into this team and deserves the chance to make the call whether or not to play.  However, I believe Gabbert should be getting loose on the sideline routinely, just as a safety precaution.  

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#3: How much of a difference will Dean Pees present in this game, considering he was sent to the hospital just before the first game this year? Also, glad he is doing better.  

Trevor Woodworth:  Losing Pees before the first matchup was brutal. I have full faith the 28 point loss would not have happened if he had been present. Pees has this defense playing better than they have all year. Having him on the sideline for this game will be crucial to us having a chance at the playoffs. Luck can make a big play happen at any moment, Pees will hopefully give Luck looks he hasn’t seen before. 

Matt Duckworth:  Dean Pees’ health has been an under the radar concern for the Titans this season.  Pees’ impact on this team is a direct reflection of the tough-minded, blue-collar mentality of head coach Mike Vrabel.  Pees will have arguably the single greatest impact on this game.  He will have to call a masterful game from the sidelines/booth in order for the Titans to really have a chance on Sunday. 

#4: Besides Henry, what do you feel is the biggest key for the Titans to have success against the Colts?

Trevor Woodworth:  On the offensive side of the ball, Tennessee has to be able to take shots down the field. Taywan Taylor will be an important player to watch in this one, as his speed makes him a solid deep threat. If Mariota can’t take the field, look for the Titans to attempt to get Dion Lewis more involved. He has been quiet of late, but is still a key part in the offense.

Matt Duckworth:  Henry is likely to be the main catalyst to the success of this offense against the Colts’ respectable defense.  He will likely command a stacked box for most of this game.  With that being said, Corey Davis has got to step up more than anyone else on this team this week.  Davis has been solid, but not outstanding for most of the season.  He has flashed what he is capable of at times this season (ie. Eagles, Patriots).  He needs to be a physical beast and create excellent separation in order to keep the chains moving.  If Davis doesn’t prove he was worth the fifth overall pick in the draft last year, then it’s likely going to be another ugly Titans offensive showing. 

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