Football is back folks.
A glorious time of the year where we can all kick back and watch the greatest sport known to man.
Also of course, we get to see if our ludicrous offseason questions and hot takes come to fruition. Will Matt LaFleur lose control of the Packers quickly? Can the Chiefs rebound after their AFC Championship Game loss to the Patriots? Who will win the AFC south? How about the NFC North?
Those questions are all valid and deserve some sort of answer.
But no question has been asked more regarding the Cleveland Browns.
Can they handle all the hype they’ve been given by fans and media all across the country? That remains to be seen. But what we do know now, is that on paper, this Browns team is one of the best in the AFC.
It also so happens that their week 1 opponent is none other than the Tennessee Titans. Now leading up to this game, this game has been penciled in as an easy W for the Cleveland Browns.
But as the infamous Lee Corso says.
Not so fast my friend.
Yes, the Tennessee Titans aren’t some rebuilding pushover that’s going to get blown out or let the crazy environment get to them.
They held their own against the Patriots in the playoffs a couple years ago for goodness sake. So before you sit down on your couch with your beer and your loud friends to watch the game, remember, the Titans won’t lay down.
Now that I got that out the way, here’s 3 things to watch for as the Titans take on the Browns.
1. Marcus Mariota and His Condition Behind The Offensive Line
It’s no secret that the offensive line is in for a rough go Sunday against the Browns. Taylor Lewan is out for the first 4 games of the season due to suspension. His replacement for that time, Dennis Kelly, hasn’t looked inspiring during the preseason.
But it isn’t just Kelly who’s looked bleh.
Roger Saffold has been ran over twice, Ben Jones still isn’t someone you’d ride home about regarding his play on the field, we don’t know who is going to start at right guard, and Jack Conklin is an unpredictable case.
How is Marcus Mariota going to leave alive after this?
Well, we don’t know, but we do know is that the Titans are going to need to hanker down in pass protection if they stand a chance. Any team has to right?
Stay out of 3rd down and longs, control the clock, and don’t make any head scratching mistakes that will make fans watching at home punch holes in their wall.
It sounds so simple to accomplish, but as we all know, it’s never that easy.
2. Titans Pass Rush Needs to Get Going Like A High Powered Lawnmower
The title of this key may sound a little unappealing, but the concept still stands.
The Titans haven’t seen a front 4 of theirs get consistent pressure straight up since the 2008 days. That defense was headlined by Albert Haynesworth, Keith Bulluck, and Cortland Finnegan.
This defensive line however has gotten pressure due to scheme, but how long can you rely on that until it starts to show?
Not long that’s for sure.
Harold Landry and Cameron Wake, hell even Sharif Finch, need to find a high gear and keep it going for all 4 quarters Sunday. If they can’t, even against a porous Browns offensive line, then they’ll be in for a lot of trouble.
3. Derrick Henry Out to Show He’s The Real Deal
Derrick Henry is a bit of a confusing case for the Titans. His first 12 games of the 2018 season were rather lackluster. Games that didn’t give you much confidence in his ability to carry a run game.
But his last 4 games, he took our thoughts and shoved them in the trash. He dominated the last 4 games, rushing for 508 yards and nearly leading the Titans to the playoffs.
Now that 2019 has arrived, it’s time to start playing more consistent football. Give great performances week in and week out. Don’t become invisible and fall out of favor early on in the season.
Because when Henry is on top of his game, there’s no one in this league that can singlehandedly stop him.
Keep your motor on high for 4 quarters Derrick, the Titans will desperately need it.