Choose one word to describe the Titans performance against the Browns. Dominant? Optimistic? Any and all would be applicable. The Titans marched into FirstEnergy Stadium and punched the pre-season darlings right in the mouth with a 43-13 win.
The public perception of the two teams couldn’t be more polar opposite. The Browns were lead by second year sensation Baker Mayfield, who dazzled the second half of last season. The Titans were in the midst of a quarterback “controversy” between Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill. Mariota’s play the last two seasons have been nothing short of uninspiring and inconsistent. The first step to righting that ship came on Sunday.
Offense Improves in the Second Half
The Titans offense came out sputtering a little. Trailing 6-3 entering the second quarter, the offense just began clicking. New offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith, has a good pulse on the offense’s strengths and weaknesses. It showed as the Titans rattled off 10 unanswered points. After the Browns offense began to show a little life and cut the deficit to 15-13, the Titans slammed the door with a 75 yard screen pass to Derrick Henry. Mariota followed up the screen pass to Henry with two touchdown strikes to Delanie Walker.
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Defense is Dominant
The Tennessee defense came to play as well. The Titans forced three Mayfield turnovers including one pick six to drive home the final nail in the coffin. The pass rush impressed everyone, never giving Mayfield much time to make good throws. Star receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry finished the game off with 71 and 67 yards respectively. Rising star running back Nick Chubb flashed some good runs, but was never really allowed to get much in a rhythm. Chubb finished the game with 17 rushes for 75 yards.
On the Titans side of the ball, Mariota got over his 4/10 slow start and completed 10 of his final 14 passes. Mariota finished 14/24 for 248 yards and 3 TD’s. Henry got over his sputtering start for a 159 total yards and 2 TDs. Henry continues to show improved efficiency, amassing 19 carries for 84 yards and one reception for 75 yards.
Rookie wide receiver AJ Brown really flashed the talent that made the Titans pull the trigger on him in the second round, with three catches for 100 yards. Brown and Walker shouldered most of the receiving load as Walker finished with 5 catches for 55 yards and two touchdowns. Star receiver Corey Davis largely served as a decoy, and failed to catch any of his three targets.
Moving forward, the Titans are facing the Andrew Luck-less Colts at home next Sunday.