High-powered Chiefs offense, regardless of QB, is Titans’ challenge

Wide receiver Tyreek Hill and the KC offense have proven to be adept regardless of the quarterback.
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid, the decision on when Patrick Mahomes plays again is easy. It’s when the reigning NFL MVP is physically ready.

He’s ready now. The Chiefs (6-3) announced Friday that Mahomes will start Sunday at the Tennessee Titans.

 

Not knowing whether Mahomes or Matt Moore would start, Titans cornerback Logan Ryan said earlier this week that he wouldn’t “chase ghosts.” He was preparing for the NFL’s second-best passing offense — the Chiefs are averaging 300.7 yards a game — no matter who’s at quarterback. Ryan wants the Titans to get back to the defense that didn’t allow a team to score more than 20 points through the first seven games.

“We got to go play our brand of defense against their brand of offense, and there will be some fireworks,” Ryan said.

This is a crucial game for the Titans (4-5), who are coming off a 30-20 loss at Carolina and sit at the bottom of the AFC South, yet only two games behind first-place Houston (and still with two to play against the Texans). After the game against Kansas City they get their bye, when they will seek to fix some of their offensive issues.

“We all have to have a sense of urgency,” Titans running back Derrick Henry said. “We know what we’re up against. We know what we have to do.”

READY AND WAITING

Moore will return to his backup role after two solid starts. He threw for 275 yards and a TD in the Chiefs’ 26-23 win over Minnesota last week. He’s had at least 250 yards passing and a passer rating over 100 in each of what he called a wild couple of weeks.

“I’ve learned a lot,” Moore said. “So what it means moving forward is that I have to be ready to go at all times, and who knows what the future holds. In this league, you never know. I’m trying to be the best I can be every day and that is all.”

GIVE IT TO HENRY

The Titans have been shut out in the first half four times this season — all losses. A bigger issue in Carolina was that Henry ran only twice before halftime, though he still finished with 99 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns thanks to a big drive to open the third quarter.

Now Tennessee has another chance to run against a Kansas City defense that ranks 29th against the run. Kansas City has allowed at least 180 yards rushing four times this season, though the Chiefs have held their last three opponents to 118 yards or fewer. Still, running Henry early would give the Titans a chance to get their offense back on track.

“We want to get him carries, get him going early, set the tone that way, and then play off of that,” Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill said.

REID VS. TITANS

Only Bill Belichick has more wins than Reid among active coaches, yet Reid is 1-7 all-time against the Titans, including 0-4 with Philadelphia. He’s 1-3 with the Chiefs, and his lone win came in 2013. Reid has lost three straight to two different Titans coaches. This will be his first game against Titans coach Mike Vrabel, who played his last two seasons in the NFL with Kansas City.

CLEAN UP THE MISTAKES

The Titans have hurt themselves more than the opponent has in their losses. Too often penalties have wiped out big gains, and they had three turnovers last week. They’ve also allowed an NFL-worst 38 sacks, and the combination of issues has made it tough to clean everything up.

“Eliminate the dumb things that we can control like the technique, the fundamental stuff,” Tannehill said. “When it comes down to execution, just execute and we’ll be in good shape.”

INJURY REPORT

The Chiefs are healing. Defensive end Frank Clark, who has missed two straight games with a neck issue, and cornerback Kendall Fuller, who has missed three games with an injured thumb, both returned to practice this week.

Titans center Ben Jones is working back from a concussion that kept him out of last week’s game. But Tennessee is banged up. Four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jurrell Casey has not been practicing after missing a game. Wide receiver Corey Davis also has missed two straight practices with an injured hip, and starting inside linebacker Jayon Brown (groin) has not practiced.