We take a look at how the Tennessee Titans’ offense matches up against the Houston Texans’ defense.
The Tennessee Titans take a trip to Houston this week to play in a pivotal divisional game against the Texans. If Tennessee can go into Houston and come out with a victory, the team will share the spot for atop the AFC South. The defense has played exceptionally well thus far, it’s the offense that fans should be asking questions about.
The ‘exotic smash-mouth’ offense has had it’s issues to find any kind of consistency through the first three weeks of the regular season. Marcus Mariota has struggled protecting the football despite being protected by an improved offensive line, the wide receivers are having problems getting open, and the run game hasn’t been dominate enough to win games on it’s own. Something must change if the Titans are to contend for a division title by season’s end.
The good news is that the team’s most explosive pass catcher, Kendall Wright, is expected to make his 2016 debut this Sunday for the team and it couldn’t come at a better time. Tajae Sharpe has been solid, but the offense desperately needs someone who can create consistent separation down the field and make plays with the ball in their hands after the catch, which is where Wright can fit right in.
Pro Bowler Delanie Walker will be a game-time decision. Despite Jace Amaro putting together a solid performance last week, the team would like to have one of the most dangerous threats in the NFL at the tight end position back on the field being Mariota’s go to target. Against a team like Houston, the young signal caller can use all the play makers he can.
Houston’s defense is not one to take lightly, even with the absence of J.J. Watt and potentially Brian Cushing. The team still has plenty of players who can create havoc around the line of scrimmage with the likes of Whitney Mercilus, Benardrick McKinney, Jadeveon Clowney, and John Simon. Mercilus, McKinney, and Simon have all already tallied two sacks through three games, and will be looking to take down Mariota before he can get into a rhythm.
ESPN.com has the Texans passing defense ranked as best in the entire league. With cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Jonathan Joseph locking down opposing receivers and Quintin Demps roaming the field behind those corners, it’s easy to see why this pass defense is so successful playing behind a deadly front seven.
On the other hand, ESPN has the Texans rush defense as 22nd best in the NFL, which should have DeMarco Murray grinning from ear to ear. Murray has produced just like the Titans envisioned, and will be in for another big workload against what seems to be the weak spot in the Texans defense.
Murray has been carrying the load for the Titans, currently standing 8th in the league in terms of rushing yards. Him and Derrick Henry should be in for a solid day as long as the team doesn’t fall behind too early. Look for the Titans to really lean on the run heavy in the beginning stages of the game this Sunday, as they will try to control the clock and matriculate the ball down the field as slowly as possible.
Everybody knows in the NFL, you can’t just rely 100% on the run or pass. Mariota will be put in key situations of the game, just like any other NFL quarterback, and will be asked to make a play. If he does will be up to him and this group of under achieving pass catchers. With Wright and hopefully Walker back in the mix, Mariota has a shot to finally look like the franchise quarterback every Titans fan is hoping he can become.
If the offensive line can continue their development as a top tier unit up front, DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry can be in for yet another solid performance. But like the games prior to this, the game will most likely end up in the hands of Mariota. We’ll see if the coaching staff and group of route runners will put him in a position to succeed.