NASHVILLE, TN – Starting with a 0-2 record after finishing last season as the AFC No. 1 seed wasn’t the way the Tennessee Titans expected things to go.
However, that’s exactly where they find themselves entering Week 3 against the Las Vegas Raiders (1 p.m. ET, Fox) at Nissan Stadium.
It’s not yet time to press the panic button, especially considering that South Asia have only one win after eight matches. The problem with Tennessee, however, is that there are recurring problems that have played a role in each loss.
Here’s a look at four areas where the giants need to show improvement to prevent losses from accumulating:
Defense allows explosive plays
The 21-20 loss to the New York Giants in the season opener was set up with two big games in about two minutes. The Giants running back Saquon Barkley cut 68 yards, then hit it in the end zone from 4 yards a couple of games later.
Barkley found a lane when Titans Cornerback Kristian Fulton was trying to avoid a safety block and safety corner outside of Amani Hooker before racing on the field. Safety Kevin Byard managed to track down Barkley and push him out of bounds.
The second result in two games came as the next Giants had a 65-yard pass from quarterback Daniel Jones to wide receiver Sterling Sheppard. Fulton was covering Shepard in the back of the play, but was caught looking at Jones when the receiver broke in the field. Jones unleashed a bomb that hit Fulton’s head in Shepherd’s arms.
Last week’s 41-7 loss to the Buffalo Bills saw another big play allowed. Receiver Stefon Diggs set the Titans on fire for a 46-yard touchdown as he turned rookie quarterback Tre Avery around and broke into the deep post.
“Sometimes it’s just a single loss,” Bayard said of the explosive plays allowed by the defense. “Some of them are interfering. It’s a lot of things. We have to correct them because if we don’t give up on explosive plays, we can be a really good defense.”
There is no real threat
Both the Giants and the Bills weren’t afraid to get their defensive backs in head-to-head battles against the Titans’ passing attackers. Both teams stacked the box heavily to continue running back Derek Henry from his signature long-distance break.
As teams continue to load the chest, more singles matches will appear.
“I always take it one by one,” Trillon Burks, one of the rookie recipients, said. “It just shows that they are becoming more confident that their man is holding me one-on-one.”
Midfielder Ryan Tannehill manages to spread the ball around, especially for beginners – Burks and Kyle Philips. Phillips led the team in goals (9), receptions (6) and yards (66) in the season opener. Burks was targeted six times against the Bills and gained four assists for the captain’s 47 yards.
Someone needs to step up and make the opposing defenses pay for using most of their resources to stop the hasty attack. Burks has shown the possibility of doing so, but it may take some time before his production expands.
Hasty infantry attack
Henry has 107 yards to dash in two games. He finished 82 yards in 21 carries against the Giants and then 13 carries for 25 yards and touchdowns against Buffalo. His longest run this season is just 18 yards.
So what’s going on?
The Giants and Bells found ways to get to Henry before he could reach the line of melee. Of his 31 pregnancies, Henry has been hit at or behind the line of scrimmage 16 times according to ESPN stats and info.
“We need 11 just to be better at the running game,” Henry said. “I wasn’t as good as I needed to be last week, and we all have to be better collectively. We have some bad plays we know we can be better at, and I can be better. It’s all about keeping each other in charge. That’s not Our absolute standard.
Henry’s average yards-per-carry (1.9) versus billing was his fourth-lowest average in a game in which he had 10 or more campaigns.
Despite the difficulties, Titans coach Mike Frabel feels the running game can be saved.
“We have great confidence in our game,” said Frabel. “We have a lot of confidence in our runner. We just have to make sure now that we’re all on the same page, that we’re blocking things the right way.”
Special teams fight
The areas of improvement do not stop at attack and defense. Special teams have problems, too.
The biggest stumble in the season opener came when kicker Randy Bullock missed a 47-yard field goal that could have won the game. Sure, the game shouldn’t have come down to Bullock’s field goal, but it did.
The return position of the asymptote is currently in flux as well. Philips’ first comeback in the NFL went for 46 yards against the Giants. However, Philips blocked a kick that was recovered into the Titans’ 11-yard line later in the game.
Philips successfully fielded a kick against the Bills that was recovered at the 20-yard line at Tennessee leading to a 37-yard field goal to give Buffalo a 27-7 lead, and Hooker blocked the kick later in the game, but it was recovered by his Titanic.
“We’re going to see who’s going back there,” said special teams coach Craig Aukerman. “We have to get back to the basics of getting the ball squared with our elbows inside and watching it through. I have to do a better job in training.”