The Tennessee Titans open up their 2019 season Sunday in Cleveland against the Browns. Now I know you all have went ahead and put a lot of your money on the Brown to win this game.
But, don’t count out this Titans team, a team that’s gone 9-7 the past 3 seasons and has probably the best offense on paper the Titans have had during their 4 year stretch with Mariota at QB.
There are plenty important story lines to watch during this game. But I compiled them all down to just 7 to make this experience as easy as possible.
I hope you enjoy.
1. Marcus Mariota Gets 1st Real Chance to Prove Doubters Wrong
Talk about an awesome chance for the Tennessee Titans. You head on the road to face a team that’s been the absolute talk of the offseason. Not only that, the environment you’ll be playing in will probably be the rowdiest you’ll maybe play in the whole year.
All eyes will be glued to this game, and this is where you’ll have a chance to get people talking.
That chance is right in front of Titans QB Marcus Mariota. Who has been up and down through his 4 year career with the Titans. His name has been dragged through the national media mud and has even had his own job threatened by national media itself.
But here he is, still standing and is now presented a great chance to put his name back on the map once again.
Now he has to stay healthy, that’s been his largest problem over his 4 years at QB. While he hasn’t missed an eye opening amount of games, he’s been nicked up a good amount.
Even having to sit out last season’s play in game against the Colts. Due to his neck injury being at risk for more complications that could’ve even ended his career.
Mariota has a opportunity to quiet his doubters. A chance to show the Titans he’s the guy and declaring that he’s here to stay at the Titans QB for the foreseeable future.
2. Titans Offensive Line Will Have Their Hands Full
When Pro Bowl LT Taylor Lewan’s 4 game suspension was announced, Myles Garrett was licking his chops.
Nonetheless, the Browns employ one of the best young defenses in all of football. It so happens that their strongest position group is going up against one of the Titans’ more struggling units right now.
Dennis Kelly is the fill in for Lewan during his 4 game suspension, but hasn’t looked all that well in the preseason. Roger Saffold, the big money acquisition by way of the Los Angeles Rams, has gotten bulldozed twice, the RG spot is still up in the air, and Jack Conklin is a mixed bag. You don’t know what you’re going to get.
Take all those struggles and pin them up against Myles Garrett, Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson, and Larry Ogunjobi. Yeah, you could be looking at a classic butt whooping in the trenches.
In order for Marcus Mariota to leave Cleveland in one piece Sunday afternoon, the Titans have to hold up in pass protection and dominate in the run game.
Now of course the Titans will keep an extra TE or RB to help in pass protection, but even that might not be enough.
We’ll see though.
3. Baker Mayfield & New Look Browns Offense
The Browns have a hell of an offense don’t they?
Baker Mayfield will be manning the offense, after coming off a record breaking rookie year. In which he threw 27 touchdowns, breaking the single season rookie record. Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, and Nick Chubb make up a 3 headed monster on the Browns offense.
Beckham and Landry have a great reputation just by themselves. Chubb however could be forgotten due to those 2 previous names, but shouldn’t. As he has a tendency to grind down defenses and even get on his horse, taking long runs the distance.
With that offense being so explosive, the Titans will have their hands full and then some. Keeping contain and staying disciplined will go a long way towards the Titans defense slowing down an offense that has many calling it arguably the best on paper entering the 2019 season.
4. Titans Pass Rush Must Come Alive and Stay Alive
To say the Titans need more pressure from the EDGE is an understatement. Last season, Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo started as the 2 OLBs/EDGE rushers and didn’t bring the necessary play that was needed more often. Now with both Orakpo and Morgan retired, Harold Landry and Cameron Wake replace those 2.
Landry had a nice rookie year last season, getting 4.5 sacks while getting into the backfield regularly on passing downs. He had a tendency to get washed out of the run game however, and relied on speed a little more than you’d want. If he can make a big impact on this game, that’ll open up the interior.
Where a certain underrated interior DL has track record of wreaking havoc. Jurrell Casey, that’s his name, has been the most consistent defensive player for the Titans ever since he started his career in Tennessee in 2011. He’s still vastly disrespected among national NFL circles, but boy will he have a chance to get going on Sunday.
Not to mention, Cameron Wake is here as well, and he still has plenty juice in the tank to dominate a game.
This Titans pass rush needs to get going Sunday, early and often.
If not, the Titans defense could be in for a long day.
5. Titans Weapons Are New and Improved
The Titans’ arsenal of weapons has gone under the radar most of the offseason, but this group of skill players could be on the verge of something special.
Corey Davis will be matched up against Denzel Ward, a Pro Bowler as a rookie in 2018. This’ll be the most heated matchup of the day by far, so heated that it could open up opportunities for other Titans WRs.
Tajae Sharpe and AJ Brown will be lined up as WR2 opposite Davis, but Sharpe could get the majority of the snaps there.
Adam Humphries will be in the slot most of the time, but has the ability to play outside as well. These 4 guys need to get going early on Sunday. To quiet that noisy home crowd and put their stamp on this game.
Did I even mention that Delanie Walker is back?
6. Derrick Henry Out to Prove His Worth
Marcus Mariota has been all the talk regarding a make it or break it year. But Derrick Henry is in the exact same situation heading into 2019. He was stuck behind Demarco Murray in his first 2 season in the league.
But 2018 came, and he was finally the top dog in the backfield. While there was loads of potential there, Henry simply didn’t have the best start to the 2018 season. It wasn’t until the last 4 weeks of the season when he really turned it up. When I say he turned it up, he REALLY turned it up.
Henry rushed for 508 yards during the last 4 weeks of the season. Pounding his way through defenses and showing what he can do when he’s 100% on his game.
But that’s been the problem. Henry hasn’t been 100% on his game consistently throughout his 3 year career. If he puts in a nice year, but with consistency, this Titans offense will be an offense that’ll be respected.
7. Arthur Smith’s 1st Game As Offensive Coordinator
Arthur Smith has served as a tight end coach for a good amount of his time in Tennessee. He’s survived 3 head coaches, constant roster shuffling, and even an ownership change.
Finally though, he’s gotten a chance to be the guy in charge of the offense, and has a good bit of experience watching along and putting his input in to prove that he’s ready.
It’ll be interesting to see what start the Titans will end up with Sunday in Cleveland. If the Titans offense gets off to a quick start, it’ll put all the pressure on the Browns to come out and do the same.
If a slow starts occurs however, watch out.
Flip the page to see my prediction Titans vs Browns.