The Tennessee Titans’ offense, led by a familiar face to the Las Vegas Raiders, offensive coordinator Todd Downing, has been a disappointment so far in the season. They currently rank 27th in total yards per game at 273 and, more surprisingly, are 25th in rushing yards per game at 86.5. Like all NFL teams, there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly. Today, we’ll break down each aspect of the Titans’ offense.
Raiders Blog: A Closer Look at the Tennessee Titans’ Offense
There hasn’t been much good for the Titans offense so far, but their skill weapons have potential and proven stars. After losing wide receiver A.J. Brown, the Titans’ skill positions didn’t look good. But after the draft and offseason acquisitions combined with what was left over from last year, they ended up with Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Kyle Phillips, Robert Woods, Treylon Bruks, Geoff Swain, Austin Hooper, Derrick Henry, and Hassan Haskins. On paper, these weapons don’t look too bad, but their performance has left a sour taste in Titans fans’ mouths.
They rank in the bottom ten in total yards per game, rushing yards per game, and passing yards per game. They are also the fourth worst offense in DVOA. With these types of weapons, this offense shouldn’t be struggling this much, but it doesn’t all fall on them. They can only run and catch as far as the quarterback and offensive line set them up. Henry and Woods are players who are established in the league. At some point, it all has to come together, right?
The bad? It could either be the quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, or the offensive line. They both deserve it, so they are the “bad” for the Titans’ offense.
Tannehill is averaging 191.5 pass yards per game. In a normal year where Henry is averaging 150 plus yards a game, these numbers don’t look too bad, but Henry isn’t dominating the touches thus far. Tannehill has never had the pressure on him to carry an offense because of his personnel, but this year there has been more asked of him, and he hasn’t been able to find his groove. The Raiders will attempt to shut down Henry and make Tannehill beat them. Sunday will show us a lot about the Titan quarterback.
The Raiders aren’t the only team with offensive line issues. Left tackle Taylor Lewan was a Pro Bowler for three seasons from 2016-2018. Ever since then, injuries and inconsistent play have hindered him. He was injured during their Week 2 blowout against the Buffalo Bills and likely won’t play as he hasn’t participated in any practice this week. That means the Raiders’ pass rush will likely go up against backup left tackle Dennis Daley. The Titans’ have reliable players in their interior offensive line, but their offensive numbers show that they have regressed. They have finished as one of the top five rushing attacks the past two seasons, but their start thus far has been alarming. With Lewan’s injury, don’t be surprised to see more two-tight end sets than usual against the Raiders to help the offensive line.
The offensive scheme will be run by an old Raider friend, Todd Downing. That alone qualifies as “ugly.”
During their first game of the season against the New York Giants, Downing was only able to put up 20 points against a New York Giant defense that lost their defensive coordinator and multiple starters during the offseason. They were also without their two top edge rushers, Azeez Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeaux.
During their embarrassing Monday night loss against the Bills, Downing drew up a great opening drive that resulted in a Henry touchdown. After that, things went downhill. His script was being read perfectly by the Bills’ defense. Eight of their following nine possessions were either three-and-outs or turnovers. For the most part, his offensive creativity is bad, as when defenses see Geoff Swaim lined up as the tight end, they know it is a run and when Austin Hooper is in, it is a pass.
His biggest issue is how he uses his weapons. Woods and Burks are great yards after the catch guys, but Downing has a hard time putting them in those types of situations. Henry is at his best when he is running downhill or between the tackles, but Downing keeps trying to use him on outside runs such as tosses or pitches. Doing this limits Henry’s abilities.
This offense was in the dirt because of Downing’s inability to utilize his personnel in the right positions. The Titans’ offense has too many talented players to be this abysmal. It all comes down to the philosophy and scheme of Downing.
*Top Photo: AP Photo/Adrian Kraus