It’s fair to start asking questions about the future of the Tennessee Titans after they were punched in the mouth early by the Houston Texans and unable to claw back in a 22-13 loss. The elements and injuries seemed to catch up all at once for Tennessee, which turned the ball over four times.
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In spite of Ryan Tannehill’s disastrous string of turnovers, you can make the argument that his outing was more impressive than Texans QB Tyrod Taylor, who threw only 29% of his passes beyond the sticks but barely completed more than half of his passes.
The best running game Houston had all day came from the legs of Taylor, with the Titans' front four dominating another offensive line. Rex Burkhead averaged just 2.2 yards on his 18 carries, and 92% of the yards came after contact.
Chris Conley‘s 37 yards receiving led the position group, and no Texans WR had more than four targets. Conley was the only Houston WR who did not gain more than half of his yardage after the catch.
The Texans OL allowed a combined nine pressures by Tennessee’s front four, with seven categorized as pass protection “losses” where the rusher beats the block outright. Taylor was able to use his legs to escape for five scrambles, keeping the OL from allowing QB hits or sacks.
Jacob Martin and Ross Blacklock each put up a sack in their combined 77 pass rushing opportunities, and the aggressive play of the Texans' DL still stands as the only bright spot on that side of the ball — even when it doesn’t produce as it did on Sunday.
Kamu Grugier-Hill got after Tannehill in his three pass rush opportunities, two resulting in QB hits. He added three run stops (one for a loss) and allowed just 1.20 yards per coverage snap, along with an interception.
Kamu Grugier-Hill | Week 11
Tannehill, for the first time this season, had the ball placed squarely in his hands. He promptly handed it over to the Texans with four interceptions in his 52 dropbacks. The worst was the final one, a throw late and inside of the receiver in the fourth quarter.
Ryan Tannehill | Week 11
|Turnover Worthy Plays||6|
|Passes Broken Up||3|
Tennessee is trying its best to replicate the run game it had when Derrick Henry was healthy, using a committee of bruisers and lining up with as many fullbacks and tight ends it could. Adrian Peterson had 38 yards, Dontrell Hilliard 35 and D’Onta Foreman 25. Each back gained over 70% of his yards after contact, fighting through heavy boxes.
|Player||Attempts||Yards Per Carry||% of Yards After Contact|
The Titans offense desperately misses the vertical threat of Julio Jones to open up space in the intermediate passing game, and A.J. Brown ended up leaving the game in the third quarter due to a hand injury suffered on a pass earlier in the game. That left Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, who finished with 107 yards despite only being targeted on 22% of his receiving snaps.
Rodger Saffold had a tough day in protection, allowing the pocket to be crushed to the tune of seven pressures. He was never beaten outright by a pass rusher, but his inability to stand firm against Houston’s interior rush led to some discomfort for Tannehill.
Jeffery Simmons is growing into one of the most feared interior linemen, logging another four pressures on Sunday — two of which were pass-rush wins. Denico Autry added five of his own — all being hurries — and the combination was able to flush Taylor out of the pocket multiple times.
Jayon Brown gave the Titans defense strong production against the run with five run stops. Dylan Cole and Monty Rice each had a tackle for loss of their own, and the second level of the defense did what it could to control the outcome of the game.
Elijah Molden‘s use as a sub-package DB has been a revelation for this defense, as he forced an incompletion, gathered a defensive stop and allowed just 24 yards on five coverage targets.