Despite losing to the lowly New York Jets on Sunday afternoon, the good news for the Tennessee Titans is that despite it is almost a certainty that they will be making the playoffs this 2021 due to an absolutely abysmal AFC South division. The bad news, though, is that the Titans just managed to lose to a Jets team that had only scored 20 total points through the first three weeks of the regular season–a slate that included a shutout by the Denver Broncos in Week 3.
Granted the Titans were on the road without two of their top offensive weapons in addition to a barely formidable defense also missing some key pieces, but this remains an inexcusable loss–one that was as close as it gets to being a tie. Now an even 2-2 on the season but still in first place in the AFC South, head coach Mike Vrabel certainly needs to right this ship sooner rather than later.
Luckily for Vrabel and Co., their rivals Jacksonville Jaguars are up next on the docket–a franchise that the Titans have owned on an annual basis for quite some time now.
Before that though, we highlighted four key takeaways from the Titans’ brutal loss to the Jets in Week 4.
4. New faces don’t equate to better defense for Titans
Despite the fact that the Titans “revamped” its entire defense following a season in which the unit was historically bad, it appears as though adding some new faces hasn’t really changed all that much down in Nashville.
The Titans’ defense remains quite hard to watch after allowing 27 points to a Jets team that was shutout by the Broncos in Week 3 and scored a mere 20 points in total heading into the Week 4 AFC clash in East Rutherford. Outside of second-year cornerback Kristian Fulton and up-and-coming linebacker David Long Jr., the Tennessee defense remains a major liability.
3. Absences of WRs A.J. Brown and Julio Jones too much to overcome
The Titans were obviously more than shorthanded on Sunday afternoon against the Jets as neither A.J. Brown nor Julio Jones played due to injury. The tandem serves as two of the best wide receivers in the NFL, and their absence was really felt.
With fellow Titans wideouts like Josh Reynolds, Chester Rogers and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine left for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee couldn’t really do much in the passing game outside of dumping the football down to back-up running back Jeremy McNichols on third and long. The presence of Brown and Jones shouldn’t have made all that much of a difference against a brutally bad Jets team, but it certainly did.
McNichols with the moves! @JeremyMcNichols
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) October 3, 2021
2. Titans RB Derrick Henry still cannot be stopped
The Titans employ arguably the best overall player in the NFL in running back Derrick Henry. Even in the absence of Jones and Brown, which allowed the Jets to stack the box and then some, Henry ran wild against “Gang Green” in Week 4.
Henry carried the football 33 times for 157 yards and one touchdown while averaging just shy of five yards per carry. Henry also had one or two runs that were very, very close to becoming highlight reel touchdowns from pretty far out. Regardless of strategy from the opposing defense, and even with or without the team’s superstar pass catchers in the lineup, Henry simply cannot be stopped at this point.
1. Titans cannot be legitimate threats in AFC with shaky offensive line
Thanks to the additions of former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones and former Pittsburgh Steelers pass rusher Bud Dupree, many pundits and those throughout the NFL landscape anointed the Titans as a legitimate threat to teams like the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC in 2021. However, without a formidable offensive line–a unit that somehow helped running back Derrick Henry rush for more than 2,000 yards just a season ago–the Titans cannot (and will not) serve as a threat to the top teams in the conference this time around.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) October 3, 2021
Even with Henry once again leading the league in rushing through the first four weeks of the 2021 season, the Titans have had some serious trouble pass blocking for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has taken a beating thus far into the campaign. If head coach Mike Vrabel cannot get things turned around in this department, the Titans will be make a swift exit come playoff time.
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