We Are Too Quick To Praise Or Condemn Titans' Play-Calling

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After the Titans’ excellent offensive output in Sunday’s sparkling win over the Bengals, Mike Vrabel was quick to deflect a question about Tim Kelly’s play-calling.

“I think all the credit goes to the players,” Vrabel said. “It does. We make all this up about play-callers. Give them a play and they go execute it. It's up to the players and they did a great job. That's what I'm saying.”

Chris Moore
  Chris Moore reaches for a pass against the Bengals/ Angie Flatt

Are some plays better than others? Are they better designed? Do they stand a better chance to work given what a defense is doing?

Sure. And we can tell some of that, particularly when one layers nicely on another or when something might build now on something that unfolded earlier.

But we tend to oversimplify our rating of play-calling, and I try to stay away from it because of that.

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Titans' Defense Changed the Game: See How It Completely Shut Down Bengals in 27-3 Victory

Titans' Defense Changed the Game: See How It Completely Shut Down Bengals in 27-3 Victory

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans' defensive changes after the Bengals' first drive keyed their 27-3 win in their thorough effort on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.

The Bengals' first series of the game was exactly what most people expected with the Titans playing a soft zone, allowing easy completions, big runs and a long, successful scoring drive for Joe Burrow and the offense.

Harold Landry
  Harold Landry harrassed Joe Burrow/ Courtesy Tennessee Titans

But that was it for the Bengals and Burrow. That opening drive accounted for 34 percent of Cincinnati’s yards for the entire game, their four first downs were the most in any possession and the 5 minutes and 48 seconds was the longest the Bengals held the ball all game. 

From there the Titans’ defense changed its plan and showed itself a tough, physical, and hard-tackling team for the remaining three quarters.

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PK TV: Titans 27, Bengals 3

PK TVNASHVILLE, Tenn. -- I talk about the unpredictability of the NFL as its top feature all the time. 

And the Titans looking awful last week and brilliant this week is just the most recent example of that. In Cleveland, they couldn't block people, couldn't move the ball or get Derrick Henry any space and couldn't stop explosive plays.

And at Nissan Stadium they found a balance that allowed them to buy Ryan Tannehill time, they drove for three touchdowns in a row, Henry ran for 122 yards and Joe Burrow and his great trio of receivers couldn't find anything longer than 17 yards.

Which team are they? As I wrote in my game column, it's somewhere in between. But that has to come as a relief because a week ago we weren't sure they were capable of anything like this at all.

Thanks to those who came to discuss it all with the rest of the membership. You're invited to rewatch on the private Facebook page or below at the secret YouTube.

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Titans Flip The Script And Show It All in Win -- Now Can They Build On It?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Even from the best teams, NFL seasons include significant variations from best games to worst. The question for a club near the middle is whether it can climb out of the downside often enough, playing to strengths, maximizing contributions and masking flaws.

In flipping a 27-3 loss in Cleveland into a 27-3 win over the Bengals at Nissan Stadium, the Titans did all of that and more, playing at peak levels on all levels.

Derrick Henry
  Derrick Henry throws a TD pass to Josh Whyle/ Angie Flatt

It was a wow performance, and while 24-point wins aren’t going to be the norm, some of the features from it should be more regular: a rhythm on offense that produced the sort of desirable third-downs they always talk about that made room for 64.3 percent on third and fourth downs and an efficient passing game, a timely defense that severely limited a gimpy Joe Burrow and stopped all but one series before the Bengals got into the red zone and overall sound special teams.

They are 2-2, the same as the other three members of the AFC South as they prepare for a trip to Indianapolis and their first game against a division foe.

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Titans' Mail: Tank And Trade Talk, Defenses Ahead And QB Change

Nissan Stadium BannerNASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Have I ever told you how much I loved the mail when I was a kid?

I wrote letters asking for autographs from athletes and celebrities, including a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) and checked every day to see what I got back at a time when much of what you got back was legit.

The guy who drew Dennis the Menace, Hank Ketchum, did a one-frame strip for me and Ralph Branca wrote in detail about the pitch Bobby Thompson hit for the Shot Heard Round the World.

And now I know this mailbag is your equivalent to that. How fun!

Be sure to check out the new episode of The Paul Kuharsky Podcast on how training camp lied to us. It awaits you on Apple, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, iHeart and YouTube.

Here we go:

Matthew Frazier Can we tank and get a qb?

They are not going to tank. Mike Vrabel is going to field a team that he thinks gives him the best chance to win, and the guys on the field are certainly going to play as well as they can to ensure they get paid next year, here or elsewhere.

Also, it’s unlikely the Titans will be so bad they’d get the first or second pick in the draft where you’d have to take Caleb Williams or Drake Maye.

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For Those Already Calling For Titans' OC Tim Kelly's Head

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The offense had to be better, and like with every team in the NFL, the Titans sold hope through the offseason.

What we heard about Tim Kelly’s offense and then what we saw at training camp looked and sounded good, and the weaponry seemed upgraded with DeAndre Hopkins taking over at the head of the line with the receivers, Treylon Burks and Chig Okonkwo maturing heading into Year Two and Tyjae Spears bringing a new element to the backfield. 

Tim Kelly
  Tim Kelly/ © George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

Now, three games in, a team that averaged 17.5 points in 2022 is averaging 15 points and has failed to score a touchdown in each of its losses.

So yeah, it’s been terrible so far.


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Titans' Tough Test Against Bengals: Can They Overcome A More Talented Team?

Titans' Tough Test Against Bengals: Can They Overcome A More Talented Team?

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Bengals offense got back on track Monday night versus the Rams.

Their simple offensive approach was to take their best offensive playmaker, Ja’Marr Chase and continuously beat anyone L.A. could line up against him. They found success with that and it also helped an injured Joe Burrow focus on getting the ball out of his hand quickly and into the hands of a dynamic after-the-catch runner.

Bengals-TitansFacing a potential high-scoring offense is exactly what the Titans don’t want to see right now. They aren’t going to win this game on field goals alone.  

The Bengals offense is a tough matchup for the Titans because of the number of offensive playmakers they have for the defense to focus on.

On the other side of the ball, the Bengals' defense had six sacks against the Rams last week. Pass protection has been a giant issue for the Titans all year and this game will be no different.

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PK TV: You Vented About The Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- To get to .500, the Titans will have to beat the team that's been a recent archnemisis on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.

The Cincinnati Bengals got to 1-2 with a win over the Rams Monday night. Recent history says they should feel pretty PK TVgood about their chances against Mike Vrabel's Titans.

They are 3-0 against them, including the 2021 gut-wrenching division-round playoff win in Nashville and a 20-16 loss in Nashville last year on Nov. 27 that began the dreaded seven-game, season-ending losing streak.

Joe Burrow is playing on a balky calf but he's got great weapons to challenge a secondary that is giving up big plays. And Trey Hendrickson looked good giving up two sacks while nose tackle D.J. Readrr has given Tennessee Problems in the past.

It's hard to feel great about a bounce back from the loss in Cleveland, though it's something Vrabel's done with his team quite a lot in the past.

Many of you joined our weekly broadcast conversation at the half of Thursday Night Football to discuss all the Titans' issues and all your concerns. Head to the private Facebook page or below on YouTube to rewatch the excellent c conversation.

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