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The Analytics Of The Titans' Upset In Miami

By JAKE DOWNARD

Jake Downard is a law student who creates NFL and NBA content focused on analytics on Twitter as @JakeAndBall. He also works with fanspo.com. A glossary of the analytics terms he uses is at the bottom of the piece.

For a glossary of the metrics and terms used in this post, please see this earlier file.

The Miami Dolphins have the best offense in the NFL. This season, they rank first in total yards of offense, first in yards per game, first in passing yards, and second in rushing yards. Tua Tagovailoa is right in the thick of the MVP race, Tyreek Hill is on pace to break the single-season record for receiving yards, their offensive line has graded out as a top-10 unit throughout the season, and the duo of De’Von Achane and Raheem Mostert have been tremendous running the ball. 

 

Tennessee Titans running back Tyjae Spears (32) catches a pass over Miami Dolphins linebacker Bradley Chubb (2) during the second half of an NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Dec. 11, 2023.
Tyjae Spears/ © Jim Rassol / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Titans’ defense, on the other hand, has struggled mightily as of late. They dealt Kevin Byard to the Philadelphia Eagles in late October, allowed over 300 passing yards to Gardner Minshew and the Indianapolis Colts last week, and were without Jeffery Simmons Monday night. The Dolphins were undefeated at home, and the Titans were winless on the road. The sportsbooks, the Titans’ fanbase, and the vast majority of the NFL media expected the Dolphins offense to do unspeakable things to the Titans in Miami. 

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How The Unstoppable Dolphins Were Taken Down By The Titans

How The Unstoppable Dolphins Were Taken Down By The Titans

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – There are no moral victories in a closely played game against a team that is significantly more talented. 

The Titans didn’t need one after coming from behind to win a game versus what was supposed to be an unstoppable Dolphins offense.  

In a game that was easy to predict the outcome, the Titans' defense decided that wasn’t going to be the case.

Dec 11, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Will Levis (8) celebrates after defeating the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Will Levis/ © Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

This is why they play the games. What looks good on paper, what is supposed to happen doesn’t always come to fruition when there are emotions, momentum and humans playing the game.  

The Titans' defense, especially the red-zone defense was dominant, allowing yards and chunk plays, but making the necessary stops. 

The Titans’ offense came to life in the second half. A combination of big first down throws to DeAndre Hopkins, and the check down throws to Chig Okonkwo and Tyjae Spears by Will Levis showed not only his maturation but his ability in critical situations to be decisive.   

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Historic Titans' Win Now Better Than Draft Position Later

Historic Titans' Win Now Better Than Draft Position Later

They seemed to have it under control. They handed it away. They grabbed it back. 

Monday night’s thrilling win at Hard Rock Stadium over the Dolphins was the memorable sort that could have long-term importance for Will Levis, Tyjae Spears and other pieces the Titans will be built around going forward. It helps Mike Vrabel as he attempts to maintain a culture with a locker room thin on talent. And frankly, it was fun to watch an electric 4 minutes and 34 seconds in which the Titans drove to two scores and 15 points while holding Miami twice and offsetting a great deal of bad football – earlier in the game, and earlier in the season.

Per TruMedia, Tennessee is the only team this century to overcome a deficit of 14 points or more in the final three minutes of a game and win in regulation.

Dec 11, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Tennessee Titans cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (0) breaks up a pass to Miami Dolphins wide receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. (11) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Sean Murphy-Bunting breaks up a pass for Cedric Wilson Jr./ © Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

So take all your anticipation of exactly which pick the Titans will have in 135 days, and the idea a higher pick guarantees a more successful player, and shelve it. If you can’t enjoy an exhilarating win by your team engineered by its rookie quarterback as he topped 300 yards for the first time, and if it doesn’t make you happy two days after a member of the team’s Ring of Honor, Frank Wycheck, passed away way too early at 52, you need to recalibrate.

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The Good Memories Start With Frank Wycheck's Head In My Garage

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Sometime last year, I pulled into my garage and saw what looked like a weird crack in the wall in front of me. I filled with dread over the idea that I had a big issue that would cost a whole bunch of money to fix and got out of the car grudgingly, slowly making my way over to assess the damage.

It was no damage, just the back of Frank Wycheck’s head!Frank Wycheck

For a home game against the Falcons in Oct. of 2015, the Titans had some of those giant cutout heads in the crowd and Frank’s was one of them.

I managed to commandeer one and it wound up in my garage. If I remember correctly, he faced out for a time, but as friendly as we were, I quickly realized it was a little too much to face him every time I pulled in, and I flipped him around and then forgot he was there. The thick cardboard edge against the wall later fooled me into thinking it was a fissure.

The irony is, I actually did want to see Frank more. All of his friends did. And outside of work for a long time he’d say, "Sure, buddy I’ll see you there" and then most often no-show. His deflecting grief for it was simply just part of the dance of (kind of) being in Frank’s circle.

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Beloved Titans Tight End And Broadcaster Frank Wycheck Dead At 52

Frank Wycheck, a beloved everyman tight end for the Oilers and Titans who went on to broadcast for Titans Radio and a successful Nashville morning show, passed away in the Chattanooga area Saturday, his family said.

He was 52.

A statement from the family: "At this time, it appears Frank Wycheck fell inside his Chattanooga, TN home and hit his head on Saturday morning. He was found unresponsive that afternoon. Wycheck moved to Chattanooga,TN this past summer to be closer to his family. He leaves behind two adult daughters, Deanna and Madison, both married, and three grandchildren - Leo, Stevie and August." 

89 Frank Wycheck, TE (How many Titans have worn the number: 8) Here, Tennessee Titans tight end Wycheck (89) sits on the sideline late in the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Alltell Stadium Dec. 22, 2002 in Jacksonville, Fla. Titans V Jaguars
Frank Wycheck/ © George Walker IV / The Tennessean via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Wycheck moved back to the Philadelphia area where he grew up around 2019 and worked at his alma mater, Archbishop Ryan before relocating to Chattanooga.

Frank John Wycheck was a sixth-round pick out of Maryland in the 1993 draft and after two shaky seasons, he was a $100 waiver claim by the Oilers in 1995.

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Titans' Limited Chance In Miami Revolved Around Derrick Henry

Titans' Limited Chance In Miami Revolved Around Derrick Henry

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On paper, this is a mismatch. The way the teams are playing currently, this is a mismatch. Given the confidence displayed on the field by both, this is a mismatch.  

So what can the Titans do to not be embarrassed on Monday Night Football? 

Derrick Henry and Will Levis
Will Levis and Derrick Henry/ Courtesy Tennessee Titans

They will be without one of their better players in Jeffrey Simmons who tends to rise to the occasion in games like this and would be one spot that wouldn’t be a mismatch in favor of Miami.

This is gut-check time for veterans Derrick Henry, DeAndre Hopkins, Harold Landry, Teair Tart, Denico Autry and Amani Hooker.  

The team needs to simplify this game. Take it drive by drive. The Titans need to go old school on the Dolphins and run the clock out.

Win time of possession by a considerable margin. Win the line of scrimmage in the run game and allow Henry to impose his will on the defensive front and undersized linebacker corp. 

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Podcast: Titans' Ran Carthon As A Background Guy

Podcast: Titans' Ran Carthon As A Background Guy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The way the Titans have responded, or appeared to have responded, to outside talk of Ran Carthon's performance and background is odd and goes against what their PR philosophy has been for a long time.

The Paul Kuharsky PodcastHe recently spent time contradicting himself in an ESPN.com article that was half about him, saying he stays in the background because this part of the season isn't about him.

It's odd in the middle of their 4-8 season of struggle.

That's where we start this week's edition of The Paul Kuharsky Podcast. The new episode awaits you on Apple, Spotify, Google Podcasts, iHeart and YouTube, which is also embedded below.

Other subjects I dive into:

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Will Levis Flashed, Tyjae Spears Featured, Draft Debate And More

Will Levis Flashed, Tyjae Spears Featured, Draft Debate And More

By MIKE HERNDON, columnist

Trying to describe anything about the unhinged AFC South tilt that was Titans-Colts on Sunday at Nissan Stadium feels futile. That was, simply, one of the weirdest football games that I have watched in quite some time.

The Titans, who most believed would be closer to where the Colts are currently – 7-5 and battling for the AFC South – dropped to 4-8 overall and 0-3 in the division while losing three of their best players to injury in the process. Prognosis on return varies from season-ending (Ryan Stonehouse) to “likely to miss a few weeks” (Jeffery Simmons) to “has a chance to play Monday night” (Derrick Henry), but it’s safe to say that any hopes of a miraculous playoff run from this Tennessee team can be put to rest at this point.

Tyjae Spears
Tyjae Spears/ Angie Flatt

Give Mike Vrabel’s team some credit though. They didn’t lay down, at least not in this game. It was a backyard brawl from start to finish. However, in the end, they came up short, as they so often have over the past 19 games, a stretch that has seen them go 4-15.

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