NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Quick-release quarterbacks have increased the value of interior pressure in recent years, and the Titans got a ton of it in Los Angeles, keying the win over the Rams.

Jeffery Simmons and Denico Autry stomped around Los Angeles’ backfield with regularity, causing all sorts of problems for Matthew Stafford, a quarterback right in the middle of many MVP conversations.

Denico Autry and Jeffery Simmons

Courtesy Tennessee Titans

Simmons dragged Stafford down three times in the first half, with four total hits and three tackles for a loss. Autry recorded 1.5 sacks a tackle for a loss and three QB hits while batting down two passes at the line.

They were the main forces of disruption in the first game where the Titans’ offense had to figure things out without Derrick Henry against another tough defense. Tennessee’s D, a laughingstock a year ago, put on a massive primetime performance.

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Scouting review: How Jeffery Simmons roughed up the Rams

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Sometimes the best offense is a scoring defense.

In Los Angeles, the Titans created pressure, turnovers and disrupted the Rams and their normal flow offensive flow.

Jeffery Simmons and Matthew Stafford

© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Titans’ defense won this game in a good example of a game plan that was executed by the performance of the players.

It all started with the defensive line and in particular the two defensive tackles, Jeffrey Simmons and Denico Autry.

Autry started the pressure, hurries and sacks and Simmons seemed to get into a rhythm with a mix of his bull rush and inside gap penetration. He also finished off a sack on a twist and stunt inside.

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In L.A., swarming Titans' defense led the way to another surprise

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The big names are really on offense, starting with the shelved Derrick Henry, but with A.J. Brown and Julio Jones and Ryan Tannehill also as headliners and Taylor Lewan and Rodger Saffold certainly notable too.

The money is there as well, with five of the top eight cap hits on the 2021 Tennessee Titans on offense.

Every NFL team aims for balance, but most are better on one side of the ball. That’s certainly been the case for the Titans since Tannehill took over as quarterback in Week 6 in 2019 and Henry really got chugging consistently later that season.

Jeffery Simmons and Matthew Stafford

© George Walker IV / / USA TODAY NETWORK

Last year’s defense was generally a miserable unit, allowing opponents to convert over half their third downs and sacking quarterbacks a grand total of 19 times.

But in completing a marvelous month with a 28-16 win over the Rams, the Titans defense did the hard work against a team that averaged 31 points.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Adrian Peterson paused for a second to calculate and seemed confident he knew the eight-game records of the last two teams he played on. 

He missed a bit, but his point was on target.

Joining the 6-2, AFC-leading Tennessee Titans is a whole different deal than being part of 1-7 Washington in 2019 or 3-5 Detroit in 2020.

Adrian Peterson

The smiling Peterson, the fifth-leading rusher of all-time with 14,820 yards, spoke after his third practice in Nashville.

He's part of the Titans' plan for replacing Derrick Henry as they try to maintain a run-heavy identity and a similar offense to what's gotten them to where they are.

He's not yet spoken to Henry but said now that things have slowed down a big he intends to reach out and see how the fellow Heisman Trophy winner is doing after Tuesday's foot surgery. [Unlocked]

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Scouting preview: Big changes for Ryan Tannehill vs. Rams without Derrick Henry

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Life without Derrick Henry begins.

The one player the team couldn’t afford to lose.

What do the Titans do now?

With Henry, the play-action game was the focal point of the passing attack.

Ryan Tannehill

Courtesy Tennessee Titans

The play-action allowed average receiving tight ends like Geoff Swaim, Anthony Firkser and MyCole Pruitt to become productive receiving options.

It created single coverage on the outside to receivers like A.J. Brown that would normally have extra attention on critical downs and distance.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In the numbers game where the Titans’ offense nearly always sees a single high safety with eight men in the box as a result of Derrick Henry’s presence, defenses could only devote so much to the coverage of A.J. Brown.

Remove Henry from the equation and that’s very likely to change.

The Rams and other upcoming opponents probably look at Tennessee, say who don’t we want to get beat by, point at Brown and plan for ways to stop him first.A.J. Brown

Donald Page/ Tennessee Titans

And so there are more double teams to come.

At Sofi Stadium the Rams could merely put Jalen Ramsey, on of the NFL’s premium cornerbacks on him.

Julio Jones appears in line to return from two games out with a hamstring issue, and he should be the next-most dangerous player, with the committee in the backfield running against a standard, not stacked, front.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans are a resilient team that has proven capable of overcoming a lot.

But sustaining a winning formula without Derrick Henry is a lot different than plugging holes in the secondary when they are without Kristian Fulton and Caleb Farley or mixing and matching the offensive line as players fall out with injuries.

Henry is responsible for 50 percent of the Titans’ offensive yards and 55 percent of their offensive touches.


Minus him, the Titans have a major personnel adjustment to make.

But they also have a major psychological adjustment to make.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In their MetroCenter headquarters, Titans coaches are game-planning Tuesday for Week Nine against the Rams.

It’s just the second time Mike Vrabel and his staff are doing so without having Derrick Henry as part of the plan. The team held Henry out of a Week 16 game against New Orleans in 2019 with a hamstring injury.

This time it’s not a one-off but the beginning of a long stretch without the NFL’s best back, who was scheduled for surgery on his right foot Tuesday morning.Derrick Henry

Pool photo/ Donald Page, Tennessee Titans

“We will have to block better, we will have to throw better, we will have to call better games and not just one person,” Vrabel said. “We need everybody. We are going to need everybody in all three phases.”

A look at some of the big considerations as life without Henry begins…

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