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The Worst And Best Titans From The Saints' Loss, Starting With Ryan Tannehill And Arden Key

The Worst And Best Titans From The Saints' Loss, Starting With Ryan Tannehill And Arden Key

Chig Okonkwo open
   Ryan Tannehill missed a wide open Chig Okonkwo

By MIKE HERNDON, columnist

In a lot of ways, the Titans' opener in New Orleans felt awfully familiar. A stout run defense and active pass rush kept Mike Vrabel’s team in the game despite a woeful offensive showing, a leaky secondary, and some head-scratching coaching decisions.

In other ways, it felt remarkably different. Tennessee went 0-for-3 in the red zone, usually one of the few reliable areas of strength for the offense, and was kept in the game, in part, by a reliable kicker.

In the end, the Titans fell short, dropping their opener 16-15 to the Alvin Kamara-less Saints, which unfortunately looked to be one of the better opportunities to scratch out a win during the very tough first six weeks of the 2023 season. Tennessee will host the Chargers this week before dates with the Browns, Bengals, Colts, and Ravens before the bye.

Things ease up considerably down the stretch, so simply surviving the first month and a half at 2-4 or 3-3 would do and that kind of result is still certainly attainable, though there are absolutely some things that must be cleaned up beforehand.

The Worst: Ryan Tannehill

We’ll start with the worst from Titans-Saints and that absolutely must start with Ryan Tannehill. The veteran quarterback not only

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Titans Need NFL To Figure Out QB Incompletion-Fumble Calls

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The NFL has created a version of football where it can be hard to know what a catch is.

And now it’s got a fumble-or-incompletion issue.

Derek Carr
   Arden Key jarred this ball free from Derek Carr, but it was ruled an incomplete pass/ CBS

The Titans’ season ended last year when safety Rayshawn Jenkins stripped Josh Dobbs as he threw and linebacker Josh Allen returned it 37 yards for a touchdown with 2:51 left in a 20-16 Jaguars win that clinched the AFC South title. It could have been ruled an incomplete pass

Then Sunday in New Orleans in a very similar play, Arden Key hit the back of Derek Carr’s hand as he prepared to throw. His hand pushed the ball forward and it was ruled an incomplete pass. Kevin Byard scooped it up but his return was stopped by a whistle and the incomplete call was not changed to a fumble on a review initiated by Mike Vrabel.

The two plays look very similar. [Unlocked]

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Scout's Take: Minimizing Derrick Henry Failed The Titans in New Orleans

Scout's Take: Minimizing Derrick Henry Failed The Titans in New Orleans

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans are a veteran team with Ryan Tannehill, DeAndre Hopkins, Kevin Byard, Denico Autry, and Jeffrey Simmons standing out front, but the best veteran and most productive over his Titans' career, Derrick Henry, was off the field and on the sidelines for over half of the offensive snaps.

Sep 10, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) and running back Tyjae Spears (32) and running back Julius Chestnut (36) sit on the bench against the New Orleans Saints during the second half at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
   Derrick Henry between Julius Chestnut and Tyjae Spears/ © Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The identity of a Mike Vrabel team has been to play tough defense and tackle well, play ball-control offense and win both lines of scrimmage while controlling time of possession.

Without Henry, the team lost its identity in Week One.

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Ryan Tannehill Crushes Titans' Chances In Loss to Saints

Ryan Tannehill Crushes Titans' Chances In Loss to Saints

NEW ORLEANS – To say Sunday was a playoff-caliber performance from Ryan Tannehill is to under-appreciate his three-interception divisional playoff game performance against the Bengals on Jan. 22, 2022 and the 165-yard dud in the Titans’ loss to Baltimore that ended their 2020 season.

Sep 10, 2023; New Orleans, LA, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) is helped up after being sacked in the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Nelles-USA TODAY Sports
  Ryan Tannehill gets a hand from Andre Diullard/ © Andrew Nelles-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee’s starting quarterback was a different level of awful Sunday against the Saints.

Poor decisions were everywhere, and while there was too much pressure around him he seemed to help create it for himself at times. Quarterbacks of winning teams find ways to make plays around and despite encroaching defenders, but Tannehill seemed flustered by them and unable to regain his regular calm though he said “I didn’t feel off.”

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PK TV: We reviewed Saints 16, Titans 15

Paul KuhasrskyNEW ORLEANS -- When's the last time we came away from a Titans game wondering if they should have used Derrick Henry more?

Sunday's 16-15 loss to the Saints qualifies as such a game. He had five second-half carries for 12 yards. But more carries would have meant fewer chances for Ryan Tannehill interceptions, right?

Tannehill was a crusher in this terrible loss, one of the ugliest game in memory for a team that has no lack of a list. 

He threw three picks, two that they can say pressure factored into. But his decision-making was poor all game as he also missed two wide-open touchdowns that could have taken all the tension out of the game. The Titans could have had a plane ride back to Nashville with a 1-0 record.

They came home 0-1 and with some major questions. That revamped offense is the biggie and we discussed every angle of the game from the Superdome Sunday evening. Please rewatch it at the private Facebook page or on YouTube below.

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Is This The End Of Ryan Tannehill And Derrick Henry As Titans?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – This could be it.

As a pair, Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry have been the core of the Titans’ offense since the sixth game of the 2019 season, a stretch during which the Titans have posted a 37-23 regular season record (.612), won the division twice, gone to the playoffs three times and played in the AFC Championship Game once.

Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry
Ryan Tannehill piches to Derrick Henry

Sunday in New Orleans, they each begin their final season under contract with a franchise that has positioned itself with potential replacements. The Titans have drafted quarterbacks in successive years, trading up to take Malik Willis in the third round in 2022 and Will Levis in the second round in 2023 and they chose versatile running back Tyjae Spears in the third round this spring as well. [Unlocked]

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Tennessee Titans vs. New Orleans Saints: NFL Week One Showdown Analysis

Tennessee Titans vs. New Orleans Saints: NFL Week One Showdown Analysis

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Week One is for optimism and hope. Sixteen organizations get to call themselves undefeated and feel good about their futures going into Week Two. The other 16 raise questions and doubt and find someone to blame for the loss and no longer having the chance to go 17-0.   

But opening day is really about finding out what team you are going to have throughout the next five months of football.

Jeffery Simmons
   Jeffery Simmons/ Angie Flatt

The reason no one truly knows anymore is that offseasons are cut short. Very few starters play in pre-season games so the evaluations are left to practice, past years' performances and the belief that some players have developed over the offseason.   

The Titans and Saints have those same hopes and optimistic outlooks heading into Sunday at noon.  

The Titans catch a break with the Saints' most dynamic offensive player, running back Alvin Kamara, starting a three-game suspension.

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The Paul Kuharsky Podcast: Titans' Mystery Offense, Reserve QBs And Money Matters

The Paul Kuharsky PodcastNASHVILLE, Tenn. -- New coordinator, new quarterback coach and passing game coordinator, new running back coach, new tight ends coach, new offensive line coach.

It's a new offense for the Titans.

And while we've heard about it and seen some glimpses, the bigger features have been behind curtains that won't be opened until Sunday at noon in New Orleans.

How do the Titans feel about what they are unveiling and how different can it be?

That's where the latest edition of The Paul Kuharsky Podcast begins but we go much deeper than that, of course.

Listen through Apple, Spotify, Google, TuneIn or iHeart or watch on YouTube which is embedded below. Please like and follow on the platform of your choosing.

Other subjects I dive into:

     💥How life changes for Malik Willis and Will Levis with the Titans in regular-season mode.

     💥 The great the Titans did with the salary cap through what could have been an awful offseason.

     💥 Kearis Jackson's training camp turn-around.

     💥 Teair Tart met the conditioning challenge, now can he get pass-rush snaps?

     💥 Winning respect the Tyjae Spears way.

Jasper's is our sponsor, and you should check them out.

This is the front door to PaulKuharsky.com.

If you like what you hear or see here, you'd really love the rest of the site. Come join the fun.

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