Scouting review: Don't blame Nick Westbrook-Ikhine as you look at Titans' loss to Steelers

BY BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Steelers' defense and the Titans' defense were the strengths for each of their teams and each putting up a winning effort.

Unfortunately for the Titans, their four turnovers were their undoing after having what looked like a commanding 13-3 lead at halftime and a time of possession that ended almost doubling up Pittsburgh.

The Titans had the ball 39:08 to the Steelers 20:52.
Ryan Tannehill

© George Walker IV / / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Titans had 22 first downs to the Steelers 12

The Titans had 318 total yards on offense to the Steelers 168.

The Titans had five fumbles and lost three to go with one interception and there was another pass that should have been caught by Steeler linebacker Devin Bush. That mistake resulted in a touchdown drive for Tennessee.

Turnovers and lack of protection for Ryan Tannehill is a problem that isn’t getting fixed.

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Titans play giveaway game again, lose again

PITTSBURGH – For the third time in four games the Titans did their best to be the league’s top philanthropic team.

They gave the ball to the Texans four times on Nov. 21 and handed it to the Patriots five times on Nov. 28.

Ryan Tannehill

© Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday, they presented it to the Steelers four times, washing away a great number of other statistical advantages and the No. 1 AFC seed they could have held with a win. They slinked out of town with a 19-13 loss that dropped them to 9-5 and closed their lead on the Colts to one game in the standing plus a head-to-head tie-breaker.

They host the 49ers Thursday night, and if they can’t get ball security down as they did in their one recent reprieve against the Jaguars when they had four takeaways and no giveaways, they will continue to struggle.

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PK121921PITTSBURGH -- Oh what fun we had unraveling that beautiful 19-13 Titans' loss, another game they simply handed away.

The conversation from the Heinz Field press box covered the turnovers, the lack of offense, the defensive response, the narrowed lead in the AFC South, the quick turnaround to Thursday's game against the 49ers and everything else that was top of mind.

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Scouting preview: Titans have to take advantage of Big Ben's minimal movement

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans need to continue the winning trend against the Pittsburgh Steelers who are fighting for their playoffs hopes.

The Steelers are only two games back in the win column from the lead in the AFC North. With a loss, they will be done.

The Steelers are a talented but flawed team.Dontrell Hilliard

Dontrell Hilliard/ pool photo, Donald Page, Tennessee Titans

The flaws start with a former strength in veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

I mentioned last season that Ben Roethlisberger was done, and the Steelers should be looking for his replacement because former second-round pick Mason Rudolph is not the answer moving forward.

Roethlisberger is a statue in the pocket and must utilize a short passing game to be effective because of several factors.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans run block well and pass protect poorly. And while it’s a full offense thing, the spine of it is certainly the offensive line.Taylor Lewan

Pool photo/ Donald Page, Tennessee Titans

The ability to sustain the run-blocking effort without the starting line intact for five of the team’s 13 games is impressive. The inability to reliably keep Ryan Tannehill on his feet and allow him some chances to let plays develop is unimpressive.

As with virtually every big question attached to the Titans, injuries are at the heart of it.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Ryan Tannehill is strong-willed and tough and the things he is facing can be part of the deal.

But when a quarterback is getting hit and sacked at the rate Tannehill is, his clock gets sped up and, on some level, psychologically, things have to change.Ryan Tannehill

Pool photo/ Donald Page, Tennessee Titans 

Tannehill’s been lacking his No. 1 receiver in A.J. Brown, which really affects the passing game and as he sorts things out his pass protection has been inconsistent.

The quarterback has been sacked 37 times, which is on pace for 48 in the first 17 game season. That would be the second-most of his career to 2013. In his second season in Miami when he was sacked 58 times.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans are an unthreatening offense that can string together an occasional good drive or take advantage of field position but can’t find big plays.

It’s the team’s drive to play complementary football, the offense is very much the little brother to the defense. And that’s not the way it was drawn up.Harold Landry and Jeffery Simmons

Pool photo/ Donald Page, Tennessee Titans

The team was designed around Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown, with a bonus helping of Julio Jones.

Seven players have cap hits north of $4 million, and five of them are on offense. Some of that is where players are in terms of age and contract life, but it still says something about the emphasis of the roster construction.

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Scouting review: How the Titans got their sacks and got sacked

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans did exactly what they needed to do versus the Jaguars.

They tried to establish the run ending with a team total of 102 yards, they attacked the middle of the field with tight ends Geoff Swaim and Anthony Firkser and they utilized the short passes to get the ball out of the hand of the QB.

Julio Jones was a focus early and ended the game with four receptions for 33 yards.


Naquan Jones/ pool photo, Donald Page, Tennessee Titans

Jones, as I mentioned in the preview, will need to adjust his game to a possession receiver who will win versus tight coverage because he will struggle to separate with speed or acceleration out of his breaks like he used to.

Why teams aren’t playing more press-man or bump coverage against Jones and forcing him to work hard versus a tight release I am not sure. Jones can’t run by any corner anymore and it would force him to work hard to release off press and change the quarterbacks’ eyes away from a perceived covered option.

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