It wasn’t pretty, but the Tennessee Titans escaped from Denver with a narrow 16-14 victory late Monday night. The Titans were able to move the ball downfield, but the offense looked out of sync most of the night. Rust was to be expected with an abbreviated training camp and no preseason games, and that was apparent early and often. Let’s take a look at some key points following Monday night’s Tennessee Titans-Denver Broncos matchup.
Week 1: Tennessee Titans-Denver Broncos
First, and certainly foremost, the Titans absolutely need to get a hold of their kicking struggles. The Titans’ kicking was a mess in 2019. Ryan Succop, Cairo Santos, Cody Parkey, Ryan Santoso, and Greg Joseph posted a combined 44 percent field goal success rate last season. None of those kickers are still on the roster. Instead, the Titans turned to ex-Patriot Stephen Gostkowski, a former teammate of head coach Mike Vrabel. That decision is off to a shaky start as Gostkowski went 0/3 on field goals (one blocked) and 0/1 on extra points through the first three and half quarters of Monday night’s game. With 17 seconds left in the game, trailing by one point, the Titans called on Gostkowski one last time for redemption. He delivered, giving the Titans the 16-14 lead that would turn out to be the winning score. Gostkowski may not be a Titan by next weekend, but if so, his performance has to improve.
In a game where the team looked sluggish overall, there were players that stood out. Wide receiver Corey Davis had himself a “remember me?” kind of game. The former fifth overall pick in 2017 had seven receptions for 101 yards on eight targets. The last time Davis eclipsed 100 yards, was Week 11 in 2018. If Davis continues to elevate his game, the pairing of A.J. Brown and himself has the potential to be a top wide receiver in the league. On the defensive side of the ball, second-year defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons was a brick wall at the line of scrimmage. He was disruptive up front causing Denver’s young, inexperienced offensive line all sorts of problems. Simmons finished with four tackles, including a crucial goal-line stuff on fourth down in the first half. He also recovered a Melvin Gordon fumble which lead to the Titans’ first touchdown of the season. Lastly, what about the highly touted newcomer Jadeveon Clowney? He looked solid in his first game in a Titans uniform. Explosive off the ball, he flashed a lot, just missing big plays. He finished with two tackles including one tackle for loss. Clowney said after the game while he thought he played well, he expects to play even better as the season progresses.
Following the loss, Broncos head coach Vic Fangio’s fourth-quarter clock management should be questioned. With four minutes left, the Broncos took over on the Titans 44-yard line, leading by one point. The Broncos offense gained only two yards and burned only one minute off the clock on two Drew Lock incomplete passes and one Melvin Gordon rushing attempt. The Titans quickly drove down the field getting to within the Denver 30 yard line with still over 1:30 minutes left in the game. At this point, Coach Vrabel was content to hand the ball off to his big back, Henry, and kill time. With all three timeouts remaining, Fangio chose not to call any, allowing the Titans to run the clock all the way down to 20 seconds left. After Gostkowski’s field goal, the Broncos were left with 17 seconds, leaving only enough time for three plays.
Week 2: Jaguars at Titans
The Titans will look to shake off the rust for their week two home opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. With both teams winning their week 1 matchups and losses by both the Colts and Texans, solo first place in the AFC South is at stake in this early season divisional matchup.