NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books, and it was a successful one for the Tennessee Titans.
On Sunday, the Titans travel to Cleveland to face the Browns in Week 2.
A look at five things to watch:
Yes, the kid did OK in his NFL debut – to say the least. Titans rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota has been the talk of the NFL this week after throwing for four touchdowns while posting a perfect passer rating against the Buccaneers. He was named the Offensive Player of the Week, and landed on a Sports Illustrated cover — again. All eyes will be on Mariota this Sunday in Cleveland to see if he can match that performance. Mariota will face a different challenge this week with the Browns, who will show him multiple looks and try and keep him guessing. Mariota passed his first test, but this week should be tougher. Only four rookie quarterbacks since 1970 have won their first two starts to begin a season.
Running back Terrance West has downplayed how much facing his former team will mean to him on Sunday. Earlier this month, the Browns traded West to the Titans for a seventh-round pick, and since West has read stories about how he was viewed as immature and inconsistent in his one year in Cleveland. You can be sure West will be fired up and ready to run through a wall in Cleveland. West picked up 41 yards on 13 carries in the season opener against the Buccaneers, before he was comfortable in a new offense. He'll be better prepared, and extra motivated, on Sunday. Can he make an even bigger difference alongside running back Bishop Sankey?
Tight end plan**
Veteran Delanie Walker led the Titans in catches and receiving yards last season, and he got off to a nice start on Sunday in Tampa Bay when he caught three passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. Walker missed two days of practice with a hand injury, but returned on Friday. He's hopeful of playing on Sunday. If Walker can't go, however, it's next man up for the Titans. Fortunately, after keeping five tight ends on the 53-man roster out of camp, the Titans have solid options. Chase Coffman was inactive in Week 1, but he figures to be in the mix this week if Walker can't go. Craig Stevens, Anthony Fasano and Phillip Supernaw should also make an impact.
Linebacker Derrick Morgan had two sacks in the opener, and it was part of a four-sack day by the Titans. No matter who's behind center in Cleveland – Josh McCown or Johnny Manziel – the Titans need to keep the pressure going on defense. A year ago, the Titans also tallied four quarterback sacks in a season opening win in Kansas City. They put up four sacks the following week as well. Then the Titans went back-to-back weeks without a sack, and the defense tallied one sack total from weeks 3-5. The Titans need to be consistent getting to the QB. Is this the week linebacker Brian Orakpo gets his first sack as a Titan?
Weather the storm**
The Titans took the pressure off themselves early at Tampa Bay by jumping out to a 21-0 first quarter lead, and they never looked back. On offense, the Titans kept the foot on the gas, and on defense played with swagger with the lead. But let's face it – things are rarely that easy in the NFL. It's Cleveland's home opener, and the Browns are coming off a 31-10 loss to the Jets in the season opener. All week, players have heard about how bad they looked, and how good the Titans and Mariota looked. The Titans will need to play with poise early, and be ready to absorb Cleveland's punches. The Browns will undoubtedly be foaming at the mouth while playing in front of the Dawg Pound.