NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans have just three games under their belts heading into the bye, so it's impossible to get a great feel for what this 2015 team is all about.
But let's take a quick look at three things that have gone right so far, along with three things that need to improve over the final 13 games.
What's gone right?
The rookie quarterback has exceeded everyone's expectations out of the gate. Sure, coaches and teammates saw enough to be impressed during the offseason and in the preseason, but Mariota has delivered like a veteran in games. Mariota has thrown eight touchdown passes vs. only two interceptions so far. He's making good decisions. And he should only continue to get better.
Mariota has led the way, but the entire offense has been far superior out of the gate compared to last season. Receiver Kendall Wright is on track for a 1,136-yard season, the running game is 10th in the NFL using a number of backs. The Titans are sixth in the NFL in first downs per game. And, the Titans are fun to watch when they have the ball.
It's a bad idea to fall behind in games, and deficits like 21-0 (to Cleveland) and 14-0 (to Indianapolis) ended up costing the Titans in their two losses. But the Titans have shown no quit so far. They rallied in Cleveland only to stumble in the end, and they fought back only to blow a lead themselves against the Colts.
What needs to improve?
Too many sacks**
If Mariota's going to survive the season, he can't continue to take a beating like he has so far. Mariota's been sacked 12 times in three games, and he's been hit a bunch more. He's on track to be sacked 64 times in 16 games. The Titans can't afford to let that happen.
The Titans began the season on fire, outscoring the Buccaneers 21-0 in the first 15 minutes of the season. The Titans have been outscored 21-0 in the first quarter since. They've dropped passes, and made too many mistakes at the start of games. Playing catch up isn't the way to go.
Allowing big plays
Indianapolis converted two 3rd-and-20 plays against the Titans, and the second one was a killer – an Andrew Luck touchdown pass got the Colts back in the game. Against the Browns, the Titans gave up a pair of long ball from quarterback Johnny Manziel. The defense needs to clean things up on the back end. Getting Jason McCourty back should help.