Glennon's Take: Five Key Questions for Titans vs. Browns


NASHVILLE Tenn. — Having put an end to one streak on Monday night, the Titans will look to continue another on Sunday.

Fresh from beating Indianapolis for the first time in the teams' last 12 meetings, the Titans head to Cleveland, hoping to keep the Browns from earning their first victory of the season.

Here are five key questions for the Titans as they seek to move back over .500 nearing the midpoint of the season:


Will the running-back rotation remain similar going forward? **— The ratio of carries won't necessarily look the same as Monday, when Derrick Henry rushed 19 times and DeMarco Murray rushed for 12. But neither will the Titans slide back toward Week 5 against Miami, when Murray was on the field for 49 snaps and Henry just 11.

In other words, I think the Titans have made a conscious effort to get Henry more involved in the offense than in the past, even if he's still not considered the starter. A move toward more of a 50-50 split between the backs seems to make sense. Henry appears to wear down opposing defenses late in games as his carries increase, and the more he plays, the less the strain on Murray's nagging hamstring injury.


Are the Titans developing more of a downfield passing attack? **— There were some promising signs in this department against Indianapolis.

The Titans began the game having produced only four passes over 25 yards in the team's first five games combined. But Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota posted three pass plays over 25 yards against the Colts – a 53-yard touchdown bomb to Taywan Taylor, as well as 27-yard completions to Eric Decker and Rishard Matthews.

In addition, Mariota averaged 9.6 yards per attempt against the Colts, which is a big jump from the team's season average of 6.8 yards per attempt.

Third, Decker, who'd been averaging 8.6 yards per reception through five games, caught a season-best seven passes for 12.6 yards per catch against the Colts.

Take those numbers with a grain of salt because Indianapolis has the NFL's 30th-ranked pass defense. Still, if the Titans can consistently make teams worry about downfield threats, then the team's running attack will face fewer logjams.


** Why haven't the Titans recorded more sacks? –This is surely a question that is puzzling head coach Mike Mularkey and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, especially given the emphasis Mularkey places on sacks. He ranks them just behind turnovers when it comes to determining the outcome of games.
Through six games, the Titans have totaled eight sacks, which ranks 30th in the league. It's a far cry from last year, when the Titans piled up 40 sacks during the season, good for sixth overall. Linebacker Brian Orakpo, who led the team with 10.5 sacks last season, has one so far this year.

The Titans played a couple of highly elusive quarterbacks in Seattle's Russell Wilson and Houston's Deshaun Watson, which could be part of the problem. But the Titans were only able to produce a combined one sack against Miami's Jay Cutler and Indy's Jacoby Brissett, two less elusive targets.
It should be noted the Titans are pressuring opposing quarterbacks, even if the sacks aren't coming yet.
Through six weeks this year, the Titans have produced 81 quarterback pressures with the eight sacks. In the first six games of 2016, they'd recorded 73 pressures and 18 sacks.

The Titans played a couple of highly elusive quarterbacks in Seattle's Russell Wilson and Houston's Deshaun Watson, which could be part of the problem. But the Titans were only able to produce a combined one sack against Miami's Jay Cutler and Indy's Jacoby Brissett, two less elusive targets.

What are the Browns doing well? – Cleveland (0-6) is one of two winless teams left in the NFL, along with San Francisco. The Browns have only scored as many as 20 points once in six games, and the team's top two quarterbacks – DeShone Kizer and Kevin Hogan – have combined for seven touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

But former Titans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams does have the Browns' defense playing relatively well. The Browns are the eighth-best team in the league against the run, allowing just 84.3 yards per game, which should pose a challenge for the Titans' rushing attack. In addition, former Titans cornerback Jason McCourty is off to an excellent start for the Browns. He has three interceptions (tied for second-best in the league), a total that includes a 56-yard return for touchdown last week. McCourty has also forced a pair of fumbles.


What are the Titans kickers eating? –** I can't answer this question definitively, but whatever it is should be shared, since both punter Brett Kern and place-kicker Ryan Succop are both having outstanding seasons.

Kern is averaging 51.5 yards per punt, the second-best figure in the NFL and an improvement of better than seven yards over last year's average. He was only called on once against Indy, but came through with an unreturnable punt that pinned the Colts at their 16-yard line.

Succop has made 16-of-17 field-goal attempts this season, the only miss coming from 52 yards against Oakland. His five-for-five performance against Indianapolis helped him set an NFL record of 47 consecutive field goals made under 50 yards – and they earned him the AFC's special teams player of the week award as well. Succop's 62 points are second-best in the NFL.

-- Reach John Glennon at and follow him on Twitter @glennonsports.

The Tennessee Titans take on the Indianapolis Colts in Week 6 action on Monday Night Football at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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