NASHVILLE – The Titans beat the Jaguars 20-0 on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
Here's a look at six things that stood out from the contest:
By winning on Sunday, the Titans assured themselves a sixth straight winning season. In the process, Titans General Manager Jon Robinson became the only GM in franchise history to oversee six straight winning seasons, breaking the record of five winning seasons established by Bum Phillips in the late 1970s that was later matched by Mike Holovak (1989-1993). Also, Titans HC Mike Vrabel became the only HC in franchise history other than Jack Pardee (1990-93) to begin his tenure with at least four consecutive winning seasons. Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan, who joined the franchise in 2014, spoke about the culture change after the game. "To be able to help change the culture of this team, along with Jon Robinson, along with Vrabel, along with the guys they brought in," Lewan said. "Guys like Jeffery Simmons, Kevin Byard, Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, A.J. (Brown). We've had so many guys that have come with an attitude to help change the culture of this team, and I'm just really appreciative to be part of that."
Rashaan Evans got one. Then came Jayon Brown's pick. Cornerback Kristian Fulton and Buster Skrine later recorded interceptions, giving the Titans four for the day. It was a welcome sight for a defense that didn't record an interception in the previous three games. The Titans played like there was blood in the water when Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence looked for receivers, and the defense had a blast in the process. "Man, we had so much fun out there today," Byard said. "I mean, would I have liked to join the interception party? Absolutely. … I felt like guys were flying around."
It wasn't just the interceptions that stood out on Sunday. From Jacksonville's opening offensive possession, when the Titans sacked Lawrence twice, the defense was dominant while recording the franchise's first shutout since the 2018 season – and the first one at Nissan Stadium since the final game of the 2000 season. Defensive lineman Denico Autry and outside linebacker Harold Landry were each credited with a sack early, and linebacker Derick Roberson had a sack for a 20-yard loss late. The Titans were credited with six quarterback hits, and five tackles for a loss. "We were on the sidelines saying, 'Let's keep it,'" Simmons said of the shutout. "At halftime we were gunning for it. We were like, 'Let's get this shutout.' Congrats to Shane (Bowen), this is his first shutout as a D-coordinator, props to him."
On this day, I could probably do all six on the defense, because it was such an impressive performance. The run defense deserves its own category, too, even if the Jaguars only ran it eight times in the game. That's because the stat sheet looks crazy here. On the day, the Jaguars finished with eight rushing yards on eight attempts. The yardage total tied for the third-fewest rushing yards in any game against the Titans/Oilers. It was the lowest total in the Titans era. Jaguars running back James Robinson had 6 carries for 4 yards, running back Carlos Hyde had 1 carry for 2 yards, and Lawrence had 1 carry for 2 yards. Jacksonville's longest run on the day: 5 yards. Evans led the Titans with six tackles, and one of them was for a loss of four. Byard and defensive back Elijah Molden finished with five tackles each. "As a defense, as a whole, we want to try to be the best in the nation or in the world if we can," Evans said. "For us to be able to go out there and individually do our job and do all the things we need to do, you saw what happened."
Offense Was Good Enough
The Titans won't make SportsCenter's Top 10 for the display on offense on Sunday. The reality is the performance wasn't flashy, but it was plenty enough to get the job done. The Titans put together offensive drives of 10 plays (for 59 yards), 11 plays (for 54 yards) and 15 plays (for 57 yards) to score 17 of their 20 points. Sure, there were some dud drives, including a pair of 3 and outs and another four-play drive that netted just nine yards. But the Titans controlled the football for 36:57 of the game's 60 minutes while racking up 22 first downs. "We took care of the ball today which I think was a big step in the right direction considering how a couple weeks before that had went," said Tannehill, referring to the team's nine turnovers in losses to the Texans and Patriots. "We'll have to keep doing that and then clean up where we have things to clean up, take advantage of some opportunities in the pass game, scoring when we get drives going, finishing with points every drive, and then, yeah, the defense can keep playing like that, we'll be in good shape."
Julio and Company
The Titans got Julio Jones back, and that was a start. "Just coming out of this game feeling the way I feel, I feel great," Jones said. "I didn't have any setbacks. I didn't feel it throughout the game or anything like that. Just building days and building games, so I'm very excited. Moving forward for myself, I'm good. I feel great. No tweaks. No nothing. I'm solid. I'm ready to go." And while the decorated receiver didn't put up huge numbers (4 catches for 33 yards), he did make a difference. The same can be said for tight ends Anthony Firkser (4 catches for 34 yards), who had some clutch third down catches (yes, he had a drop), and Geoff Swaim, who caught three balls for a team-best 45 yards, including a 24-yard catch on a screen. Yes, I saw Swaim let the ball go off his hands in the end zone, too. The point here is the Titans made some plays on offense to keep the chains moving, allowing them to eventually get points on the scoreboard. There's no doubt this offense misses receiver A.J. Brown, and the hope is he'll help create more explosive plays when he does return.