NASHVILLE – The Titans face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
Here's a look at six things to watch.
Get Derrick Henry Revved Up
All signs points to this potentially being a big day for Titans running back Derrick Henry. Forget that Henry ran for 238 yards and four touchdowns, including an electrifying 99-yard run, against the Jaguars in a game last December because that was last year. Instead, consider the fact the Jaguars have allowed 470 rushing yards in the past two games this season. Houston's Carlos Hyde ran for 160 yards against the Jaguars in Week 9, and Indy's Jonathan Williams went for 116 the following contest. Henry, who is coming off a 188-yard game against the Chiefs, is up next and the Titans need to ride him against a team that's ranked 32nd in the NFL in yards allowed per carry (5.3).
Slow Down Fournette
The Titans did a solid job against Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette back in Week 3, before Fournette busted off a 69-yard run late in that contest. Take away that carry, however, and Fournette had 14 carries for minus-three yards. Yes, you read that right. Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said is week he regretted not using Fournette more in the team's last game against the Colts, so look for Jacksonville to try and get their big back, who has 854 yards on the season, going. The Titans need to rise up and keep it from happening.
Protect the QB
The first game in Jacksonville was a disaster for the Titans, who lost 20-7. What stood out the most from that contest was the relentless pressure the Jaguars put on the QB. Marcus Mariota was sacked nine times in that contest, including three times by big defensive end Calais Campbell. It was embarrassing. The Titans o-line has changed since then – left tackle Taylor Lewan is back in the saddle, and Nate Davis is at right guard. The Titans need to protect Ryan Tannehill better than they did Mariota.
Of course the Jaguars were able to pin their ears back and come after the QB because they jumped out to a two-touchdown lead in the opening minutes. Slow starts have been an issue for the Titans in several games this season – the team has been shut out in the first half of four games, most recently in a loss at Carolina. They also didn't put a point in the scoreboard in the first half in Jacksonville. The Titans need to get out of the starting gate faster on Sunday and put the pressure on the Jaguars.
The moustached Gardner Minshew was the quarterback for the Jaguars in Week 3, and he picked the Titans apart. Part of the reason? He had plenty of time. While the Jaguars were harassing Mariota, Minshew wasn't sacked once. Well, Nick Foles has reclaimed his role as Jacksonville's starting quarterback, and he has plenty of experience. The Titans need to pressure Foles while also giving him different looks. When Foles has time, he'll be looking for receiver DJ Chark, who leads the AFC with eight touchdown catches.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said the team was looking for a spark when making the change to Tannehill, and sparks have been flying. The Titans are 3-1 since the QB change and Tannehill has played well. In his three home starts so far, Tannehill has posted a rating of 100-plus with at least two touchdown passes. He's also guided game-winning drives in three of his four starts, and shown a lot of toughness running the football. Can Tannehill and the Titans keep the momentum going? With six games left in the regular season and some ground to make up in the AFC South, they'd better.