NASHVILLE – The Titans face the Jaguars on Sunday in Jacksonville.
Here's a look at six things to watch:
No one needs a reminder about what happened against the Browns, but here it is – the Titans fell down 17-0 at the start, and 38-7 by halftime. It was too much of a deficit to overcome, and the Titans took the L. Slow starts have been an issue for the Titans in several games this season, but the Titans can't afford to let it happen on Sunday. Because the last thing the Titans need to do is let a 1-11 Jaguars team get some early confidence, and swagger. No one also needs a reminder about what happened the last time the Titans traveled to Jacksonville for a December game. I won't say anything further here…
Ride King Henry
Running back Derrick Henry has been a workhorse for the Titans all season. In 12 games, Henry has 1,317 yards and 12 touchdowns, an average of 109.8 yards and 1 TD per game. The Titans need to work him from the get-go against the Jaguars, something the team wasn't able to do after falling behind last week. Henry has been a beast on the road, with eight straight 100-yard games, which is tied for the second longest streak in NFL history. The Jaguars are 30th in the NFL in run defense, allowing 136.9 yards per game. The recipe is there for Henry to have another big game just down the road from his hometown of Yulee, Florida.
The Jaguars have a pretty stout running game themselves, led by rookie running back James Robinson. The Titans, of course, should remember him well. Robinson ran for 102 yards and a touchdown in the first meeting in Week 2, and it was a sign of things to come. Robinson has 968 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He has seven games with 100-plus scrimmage yards, and he has 90-plus scrimmage yards in five of six home games this season. The Titans did a decent job vs the run against the NFL's No.1 ranked rushing offense last time out, but they've had some issues stopping the run this season.
Tannehill and his Targets
Defenses regularly focus on Henry, which gives Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill a chance to air it out. And Tannehill, who has 2,997 passing yards with 26 touchdowns and only five interceptions, has regularly come through during his days in Tennessee. Tannehill, in fact, threw four touchdown passes in the Week 2 meeting against the Jaguars on a day when Adam Humphries led the Titans in receptions. Humphries isn't available this Sunday after being placed on Injured Reserve. The Titans have loved what they've seen from receiver Corey Davis, who has four 100-yard games. A.J. Brown, who didn't play in the first meeting, hopes to reintroduce himself to the Jaguars. And it will be nice to get tight end Jonnu Smith back.
When the Titans last faced the Jaguars, they faced quarterback Gardner Minshew. And let's just say Minshew had a pretty good amount of success, throwing for 339 yards and three touchdowns while facing little pressure. Well, Mike Glennon is Jacksonville's quarterback now. He's not as elusive as Minshew, and a bigger target. But the Titans have to find a way to get there. One of the biggest keys for the Titans in this one will be to force the Jaguars into third-and-long situations, and then finding a way to put some pressure on Glennon, which could lead to turnovers …
Yes, part of Tennessee's success this season has come as a result of the team's work in the takeaway/giveaway department. The Titans are a plus-9, with 17 takeaways vs. only eight giveaways. The Jaguars, meanwhile, are 1-11 in part because of their failures here. Jacksonville has turned the ball over 20 times, which has led to a minus-7. Glennon, in fact, threw two interceptions while also losing a fumble this past Sunday against the Vikings. The Titans were sloppy themselves last week, with two fumbles and an interception. This on top of some regrettable penalties. The Titans can't afford to make life easier for a Jaguars team looking for some type of momentum.