The Tennessee Titans put in a dominant performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday Night Football to cruise to a 36-22 victory in Nashville, putting them at 4-4 for the season and within touching distance of first place in the AFC South. James Long reports…
1. Marcus Mariota and the Titans Offensive line
A hugely impressive performance by Marcus Mariota under center set the tone with 18 of 22 passes completed for 270 yards and two touchdowns. Early season concerns of Mariota’s failure to see the easy throws and development under head coach Mike Mularkey have disappeared with him being the first Titans quarterback since 2010 to throw multiple touchdowns in four consecutive games.
The Titans led 27-0 at half time and had clocked up 354 yards on offense in that period which is the most by an NFL team this season. After early season hamstring issues, Kendall Wright was a key weapon for Mariota last night and became a real playmaker in the second quarter.
Titans General Manger Jon Robinson deserves huge credit for the improvements seen to the Offensive Line this season. Many Titans fans eyebrows were raised when Jack Conklin was selected 8th in this year’s draft but the walk on at Michigan State has proven to be a formidable player and is a key reason as to why the Titans are now level with the Dallas Cowboys as having the most effective offensive line in the NFL.
2. Exotic Smashmouth football is alive and well in Tennessee
The Titans showcased their dominant ground attack against a poor Jaguars defence with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry clocking up a combined 225 yards and two touchdowns. Murray was at his very best last night and in just 8 games he has racked up 160 carries for 756 yards with 6 touchdowns. He was able to bully the Jaguars defence time and time again who had no answer for his strength and speed.
Henry also saw some solid game time last night and put up 60 yards and scored his first touchdown in the NFL.
3. Blake Bortles, King of Garbage Time
If you review the stats from last night, Blake Bortles threw for an extremely impressive 300+ yards last night but what we can’t forget is that the majority of the throws were deep in the fourth quarter when the game was already lost.
There is no getting away from the fact that Bortles has been a serious disappointment for Jacksonville this season. After setting numerous franchise records last season he has not been able to rediscover any semblance of his form from last year and Coach Gus Bradley has a serious decision to make as to whether to bench his QB in order for him to restore his confidence.
After all the preseason hype coming from Jacksonville the fans must be bitterly disappointed to slip to 2-5. Although Shad Khan has been one of the more patient owners in the NFL, Coach Bradley was under huge pressure to deliver this season and with a current record of 14-41 as Head Coach you do wonder how long he has left in Jacksonville.
The Extra Point
Most Titans fans would have ripped your arm off for a 4-4 at this stage of the season. However, Tennessee cannot misjudge victories against poor teams. There is still a lot of work to do and games coming up against San Diego Chargers, Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts will go a long way to assessing how good this team can be. One thing is for sure, for the first time in a long time this team is heading in the right direction.
A Game Ball For….
DeMarco Murray – His 4th 100+ yard rushing game and at this rate he is on target for 1,900 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns this season. The misery of last year in Philadelphia seems a long way away.