Titans seek rebound, and to keep Jaguars reeling
On paper, it looks like the Tennessee Titans have the ideal foil for a bounce-back performance in Week 14.
Needing a win to maintain its share of first place in the AFC South with Indianapolis, Tennessee (8-4) gets a trip to division rival Jacksonville.
At 1-11, the Jaguars would be on the clock for next spring’s NFL draft were it not for the pristine incompetence of the winless New York Jets.
But Titans coach Mike Vrabel invokes coach-speak when discussing Jacksonville, even though it’s on an 11-game losing streak since upsetting the Colts in Week 1.
After all, the Jaguars came within a late interception of perhaps beating Tennessee in Week 2, and have suffered five other one-possession losses.
“It’s the same challenge that it is every week — it’s a new opponent,” Vrabel said. “They’ll probably look a little different than the last time we played them. I know it sounds like a broken record, but if you don’t play good in this league, you’re going to lose.”
Which the Titans did last week, and decisively. The 41-35 final score in a loss to Cleveland was actually very flattering for Tennessee. The Browns led 38-7 at halftime, and only two touchdowns in the last 90 seconds made the final margin respectable.
A defense that showed signs of improvement in road wins over Baltimore and Indianapolis regressed badly. Cleveland scored on all six first-half possessions as Baker Mayfield made the Titans look like one of the Big 12 defenses he used to abuse at Oklahoma.
Offensively, Tennessee couldn’t establish NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry for two reasons — the large margin on the scoreboard and its inability to win the line of scrimmage.
Henry was limited to 60 yards on 15 carries, and was stuffed on a key fourth-and-1 early in the game that helped momentum turn.
The Titans even showed a lack of discipline, something that has become rare under Vrabel. They were hit with three 15-yard penalties, and defensive lineman Teair Tart drew a one-game suspension for stomping on Browns offensive lineman Wyatt Teller.
“At the end of the day, we can’t do dumb stuff that hurts the team,” Vrabel said.
The main story line in Jacksonville is coach Doug Marrone’s decision to stick with veteran Mike Glennon for a third straight game at quarterback. Even though Gardner Minshew (thumb) is active and begged Marrone to put him in the lineup prior to a 27-25 loss to Cleveland two weeks ago, Marrone stuck with Glennon.
And Glennon hasn’t given the embattled coach a reason to consider a change. Glennon has completed 62.3 percent of his passes the last two games, although he did toss two interceptions in last week’s 27-24 overtime defeat in Minnesota.
“I still think that even though we lost the game and had some plays, there were still a lot of really good throws out there,” Glennon said. “There’s always going to be stuff to build on, but I feel confident in myself in both games.”
Rookie running back James Robinson, whose 968 yards ranks him third in the NFL behind Henry and Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook, was limited in practice Wednesday with a knee injury. But Marrone believes that Robinson, a free agent signing who represents one of the league’s best bargains this year, will be able to play on Sunday.
–Field Level Media