NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Titans and Raiders both started the season with high playoff hopes, but one of them will start the season 0-3 Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
Both teams have suffered heartbreaking losses and find themselves in an early desperation mode. Injuries are ravaging the Titans once again, who will be playing without Harold Landry, Bud Dupree, Taylor Lewan and Kyle Phillips.
Landry started the season on Injured Reserve with a knee injury; Lewan joined him Saturday after also suffering a season ending knee injury.
Dennis Daley gets his first start for the Titans at left tackle Sunday. The Titans sent a fifth round draft pick to Carolina just before the season to acquire Daley who is already ahead of Dillon Radunz, who was drafted in the second round in 2021.
The Titans are looking for offensive consistency Sunday. They scored on their opening drive in their first two games against the Giants and Bills, however they only have 13 total points after that.
“It is game plan plays right?” said quarterback Ryan Tannehill. “It’s plays that you practice all week just like the rest of the game plan. It is just some plays we like so we call them early, but it really just comes down to execution, being able to execute the play that’s called that comes in and do our job, nothing more, nothing less.”
To operate more consistently, the Titans have to be able to win at the line of scrimmage, run Derrick Henry and set up Tannehill for play action passes.
Henry is averaging only 3.1 yards per carry after the first two games. He said they have to do better, all of them, but “the sky is not falling”.
Henry had 21 carries for 82 yards against the Giants. Against the Bills, he had 13 carries for 25 yards.
The good news for the Titans is Henry usually bounces back in a massive way after his worst games. Since 2018, when Henry rushed for less than 60 yards, the Titans are unbeaten the next week.
Head coach Mike Vrabel made it clear he wants the Titans to play to their identity and get back to doing less better. That basically means batter people with Henry and then build from there.
“Just think about every time throughout all of our lives when things haven’t really been great,” Vrabel said. “We’ve all faced adversity. You rally around what you believe, your core beliefs and your family, the people that you trust. That was what my message was, ‘Do the things that we believe in and that we know works.’”
The Raiders run defense has surrendered 109 yards per game, but only 3.7 yards per carry. The danger for the Titans is if they cannot run the ball and they fall behind, it will allow Raider pass rushers Max Crosby and Chandler Jones to just rush the passer and tee off on Tannehill like Jones did last year as a member of the Cardinals when he had five sacks.
Defensively, the Titans have to find a way to pressure Derek Carr without starting outside linebackers Harold Landry and Bud Dupree. That puts a lot of pressure on Jeffrey Simmons inside and likely means Denico Autry will slide outside in definitive passing situations.
If they can’t, new Raiders wide receiver DaVante Adams is likely to rip them like Stefon Diggs did a week ago when he scored three touchdowns in a 34-point Buffalo win.
The Raiders also have injury issues. Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow is out and running back Josh Jacobs is doubtful.
Kickoff is set for noon at Nissan Stadium.