clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Previewing the Jets’ opposition: Tennessee Titans

Syndication: The Tennessean Andrew Nelles / Tennessean.com via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Jets will try again to notch their first win of the year as they face the Tennessee Titans for just the second time since 2015. In the last meeting between the teams, rookie Sam Darnold led the Jets to a 16-0 lead but the Titans roared back and won on a last minute Corey Davis touchdown. The Titans have established themselves as a playoff contender over the past few years and should provide a tough matchup for the Jets despite some injuries.

Quarterbacks

Ryan Tannehill has started 10 games against the Jets in his career and it may seem like he’s had some good performances against them over the years but he only threw more than two touchdown passes once and that was in a loss.

However, since signing for the Titans, he’s taken his game to the next level, passing for a career high 33 touchdowns last season with just seven interceptions. He also led six game-winning drives.

He’s led them to a 2-1 record so far in 2021 and passed for 347 yards in week two. However, he’s been sacked 10 times already.

Logan Woodside beat out Matt Barkley to win the backup role. He has just seven passing yards in his NFL career.

Offensive Line

The Titans’ most expensive offensive lineman is left tackle Taylor Lewan, a three-time pro bowler who signed an $80 million extension in 2018. However, he tore his ACL last year and has struggled so far this season, missing one game. However, Tennessee’s offense still performed well without him last year.

They’re strong up the middle with left guard Roger Saffold, center Ben Jones and right guard Nate Davis returning after only having missed one start between them last season.

In March, last year’s right tackle Dennis Kelly was released and last year’s first round pick Isaiah Wilson was traded following a series of issues. David Quessenberry and Ty Sambrailo each started several games in 2020 and were in contention for the starting right tackle role with Quessenberry winning the job. Sambrailo got a start in week two when Lewan was out.

Dillon Radunz was drafted in the second round to provide some young interior depth and Aaron Brewer also made the team after contributing in a reserve role as an undrafted rookie last season. Journeyman Kendall Lamm also brings good experience.

Running Backs

The Titans offense is built around Derrick Henry, who rushed for over 2,000 yards last season and is coming off back to back 100-yard games this year. With some of the Titans’ injuries to their wide receivers, he could see even more work than usual this week.

Henry gets most of the workload with Jeremy McNichols as his main backup. McNichols hasn’t played much but caught a touchdown pass in the win over the Colts in week three. Undrafted rookie Mekhi Sargeant and fullback Khari Blasingame round out the rotation and another fullback, rookie Tory Carter, has been elevated from the practice squad for the game.

Pass catchers

The Titans, who allowed Davis to leave at the end of last season, have injury issues at wide receiver this week as AJ Brown and Julio Jones have each been ruled out. Brown, who is coming off back-to-back thousand yard seasons, was off to a slow start, but Jones had a 100-yard game in week two.

With these two out, they’ll be looking for someone else to step up and Josh Reynolds, who caught more than 50 passes last season with the Rams, could be that guy. Chester Rogers, who often plays in the slot, also had a 50-catch season, albeit back in 2018. Other than Jones, he’s leading the Titans wide receivers with seven catches this season.

Another candidate to step up is Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, who started and caught a career-high four passes for 53 yards and a touchdown last week.

Cameron Batson, who caught 12 passes last season, sixth round rookie Racey McMath and Marcus Johnson, who has been on injured reserve, could also contribute.

Geoff Swaim is listed as the starting tight end, although former Jets cast-off Anthony Firkser was the more productive pass catcher last year with 39 catches.

The athletic MyCole Pruitt and blocking specialist Tommy Hudson are also on the team.

Defensive Line

The Titans play a 3-4 system and, following the retirement of Jurrell Casey in September, their defensive line is led by 2019 first round pick Jeffery Simmons, who is a good run stuffer but hasn’t made a big impact as a pass rusher yet.

To improve that aspect, the Titans signed Denico Autry to a three-year deal after he racked up 20 sacks in three seasons with the Colts. Autry can also line up outside and rush off the edge.

The other starter is nose tackle Teair Tart with Naquan Jones providing depth. Larell Murchison has been placed on injured reserve so they have brought up Woodrow Hamilton and Amani Bledsoe to add some depth.

Linebackers

The Titans’ depth at outside linebacker has also taken a hit as starter Bud Dupree was ruled out for Sunday. Reserves Derick Robertson and Rashad Weaver were also placed on injured reserve during the week.

Harold Landry is their best pass rusher, having been the only Titans player to record more than three sacks last season. He ended up with 5.5 sacks after having had nine in 2019.

With Dupree out, it’s a good chance for Ola Adeniyi to get more playing time. Despite only playing 40 snaps so far, Adeniyi leads the Titans with 2.5 sacks; the first of his career.

Needing additional depth, the Titans have also signed ex-Jet Sharif Finch from the practice squad.

At inside linebacker, Jayon Brown and Rashaan Evans are listed as the starters but both have struggled so far this season. David Long has also been getting a lot of reps.

Third round rookie Monty Rice and special teams contributor Nick Dzubnar are waiting in the wings.

Defensive Backs

Veteran Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins and 2020 second rounder Kristian Fulton are the starters on the outside for the Titans after they released Malcolm Butler in March.

In the slot, Chris Jackson and third round rookie Elijah Molden have both seen action but Molden has struggled so far.

First round rookie Caleb Farley has had some injury issues so far so he hasn’t played much and is ruled out for this weekend. Breon Borders provides depth off the bench, though.

The Titans placed safety Amani Hooker on injured reserve a few weeks ago, so Dane Cruikshank is starting alongside Kevin Byard who is the highest paid defensive player on the team and led the Titans with 111 tackles last year.

Another former Jet, Matthias Farley is currently the third safety but hasn’t contributed on defense yet.

Special Teams

The Titans had to sign a punter this week due to an injury to three-time pro bowler Brett Kern. Johnny Townsend, who has punted just twice since 2018, was the guy they decided to bring in.

After a remarkable preseason, Sam Ficken won the Titans’ placekicker role, only to then get injured. Randy Bullock replaced him and has made 10 of 11 kicks in the first three games.

Chester Rogers is the primary return man, although he’s been more effective on punts than kickoffs so far. Batson and McNichols are options to back him up.

Adeniyi, Dzubnar and McMath are good contributors in kick coverage. McMath was an excellent punt gunner at LSU and Dzubnar led the NFL in special teams tackles in 2017 with 21.