What We Saw: Monday Night Edition

Brett Ford and Benjamin Haller recap Monday night's NFL action

Titans @ Bills

Final Score: Bills 41, Titans 7

Writer: Brett Ford (@fadethatman on Twitter)

 

First and foremost, prayers up to Buffalo cornerback Dane Jackson. At the time of writing this, there’s not much information on his injury, but he was put straight into an ambulance from the turf on a helmet-to-helmet hit that looked awful. Here’s to a speedy recovery.

The Tennessee Titans had a Murphy’s Law game. Just about everything that could have gone wrong did for the visiting team. The Titans’ offensive line was dominated by the Bills’ front four and things deteriorated from there for the offense. On defense, Mike Vrabel’s unit was picked apart by Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs as the Bills did mostly whatever they wanted to offensively.

The one bright spot for Tennessee is that third-round pick and quarterback of the future Malik Willis got some game-speed reps in the third and fourth quarters, though he didn’t look great either.

Let’s dig in.

Tennessee Titans

 

Quarterback

 

Ryan Tannehill: 11/20, 117 Yards, 2 Int | 1 Carry, 2 Yards

Malik Willis: 1/4, 6 Yards | 4 Carries, 16 Yards, Fumble (Lost)

 

Ryan Tannehill struggled without much protection as the Buffalo defensive line, led by Von Miller, pressured him all night long. When he didn’t have a blue jersey in his face, Tannehill found his wide receivers in short yardage areas and hoped that they made a play after the catch. The entire Titans’ offense hinges on the effectiveness of the run game to unlock the play-action passing game. With the run rendered practically useless, the whole Titan offense stalled, and predictably, Tannehill performed poorly.

Tannehill threw two picks – the first of which he made the right decision but didn’t execute, throwing slightly behind intended receiver Robert Woods. The ball was tipped by Tremaine Edmunds and into the hands of Jordan Poyer.

 

 

Tannehill’s second interception was a bad choice. Whether it was a bad read of the defense or not, the ball ended up right in the chest of Bills’ linebacker Matt Milano who returned it for a house call. It ended up as the final snap of Tannehill’s night as the Titans turned to the rookie Willis, trailing, 41-7.

 

 

Malik Willis was under duress just as much as Tannehill, but was able to make a few plays with his feet. The one throw he did complete was short, simple and to the middle of the field. Based on his performance, I don’t think we’ll see him again until the Titans are completely out of contention. If the team was in any other division than the AFC South, I’d say that may be sooner than later, but even at 0-2, the Titans could still end the season on top of this mediocre division.

 

Running Back

 

Derrick Henry: 13 Carries, 25 Yards, TD

Hassan Haskins: 9 Carries, 37 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 0 Yards

 

Don’t think we’re there quite yet… The Titans played Monday night without their starting left tackle Taylor Lewan and are still working to build up rookie right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere. Three of King Henry’s first eight rushes went for negative yardage as the Bills’ front seven created penetration and disruption in the Titans’ backfield. Henry struggled to build up a head of steam moving forward, but on the rare occasion that he did he looked like the guy we all know and love, generating his longest run of the evening on an outside pitch where he beat the Bills around the edge and tumbled forward for a nine-yard gain.

With Dontrell Hilliard out, Hassan Haskins filled in as the spell back for Henry, and looked relatively effective in his limited touches. Most of Haskins’ yardage came in garbage time as Willis handed the ball off to him several times. Even if Hilliard remains out, Haskins is not fantasy relevant, especially without pass game involvement (only one target on Monday night).

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Treylon Burks: 6 Targets, 4 Receptions, 47 Yards

Robert Woods: 5 Targets, 4 Receptions, 39 Yards

Austin Hooper: 4 Targets, 1 Reception, 19 Yards

Kyle Phillips: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 5 Yards, Fumble (Lost)

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine: 4 Targets, 1 Reception, 13 Yards

 

Despite his quarterback and offensive line’s struggles, Treylon Burks posted a strong performance, dictating a team-high six targets for four catches, a marked improvement over his week one totals. His best catch and run came on 3rd and 15, a designed WR short cross with blockers in front of him. Burks caught the ball in space and followed his blocks to gain the first down. Those kinds of schemed looks are what fantasy managers are looking for.

 

 

Just two plays after Burks’ big gain on a designed play, Robert Woods gained about 20 yards on a tunnel screen, but it was called back for an offensive face mask penalty. Tennessee offensive coordinator Todd Downing has clearly identified Burks and Woods as his two best playmaking pass-catchers and will likely continue to get them each scripted looks going forward. Meanwhile, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Austin Hooper were each targeted four times but made just one catch apiece. Kyle Phillips muffed a punt, firmly planting himself in Vrabel’s doghouse. We’ll see how long he stays there, but for now he is droppable even in the deepest leagues.

Had this game remained competitive, I think the Titans’ top two wide receivers would have been more productive, especially after Buffalo lost starting cornerback Dane Jackson to a neck injury. With just 8.6 and 5.1 (PPR) fantasy points per game through two weeks respectively, Burks and Woods are both buy-low candidates as this offense settles in. The Titans face teams ranked within the bottom third of the league in wide receiver scoring (fantasy points/game) in seven of their final eight games of the season.

 

Buffalo Bills

Quarterback

 

Josh Allen: 26/38, 317 Yards, 4 TD | 1 Carry, 10 Yards

Case Keenum: 0/2, 0 Yards | 3 Carries, 2 Yards

 

In 49 offensive plays with Josh Allen under center, Buffalo offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey called 40 passes. Allen scrambled once and was sacked once. If you had the best quarterback in the NFL (yeah, I said it) at your disposal, you would call over 80% pass plays too.

The Buffalo offensive line held the Titans’ defense, which registered five sacks against the Giants in week one, to just one sack, providing Allen with plenty of time to deliver long passes to his wide receivers, Stefon Diggs in particular. Allen was able to complete seven passes of 15 yards or more, including a 46-yard touchdown strike to Diggs, the longest completion of the game.

 

 

Case Keenum closed out the game in the third and fourth quarters and looked outstanding as he kneeled out the final seconds of the contest.

 

Running Back

 

Devin Singletary: 6 Carries, 19 Yards | 4 Targets, 2 Receptions, 2 Yards

Reggie Gilliam: 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 17 Yards, TD

Zack Moss: 3 Carries, 17 Yards | 1 Targets, 0 Receptions, 0 Yards

James Cook: 11 Carries, 53 Yards | 1 Targets, 0 Receptions, 0 Yards

 

Someone get Buffalo fullback Reggie Gilliam a deal for the next season of Dancing With the Stars. Gilliam looked downright nimble dodging would-be tacklers left and right on an 11-yard touchdown catch off a designed screen play to open the scoring. His next reception, he pirouetted over a lunging defender for an extra few yards again. He’s not fantasy relevant, but at 6-0, 244 lbs, the man is graceful as a dancing bear.

 

 

In the Bills’ backfield, Devin Singletary remains the definitive top dog despite toting the ball just six times in this one. Singletary did have two catches on four targets, while Zack Moss, who was targeted six times against the Rams, had just three carries and one fruitless target.

Rookie running back James Cook got 11 carries for 53 yards, but most of his touches came in garbage time as the Bills ran out the clock. Cook did show his potential with a 33-yard gallop around the left side but he still hasn’t carved out a definitive role in this offense quite yet.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Stefon Diggs: 14 Targets, 12 Receptions, 148 Yards, 3 TD

Isaiah McKenzie: 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 37 Yards

Dawson Knox: 5 Targets, 4 Receptions, 41 Yards

Jamison Crowder: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 16 Yards

Khalil Shakir: 2 Targets

Jake Kumerow: 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 50 Yards

Quintin Morris: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 6 Yards

 

I wonder if Stefon Diggs watched the Miami Dolphins wide receiver duo tool on the Ravens’ secondary on Sunday afternoon and said to himself, “I can do that.”

Without Gabriel Davis on the field, Stefon Diggs looked like as much of an alpha wide receiver as he ever had, dominating the Bills’ target share, nearly tripling the next closest Buffalo pass catcher in targets. With Titan’s number one cornerback Kristian Fulton out with an injury, Diggs feasted on rookie cornerback Roger McCreary and back up Caleb Farley for most of the game, Diggs went to work to the tune of 148 yards and three touchdowns on 12 catches.

When things broke down for the offense, the ball went to Diggs.

 

 

When things broke down for the defense, the ball went to Diggs (note the safety Kevin Byard biting on the intermediate crossing route in the highlight above).

And anytime he had a one-on-one matchup with whatever cornerback the Titans threw out there, the ball went to Diggs.

 

 

Outside of Diggs, Buffalo replaced Gabriel Davis with a wide-receiver-by-committee approach, as Jake Kumerow, Isaiah McKenzie, Jamison Crowder and Khalil Shakir each received at least two targets. Though none should be considered fantasy starters except in the deepest of leagues, especially once Davis returns.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.