Texans @ Titans
Final Score: Texans 22, Titans 13
Writer: James Schiano (@JeterHadNoRange on Twitter)
This…was a game. Wet and rainy conditions in Nashville created an imperfect environment for football, especially offense, and allowed the Texans to expose some of the Titans’ primary flaws en route to a rather easy victory. Down big early, Tennessee was forced to pass the ball more than 50 times despite the (relative) early success of their running backs. This is not a winning formula when playing in slop.
On the other side, the early cushion allowed Tyrod Taylor to simply play his game and bring the Texans to a victory. It was not pretty, but he did just enough to get the team over the hump and earn David Culley a win in the same city where he played college ball.
Tyrod Taylor: 14/24, 107 yards | 6 carries, 28 yards, 2 TD
This was the quintessential Taylor game in that he made all the right plays without being spectacular in any particular area. Could he have taken some more chances? Sure. Could he have maybe pushed the ball downfield? Probably. But his team led wire to wire and any mistake would have put that in jeopardy. He had the right approach as rain washed over this game.
Houston forced a Titans punt on the first drive of the game and Taylor led his offense on a 14 play, 62-yard drive. Those are not typos. The Texans’ offense averaged 4.4 yards for 14 plays, somehow only had to convert one 3rd down, and wound up with just a field goal. The longest play was a 12 yard out to Chris Conley who had the Texans only two plays of over 10 yards.
Taylor stayed the course though and went full superman to get his team into the endzone a few drives later.
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) November 21, 2021
He went low on his next chance with the same result.
— NFL (@NFL) November 21, 2021
This drive started inside Tennessee’s five-yard line after a bizarre sequence where Chester Rogers turned his back on a punt moments before it was due to land and had it ricochet off his heel. Thank goodness too because the Texans wound up with zero first downs in the second half of this game. None! Yet, they managed 10 points thanks to the Titans’ sloppy play.
This was not pretty, but Taylor once again proved he can steer this ship and provide low-end QB1 production in the right matchup.
Rex Burkhead: 18 carries, 40 yards
David Johnson: 13 carries, 18 yards | 4 targets, 3 receptions, 16 yards
Phillip Lindsay: 1 carry, -3 yards
There is not much to see here. Houston has a complete and utter inability to run the football due to the lack of athleticism from their running backs, lack of talent among their receiving corps, and the opposing defense’s unwillingness to respect the deep ball. These issues were magnified by the unsavory weather conditions.
Chris Conley: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 37 yards
Brandin Cooks: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 18 yards
Pharoah Brown: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 10 yards
Chris Moore: 1 target, 1 reception, 1o yards
Nico Collins: 2 targets, 1 reception, 9 yards
Brevin Jordan: 3 targets, 1 reception, 7 yards
Danny Amendola: 1 target
This was the first game all season where the Titans did not record a sack. That is good on the Texans’ offensive line and Taylor’s ability to get the ball out quick and evade pressure when it came, but this group did not do much to help the cause.
Conley seems to be the most explosive out of this bunch and was able to move the sticks a few times. Cooks is the best player here, but the weather limited his ability to get behind the defense. The other veterans are far less exciting.
Collins and Jordan each could be something. Their usage is steadily increasing, which is a good start. This offense is just not suitable for production from anyone at all really.
Ryan Tannehill: 35/52, 323 yards, 1 TD, 4 INT | 2 carries, 3 yards
This was something of a disaster. I want to say Tannehill played alright given the circumstances. It’s just hard to make that case with four interceptions. Especially when they look like this.
— ✯✯✯✯✯ (@FTBVids_YT) November 21, 2021
Appreciate the tackling attempt by Ryan Tannehill on this pick six pic.twitter.com/CZDzFoDSr9
— ThatsGoodSports (@BrandonPerna) November 21, 2021
At least we saw some hustle there! Those were both brutal and the other two picks were not any better, but there was a portion of this game where Tannehill was losing by two scores, standing in the huddle without AJ Brown, Derrick Henry, or Julio Jones, the Texans pass rush was getting home consistently, and rain was pouring down. I am not sure how much we can expect out of anyone in that situation.
He dug deep though. Seven different Titans caught a ball in the first half. Seven! What the heck! And it’s not like Tannehill was spreading it around because there were a lot of mouths to feed, Brown and Adrian Peterson were probably the only Titans targeted that a casual NFL fan would recognize. This game was brutal in every sense of the word.
Adrian Peterson: 9 carries, 40 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 4 yards
Dontrell Hilliard: 7 carries, 35 yards | 10 targets, 8 receptions, 47 yards
D’Onta Foreman: 7 carries, 25 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 15 yards
Hilariously, the Titans’ run game looked great early before the game script forced them to give it up. Peterson broke off a few chunk plays early and it felt like he was about to turn back the clock for an afternoon.
All Day is BACK! @AdrianPeterson
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) November 21, 2021
Foreman was doing the same against his former team.
D'Onta Foreman getting the Titans into Texans territory again pic.twitter.com/pQiHlGsLEr
— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) November 21, 2021
Both of these backs look OK objectively, they are just sharing the early-down work and killing each other’s fantasy value.
The player who really popped from this group was Hilliard. If you read my write-up of the Titans last week, I said Jeremy McNichols was their running back to target because he would be in line for a 10 target game once the Titans found themselves in a game they were losing big. Well, McNichols missed this game with a concussion and Hilliard made my wish come true.
The Tulane mostly capitalized on his opportunity and showed some nice wiggle with the ball in his hands. He may have jumped McNichols for this role, but there’s no guarantee there.
Nevertheless, no Titans running back has seen greater than a 50% share of the team’s rushes in a game since Henry went down. Absolutely brutal.
AJ Brown: 9 targets, 5 receptions, 48 yards
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine: 8 targets, 7 receptions, 107 yards
Chester Rogers: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 41 yards | 1 fumble lost
Dez Fitzpatrick: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 35 yards, 1 TD
Anthony Firkser: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 26 yards
Marcus Johnson: 1 target
Tommy Hudson: 1 target
Yikes. What a catastrophe. Brown briefly left this game with a shoulder issue in the second quarter and did not seem himself upon returning. He still made some plays, though.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 21, 2021
It is just so frustrating that he is not producing more as the only skill player worth anything in this offense. I am hoping there is a light at the end of this tunnel, but the Titans’ play style is making it difficult to hold out.
We were fooled by Westbrook-Ikhine early on this season, so do not fall for the trap again. This offense produces volume. There is just no telling which WR will be able to benefit most from the increased attention that is placed on Brown. It could be anyone.
Fitzpatrick rose above the crop today as well and caught a big TD that gave the Titans a pulse.
— NFL (@NFL) November 21, 2021
He is quite unspectacular though. As are the rest of these players besides Brown. What a disaster in Tennessee, let’s hope they can get Julio Jones back soon.
— James Schiano (@JeterHadNoRange on Twitter)