If I had told you before the Titans vs. Vikings game that the Titans would hold Adrian Peterson to less than 2.5 yards per carry with Shaun Hill at quarterback I think we all would have agreed that the Titans would come out with another win to start the season. If I had told you that they would establish the run the way they talked about all offseason we would have probably agreed that the Titans would have won handily.
Through one-half of football, the Titans were doing just that. DeMarco Murray ran the ball with authority and Derrick Henry looked every bit as impressive as he did in the preseason. Marcus Mariota displayed great chemistry with Tajae Sharpe and seemed to build off of last year’s success.
Then halftime ended, Mariota looked like a rookie again, and the Titans abandoned the power running style well before the game was out of reach. Head coach Mike Mularkey went for two when he should have kicked the extra point towards the end game. When they did not convert he essentially ended the game early, leaving them two scores behind with less than a minute to go.
To note some of the positives, the Titans are clearly capable of establishing the smashmouth running style they have talked about so much this year. The line was able to open up holes for Murray and Henry, and Mariota was able to create some nice gains on designed run plays. The wide receiving crew is hands down better than last year with the additions of Sharpe and Matthews, and that is without having Kendall Wright for this game.
It is easy to forget that in some senses Mariota is still a rookie. Sure he’s had a whole offseason to get better, but the Vikings game was still just the 13th start of his career. He will grow with this team and they will continue to get better together. He will establish even better chemistry with his wide receivers, Murray and Henry will get their timing down with the offensive line, and Mularkey should have them cutting down on mistakes throughout the season.
Yet, if Tennessee proved one thing on Sunday, it is that they are simply not ready to compete yet. The saying goes good teams find a way to win and bad teams find a way to lose. That is exactly what the Titans did against the Vikings, they beat themselves.
They are in a division that is on the come up, so they will have to get better and smarter quickly, or else they risk falling even farther behind. Luckily for them, they have two first round picks next year waiting to give the team an influx of talent and possibly another haul of picks if they can trade one of those picks again. The pick they are receiving from the Rams looks particularly promising right now as the Rams were absolutely awful on Monday Night Football. With some luck, the Titans might hold the first pick in the draft again next year and set themselves up for another great draft in 2018. For now, they should probably work on executing the read option, though.