After a brutal 27-3 loss in Week 3 to the Cleveland Browns where the Tennessee Titans looked completely ineffective on both sides of the ball, there are a lot of different directions you could point when playing the blame game. Here's who should be looked at the closest when analyzing why the Titans were so lifeless in a Week 3 loss to the Browns.
Derrick Henry, RB
Heavy is the head that wears the crown. There are a myriad of issues that are behind King Henry only getting 11 carries for 20 yards against the Browns, including unimaginative playcalling, a failure to utilize play-action properly, and running into stacked boxes. There's only so much Henry can do against 8-man fronts, but he still needs to be much more effective with his touches if the Titans want to have any hope of consistently winning games.
Derrick Henry has put up duds like this in the past and erupted the very next week for 200 yards, so it's not time to panic just yet. But at 29 years old with a lot of tread on his tires, it is fair to wonder whether or not Henry is finally slowing down and if he's closer to his 3.2 yards per carry this season than the 4.7 yards per carry he averages on his career. The Titans have been working in Tyjae Spears much more than expected to start the year, and it's possible Henry isn't playing anywhere close to 100 percent.
For the Titans to win games, Derrick Henry simply has to be his usual self, as the pass defense is too susceptible and Ryan Tannehill (more on him in a bit) can't carry an offense. There were one or two opportunities to break off a big run against the Browns, but Henry and the Titans failed to capitalize.
Ryan Tannehill, QB
The Browns defense looks like one of the best units in the league, so any calls for Tannehill's job by Titans fans are an overreaction. He gives the Titans the best chance to win every week, even if his ceiling is limited. If the Titans run game isn't clicking, the offense is in big trouble no matter who is behind center.
Still, it would be nice to see Tannehill take less sacks (13 in 3 games) and throw more than one touchdown on 83 attempts. The Titans just don't have any juice in the passing game right now, as the line isn't holding up to let downfield routes develop and DeAndre Hopkins has been little more than a safety valve for Tannehill. Something needs to change with this passing game, as Treylon Burks isn't playing well and the Titans aren't threatening safeties nearly enough.
Can Ryan Tannehill right the ship? The next three games (CIN, IND, BAL) before the Week 7 bye could determine how much longer he remains the starting quarterback. If the Titans can't get their ground game going, they may need to manufacture some big plays with a faster, more athletic quarterback behind center. Tannehill has earned the right to at least see the next three games through, however.
Kristian Fulton, DB
Fulton was routinely toasted in coverage on Sunday against Amari Cooper and Elijah Moore, and is currently ranked 100th out of 102 cornerbacks in overall grade by Pro Football Focus. The Titans have been a total pass funnel through three weeks this season, allowing opposing quarterbacks to sling it all over the field. That's a bad recipe for a team that wants to keep scores low, and Fulton getting regularly burned isn't helping matters one bit.
The Titans have arguably the best run defense in the league, allowing 2.6 yards per attempt, but that hardly matters if teams can throw it beyond the sticks every down. Fulton simply has to player, and the Titans need to adjust schematically to keep their corners off an island moving forward after this Week 3 debacle.