Trailing Jaguars by 17, Tennessee didn’t trust Marcus Mariota
On Thursday, the Tennessee Titans stepped onto TIAA Bank Field, in Jacksonville, favored to beat their AFC South rivals, the Jaguars. As the night unfolded, it became inherently clear that wouldn’t happen, as they ultimately lost 20-7.
The story ended in defeat, in large part due to their lack of trust of quarterback Marcus Mariota; who, by all intents and purposes, had a bad game. When they were down by 17 with minutes left in the third, that lack of trust in Mariota showed.
As Warren Sharp points out, in Tennessee’s four first and ten plays in that end of the third-quarter drive, the team ran the ball all four times for a total of two yards. That’s what you call conservative at the worst possible time; even worse, the Jaguars defense snuffed it out, making their lack of aggression that much more head-scratching.
The Titans were down 17-0 w a few minutes to go in the 3rd quarter.
Ball on the 25.
They had FOUR first & 10 plays
They called FOUR first & 10 runs!
1&10 RUN= 0 yds
1&10 RUN= 2 yds
1&10 RUN= 1 yd
1&10 RUN= -1 yds
This is insanity in the 1st qtr, let alone down 3 scores late!
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) September 20, 2019
Mariota’s poor night forced the Titans hand to call in such a conservative fashion down by three scores. He went 23 for 40 for 304 yards and no scores. While he didn’t have a turnover, his misthrown passes, holding onto the ball too long and questionable decision-making hurt the Titans more than it helped them.
However, offensive coordinator Arthur Smith could’ve drawn a bit more up that run, run, run and run on first down. In moments of desperation, the Titans looked like they were trying to milk the clock. Or, head coach Mike Vrabel could’ve put in Ryan Tannehill, a competent backup and six-year starter in Miami before his trade to Tennessee in 2019.
Nonetheless, the Titans will have much to think about before their Week 4 game against the Atlanta Falcons.