When the Tennessee Titans lose a heart breaker like they did today, it is easy to say that they need to finish games better. However, the game should never have been in reach after the Titans dominated for 3 quarters. So, what could the Titans have done better to seal the game early?
Offensively, I think the answer is running the ball. When your quarterback is constantly under duress and is still finding ways to complete 66% of his passes, then you have to help him with the ground game to give him a chance to win.
I think that all starts with the guard/center/guard/ combination in the middle of the offensive line. Byron Bell, Brian Schwenke, and Jamon Meredith aren't getting it done in the middle, and there is some reason to expect that to get better. When Chance Warmack comes back the Titans will have a better push on the offensive right side of the line, but that still leaves some pretty big issues at left guard and center.
I think the plan ultimately is to have Jeremiah Poutasi slide into the left guard role once they find someone who can play right tackle, and it is a shame that they didn't let him play there to begin his career. He is a natural fit at guard, and moving from left tackle to left guard isn't as big of a switch as some would think and it allows the linemen to use the same dominant hand which is a bigger thing than most realize.
If/when the Titans find that tackle then this offensive line should get much better because I think Poutasi has the ability to be a mauler.
Another issue is that refs keep flagging Taylor Lewan for some trash calls. I don't want to blame the refs, but they might have played a big part in killing this team today. On two separate occasions they called hands to the face after the Bills defensive line had been pretty rough on the inside themselves without getting flags, and on one of those calls he didn't even touch his guy above the shoulders.
When they don't flag Lewan, he is great at sealing the edge and playing physically through the whistle.He is a bright young player and will be a fixture of this offensive line for a long time, but like David Stewart his aggression is going to hurt the team at times.
I should say, the Titans are doing a very good job running the ball in short down and distance situations, that isn't the problem. Maybe once David Cobb gets back they will have a runner that can consistently rip off chunks on the ground without gaping holes, but it would be great if Bishop Sankey or Antonio Andrews could step up and become more than a rotational player.