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Quick Recap - Final Score: Titans 27 Rams 14

The Titans dominated from early on, and never looked back.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Rams came to town to take on the Titans at the newly dubbed Nissan Stadium. How did the Titans fare?


The Highlights


It's hard to single out any one member. The offense played better football today than they have in some time. Marcus Mariota got some nice plays in early, hitting Wright on the game's first snap for a solid gain. Bishop Sankey came out of the gate with fire, running excellently for gains of 18 and 7 on his first two carries. He was physical throughout, and flashed good vision, dicing up the Rams defense on multiple occasions. Mariota had Wright drop a 3rd down pass attempt that stalled the first drive. On his second drive, Mariota rolled out right, eluded a defender, and hit TE Craig Stevens deep, showing his athleticism and touch on the play. Sankey continued where he left off, running for a particularly big gain off the left led by Byron Bell. Warmack and Poutassi also showcased some great blocking early on.

Mariota's best plays were ones that didn't show on the stat sheet. On one occasion, he managed to get outside the tackle box and get the ball away on a near sack AND also draw a roughing penalty. On another instance, he climbed the pocket and bought time, working through his progressions and finding Dexter McCluster for an easy TD throw in the middle of the's too bad that the RB dropped it. His sole mistake of the night was a pass in which he second guessed the throw before releasing it, and was lucky that the Rams safety let the high ball slip through his fingers.

Overall the offensive line gave Mariota much better protection against the Rams, which is especially notable given the high level of the competition. They also opened lanes for Sankey and Cobb to run, and had a particularly impressive great first quarter. All members had their moments, and avoided costly mistakes that showed up in game one. Andy Levitre didn't play until the second team came in...

After Mariota and the first team called it quits, Zach Mettenberger came in and immediately made an impact. He found Hakeem Nicks, who shook his man and sprinted down the left  sideline for a huge gain. Cobb and McCluster showed some physical running as well, the the former Cobb grinding forward for consistent yardage. Mettenberger later found the endzone, threading the needle on an incredible touchdown pass in the back of the end zone, finding Chase Coffman. He finished the first half up with a great string of passes, mostly to Dorial Green-Beckham, who really stood out on the drive.


The defense didn't get outdone. The Titans came out strong against the Rams, stuffing the run and besieging Nick Foles. The defensive line consistently collapsed the interior of the Rams pocket, with superb work from Al Woods, DaQuan Jones, and Karl Klug. Perrish Cox made the early contribution by recognizing a Rams slant route, getting in front of Kenny Britt, and picking off the ball. He took the ball back to the house for six to get Tennessee on the board. It's the kind of play you love to see from young defenders; showcasing instinct to diagnose and finish the play.

Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo showed up in a big way too, showing good fundamentals and dominating the front seven. Orakpo was particularly lively, hunting running backs in the backfield and in the flats. Michael Griffin also made some good plays both in pass and run defense worth noting.

Underzied DE Karl Klug continued to flash whenever he was on the field, getting great pressure on passing downs. On one particular on 3rd down play, he shook his blocker with a nifty spin move, and bore down on Foles, who was forced to launch the ball into the stands. It was a play that the Titans needed so much more of last season; Dick LeBeau and Ray Horton could be getting through to these guys. After giving up a lot of first drive touchdowns of late, Tennessee had a turnover and a host of defensive stops in the first half. Foles was 3 for 7 for 18 yards and an INT to his name before he called it quits for the night. The Rams RB's didn't fare much better either.

The 2nd unit didn't disappoint either, and the group played very fundamentally sound football. UDFA CB Cody Riggs is making a name for himself on this squad, and I like his odds to make the final 53. He made some impressive plays against the Rams, most of all when he beat his blocker and ripped Isaiah Pead to the turf for a loss when the RB caught a screen pass.

On top of all this, the Titans played very disciplined football too. The first team units didn't see a whole lot of yellow laundry. Let's hope this is a trend that continues. (UPDATE: The backup unit proceeded to generate more flags than an UN Summit. What's important is the first team.)


The Lowlights

MarQueston Huff made the only real big mistake of the night, getting outrun by Givens in what ended up an 80 yard bomb for a TD. The 3rd stringers lacked the run stopping physicality of the earlier groups, which statistically masks just how well the 1st stringers did.

The fact that I have so little to write here says volumes.


Top Performers: Marcus Mariota, Bishop Sankey, Brian Orakpo, Cody Riggs, Dorial Green-Beckham, Perrish Cox

Other Notable Performances: Chance Warmack, Al Woods, Derrick Morgan, David Cobb, Antonio Andrews, Jeremiah Poutassi, Chase Coffman.

Other Notes:

- Mettenberger continues his solid pre-season. This QB group should make you happy right now.

- The Titans have a lot of talent at TE and not enough roster spots for it all. Delanie Walker hasn't even played a preseason game, and Anthony Fasano, Craig Stevens, Chase Coffman, and Phillip Supernaw are making it difficult for the Titans FO.

-  The team have a similar quandary at RB. With the strong performances of Sankey, Cobb, and Andrews, where does a guy like Dexter McCluster fit in? He played a lot of snaps late against the Rams...

- Backup linebacker Yawin Smallwood played well in the latter stages of the game, recording a sack and playing physically against the run.

- Coffman didn't finish with the excellent TD from Mettenberger either. He hauled in one for the road too, collecting an 56 yard score from Alex Tanney. The kind of day that would be make Robert Greenlaw smile.


What To Look For Next Week?

The "dress rehearsal" should see the Titans starters play well into the second half. We will get our first extended look at Mariota and the first team offense. Hopefully they continue the trends of improvement they showed this week.

The running back competition is no clearer after Sankey's strong performance against St. Louis. Sankey looks like the front runner, but there is time left to decipher how this group shakes out.

Can the defense continue their strong performance? Their play against the run has been fairly remarkable thus far. It is a fluke? Or something more?