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Titans Defense has to Prioritize Stopping Melvin Gordon

LA Chargers offensive multi-weapon Melvin Gordon was added to the injury report. How can the defense limit his effectiveness?

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans will try to earn their first win in the past few weeks as they travel across the pond to face the talented Los Angeles Chargers.

Running Wild

The Chargers have one of the best offensive attacks in football as the team has the potential to do damage both through the air and on the ground. This spells trouble for a Titans team that has struggled to deal with both.

The Titans run defense has plummeted over the past few weeks and the absences of Wesley Woodyard and Will Compton both have left a void in the center of the defense. The Titans get Woodyard back this week, but will be without outside linebacker Derrick Morgan.

Tennessee’s run defense currently ranks 27th in total rush yards allowed and rank 17th in average rush yards allowed per attempt. Despite ranking in the bottom half of the league, the Titans are tied for 6th in fewest rushing touchdowns allowed.

Melvin Gordon leads the Chargers stable of running backs and has proven he can be deadly with the football in his hands. The Chargers offense currently ranks 6th in total rush yards and are tied with a handful of other clubs for rushing touchdowns with six.

The Chargers offensive line has done well in creating holes and building a workable pocket for veteran Phillip Rivers to dissect defenses. His quick release combined with his experience will make him the toughest quarterback the Titans defense has faced all season.

Ageless Rivers

Rivers has the Chargers passing offense ranked 13th in total passing yards. The Chargers rank 4th in passing touchdowns with a whopping 15.

This is concerning.

When facing the Titans, Rivers usually tends to carve up the secondary. He understands how to use his weapons, how to adjust the plays based on his pre-snap reads and can get the ball out of his hands in a heartbeat once he starts to feel a bit of pressure.

The Titans secondary ranks 8th in fewest passing yards allowed and is tied for 3rd for fewest pass touchdowns given up

That seems great - but then you look at the quarterbacks they’ve faced.

Rivers is head and shoulders above any of the quarterbacks in terms of overall ability. Sure, Carson Wentz is off to a promising career, Joe Flacco is playing good football and Deshaun Watson has shown his Jekyll and Hyde abilities week to week (it helps having DeAndre Hopkins) - but the rest of the list aren’t too great.

The will of this Titans defense will be tested. The Chargers are built on lacing together explosive plays. The Titans have struggled to stop the explosions, and recovering has also proven to be difficult.

Mainly due to the offense lacking any kind of explosion over the past few weeks.

The Titans cannot aren’t built to engage in a shoot-out with the Chargers, so the best help to the defense will be the offense finding a way to score a touchdown. A single touchdown won’t win this game, a pair might make it close but three touchdowns will be the difference in leaving London with a W or an L.

Expect Rivers to target Malcolm Butler early and often. He is aware of Butler’s struggles and will look to break his will and shatter his confidence early. The Titans must be prepared and the defensive adjustments should be made to avoid letting Butler take a punch right out of the gate.

The Titans defense will be asked to do a lot and the talent is there to do it - it’s just a matter of whether they are on the field for a lengthy time or not. The offense hold the key to keeping the defense fresh and ready to contend with a fiery Charger offense.