The Titans dropped to 0-3 in the preseason with a 16-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday. While the record really doesn’t matter, there is no doubt this was a bad day for the Titans offense. After looking strong for the first two weeks, the first team offense really struggled in Pittsburgh. On the plus side, the defense held its own and kept this from turning in to a blow out.
Jayon Brown got the start next to Wesley Woodyard at inside linebacker and the first team defense got a stop on Pittsburgh’s first series. The best play of the drive was Adoree’ Jackson driving on a shallow crossing route to stop his former college teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster for a short gain.
Tajae Sharpe got the start across from Corey Davis for a second straight week and makes a couple nice early catches. Taywan Taylor was rotating in with the top group as well. Taylor had a bad drop on a wide receiver screen later in the first half as he failed to follow up his breakout game against the Bucs with another good game.
We saw a miscommunication early between Josh Kline and Derrick Henry that resulted in a sack of Marcus Mariota during the first drive. That’s something Henry has struggled with the past couple years and it reared it’s head again here.
The drive ended with what appeared to be a miscommunication — or a really bad throw — between Mariota and Corey Davis. Davis was wide open but the throw bounced at his feet. It looked like Mariota expected Davis to flatten his route while Davis continued up field. On the next drive another 3rd down saw Mariota miss Davis again, this time high. It was a little disconcerting to see Mariota and Davis so clearly not on the same page during what is likely to be their last live reps before the regular season.
Mariota finished his day with his first turnover of the preseason as he threw late over the middle — never a good idea — and had the crossing route undercut for an interception. He is unlikely to appear in the final preseason game so that’s probably the last snap we will see from him before Week 1 in Miami.
During the second defensive drive, Harold Landry left with an ankle injury and would not return. There is no telling how serious the injury is, but with the Titans already missing starters Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan with injuries, the situation at outside linebacker is getting pretty bleak. They need people to start getting healthy here in a hurry.
Kevin Pamphile got some work at right guard with the first team offense, though it didn’t go real well. Pamphile allowed a sack on Mariota while he was in on a play action pass.
Kenneth Durden was the first corner in at the CB5 spot which hints that he might be the current favorite to win that spot over Rico Gafford.
The first half was pretty much a disaster on offense. The defense was pretty good with the exception of one big play to Justin Hunter (of all people). Seeing the first team offense that out of sorts just two weeks away from the regular season opener was pretty concerning.
In the second half Julius Warmsley continued his strong performance as he made plays and drew a big holding call on a nice pass rush. He combined with Matt Dickerson on a sack later on.
The second half was largely uneventful besides Anthony Firkser making a bunch of plays late and Devin Ross and Deontay Burnett making a few catches. David Fluellen played well once again and likely solidified his spot on the roster with Akrum Wadley and Dalyn Dawkins out with injuries. Fluellen played well again and should make this team.
Overall, this was not a great day for the Titans. They lost Harold Landry (ankle) and Nick Williams (hamstring) to injuries and the offense largely looked lost. The offensive line was a total disaster throughout the day, allowing several sacks and more pressures on the Titans quarterbacks. Mariota and Davis’ inability to get on the same page was probably the most troubling part of the game. Tennessee will need those two to be clicking once the regular season starts in two short weeks.
Defensively, there isn’t much to complain about. The Titans played well against the Steelers offense, particularly Adoree’ Jackson who made several nice plays on the day. However, the health of the outside linebackers is going to be a major story as we head towards Week 1 of the regular season.