Two of the AFC’s most exciting teams finally met in Week 15 at Nashville, but unfortunately the Titans came up short this time against the Texans, ending a four-game winning streak and sending them to 8-5. It was a disappointing AFC South showdown where the team couldn’t overcome a slow start and a defense that gave up 10 points late in the 4th quarter to practically seal victory for Houston.
There were definitely positives to take from this game, and the team’s playoff hopes are still alive as they can still win the division (they face the Texans again in Week 17), but this leaves a bitter taste. This was a winnable game and the Titans just couldn’t snatch victory from the jaws of defeat for a change.
With that said, here’s three things we learned from the Titans’ loss on Sunday.
The Pass Rush Has To Play Better
Losing Cameron Wake for the season hurts, and other pieces like Harold Landry and Jeffery Simmons are young and still learning the game at a higher level of play, but they only managed to hit Deshaun Watson once all game (Kamalei Correa’s sack in the first quarter). Watson’s mobility and play under pressure eliminated some of the duress the line created, but this was still a brutal showing from the defensive line especially with a secondary that’s been hit bad.
The bad news is the Titans play the Saints next week, who are among the league’s best in eliminating sacks and QB hits this season. The good news is that this game will be played in Nashville instead of the unstoppable gauntlet that is the Superdome. They have less than a week to prepare.
A.J. Brown Is Still a God Among Mortal Men
One bright spot on Sunday has been star rookie wideout A.J. Brown, who keeps getting better and better as each week progresses. In his first game against the Texans he had 8 catches for 114 yards and a touchdown for 14.25 yards per reception. Not bad!
In his last four games, Brown has caught 20 passes for 447 yards, 22.35 yards per reception, 4 touchdowns, and 111.8 yards per game. That he’s caught 69 percent of his passes on this stretch is pretty nice too, and he’s 107 yards away from reaching the 1,000 yard marker (currently sitting at 893).
Brown’s route running, strong hands, and elusiveness were on full display against the Texans, most notably on this 60-yard play starting on Tennessee’s own 3-yard line. Elderly statesman Jonathan Joseph tries to jam Brown up at the line of scrimmage, but the rookie swats it away and uses his speed to breakaway for the deep connection.
With Brown’s recent stretch of play, I expect him to reach 1,000 yards on the year. He’s given the Titans a boost at the receiving corps they’ve badly needed, and he looks to be a star icon in the making.
The Titans Need To Be More Of A First Half Team
The Titans’ four-game win streak was a lot of fun, but it wasn’t without its flaws. The team scored 48 first half points during this stretch (21 of which came against the Raiders), which is 12 points per game. Of course, they scored 102 second half points in those four games (25.5 per game) so they had the sparks to overcome their slow starts then, but not this time.
Scoring zero points in the first half put the Titans in a huge hole early, even with the defense allowing 14 points then. Against the Saints, that has to change, as the postseason stakes are on the line for Tennessee.
Give us what you learned in the comment section below!