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Titans’ defensive issues return in ugly loss vs. Browns

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Just when you thought this Titans defense was starting to turn a corner, they go out and do that.

Back-to-back impressive performances in wins over the Ravens and Colts provided some hope that this defense had turned a new leaf. We had plenty of reasons to believe it was possible. It was false hope.

The Browns compiled an astounding 344 yards in the first half alone on their way to a 38-7 lead at the break. The Browns are the first team to score 38 points in a single half this season. You couldn’t tell if that was Baker Mayfield or Patrick Mahomes out there.

There is so much blame to go around. Where shall we start? Perhaps with the pass rush, or lack thereof. The Titans didn’t record a single sack. Mayfield was hit just once all day long. It’s not the first time this team has put up a big fat 0 in the sack column this season. It probably won’t be the last time either.

Harold Landry continues to be on the field for nearly every single defensive snap. It’s certainly taking a toll on his effectiveness. Before the season started, the coaching staff discussed keeping Landry fresher this year after a heavy workload last season. This hasn’t happened. Thanks to the offseason nightmare that was Vic Beasley and the disappointing Jadeveon Clowney, who is now OUT for the season and will likely end his Titans career with 0 sacks, Landry has had to play nearly every snap on a weekly basis.

Derick Roberson and Tuzar Skipper continue to operate as the team’s second and third rushers, but they’re hardly rosterable players.

Fixing this group has to be priority No. 1 this summer. And Jon Robinson has to do much, much better than last offseason.

Let’s talk about the cornerbacks a little. Breon Borders has quickly become a fan favorite as of late but he looked more like the practice squader he was just a few weeks ago. He was routinely burned by whoever he was covering. He also gave up two touchdown passes in coverage. Borders has done some good things as of late, and we shouldn’t forget about that now, but his limitations were on display.

I’ve read some opinions that stated Borders should keep his job when Adoree Jackson returns from injury. That’s just ridiculous. If you held this opinion, I hope you now realize how silly that is. Jackson will immediately slot into the starting lineup whenever he’s ready to return. Rightfully so.

Guys like Kevin Byard, Kenny Vaccaro, David Long Jr., Will Compton and Rashaan Evans were also awful on Sunday. Evans took not one, but two unsportsmanlike penalties. The linebackers routinely bit on play action and allowed Cleveland’s pass catchers to get wide open behind them on crossing routes.

I could go on and on. You probably get the point.

The Titans will look to get back on track in Jacksonville next week.