The Titans will meet the Seahawks in Seattle for a big Week 2 contest. The Titans have a lot to prove after laying a stinker in Week 1 against the Cardinals. Mike Vrabel and Co. will be eager to prove that last Sunday was an anomaly, but they’ll have their work cut out for them against a dangerous Seattle team.
There are several intriguing one-vs-one matchups that will take place when these two teams take the field. Here are three heavyweight battles we’re particularly excited to monitor.
TAYLOR LEWAN VS. RASHEEM GREEN & BENSON MAYOWA
Could we start with anything else? This is one of the matchups we’ll be paying close attention to after last week’s debacle. Taylor Lewan returned to the field last Sunday after spending nearly 12 months rehabbing from a torn ACL, and looked very rusty while getting beaten like a drum by Cardinals EDGE Chandler Jones in Week 1.
The consensus this offseason was that the Titans offense would be better off with Lewan back in the fold, and one would think that statement is rooted in logic. That wasn’t the case against the Cardinals, though. Lewan was a downright liability, and single-handedly ruined several drives with his lackluster play in pass protection.
It would be easy to chalk it up to rust, but Lewan has to figure it out sooner rather than later. He’ll get a good chance to do that on Sunday. Lewan is unlikely to see as much of a single rusher as he did last week with Jones, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have his work cut out for him.
Green and Mayowa may not carry the star power that Jones does, but they are very good players in their own right. Green and Mayowa took turns beating up on Colts left tackle Julie’n Davenport a week ago. They both recorded a sack in Seattle’s Week 1 victory. Overall, Colts quarterback Carson Wentz was sacked three times and hurried/hit on plenty more occasions.
Lewan will see plenty of both Green and Mayowa on Sunday. He better bring his A-game if he doesn’t want to get embarrassed again.
JULIO JONES VS. D.J. REED & TRE FLOWERS
I can’t remember the last time this fan-base was as excited for the debut of a player as they were for Julio Jones. It unfortunately started with a whimper. Jones only managed a measly three catches for 29 yards in his Titans debut. Jones and Ryan Tannehill didn’t get many reps together in July and August, and that lack of chemistry was evident against the Cardinals. These two need to get on the same page sooner rather than later.
Jones, like the entire offense, has to be a lot better against Seattle. Similar to the Lewan matchup we highlighted above, Jones is unlikely to draw one single player in coverage. The Seahawks typically don’t shadow receivers. As the Titans move Jones all over the formation, he should see a healthy amount of both Reed and Flowers. Reed and Flowers combined to give up eight catches on nine targets, per Pro Football Focus. Reed earned a coverage grade of 53.9, and Flowers scored just marginally better with 60.6, per PFF. Jones Don’t get it twisted. Reed and Flowers are good players, but Jones should have an opportunity to bounce back. It’s worth noting that Reed is questionable with a calf injury, but is expected to play.
Jones needs to make a much larger impact on Sunday than he did a week ago.
TITANS DEFENSE VS. RUSSELL WILSON
The Titans didn’t do enough to make Kyler Murray uncomfortable in Week 1. Murray finished the game 21-of-32 for 289 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Murray added 20 rushing yards and another touchdown via five rushes.
Simply put, the Titans didn’t finish plays. Some of that has to be chalked up to Murray’s ability to scramble and create on the move, but the Titans didn’t tackle, or contain well. Murray improvised and made plays happen far too many times.
The bad news? The Titans will see an even better improviser when they take on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson this week. Wilson may be the best quarterback in the league when creating on the fly. If the Titans fail to finish plays against him like they did against Murray last week, they’re in for a world of hurt.