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Titans run defense starting to turn corner

Syndication: The Tennessean Armond Feffer, IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Tennessee Titans held the Washington Commanders to 43 net rushing yards in Sunday’s victory. Starting running back Antonio Gibson was held to six yards on three carries. Rookie ball-carrier Brian Robinson Jr. made his much-awaited season debut, but was relatively quiet, totaling just 22 yards on nine carries. Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz averaged a team-high 3.0 yards per carry. The Commanders gained 43 total yards on 17 carries (2.5 yards per carry).

It was the continuation of the performance Tennessee’s run defense displayed in last Sunday’s road victory over their AFC South rival Indianapolis Colts. The Colts’ rushing offense gained just 38 net yards via the ground game. Reigning rushing champion Jonathan Taylor was limited to 42 yards on 20 carries (2.1 yards per carry).

Over the previous two contests, Tennessee’s run defense has held their opponents to 81 total rushing yards on 40 attempts! That’s 2.025 yards per carry. Tennessee’s run defense now ranks eighth in the league, allowing opponents to gain 103.2 rushing yards per contest. It’s beginning to look like the 2021 iteration that allowed 84.6 yards per contest.

It’s represented a turnaround after Tennessee’s run defense was uncharacteristic in Weeks 1-3. New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley torched the Titans for 164 yards and a touchdown via 18 carries (9.1 yards per carry). They allowed explosive plays. Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs averaged 5.1 yards per carry in Week 3. The Titans were fortunate the Raiders inexcusably abandoned the run.

Tennessee’s run defense is rounding into form. They roster the necessary talent across their defensive line, at EDGE and inside linebacker to continue performing like one of the league’s stingiest run defenses. They’ll need another massive performance from all parties involved against the Colts in Week 7 following this weekend’s bye.