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Titans offense wastes standout effort from defensive underdogs

Tennessee’s backup defensive players rose to the occasion on Sunday, but the offense couldn’t do the same

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Chargers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans wasted a standout defensive performance from several backups and reserve players against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Already down the likes of Denico Autry, Kristian Fulton, Amani Hooker, Elijah Molden, David Long Jr. and Zach Cunningham, Several additional Titans exited Sunday’s loss to the Chargers. That list included the likes of Terrance Mitchell, Andrew Adams (momentarily), Josh Thompson and Dylan Cole.

The reserves stepped up. DeMarcus Walker recorded 2.0 sacks and has now totaled 6.5 quarterback takedowns this season. Rookie cornerback Roger McCreary made an incredible heads-up play near the conclusion of the second quarter that prevented the Chargers from scoring an easy three points. A leaping McCreary lobbed the ball back into the field of play from the sidelines into the waiting hands of Joshua Kalu, who showcased terrific hand-eye coordination to secure his first career interception.

But Tennessee’s offense ultimately wasted their defensive efforts. It was a familiar sight for an offense that’s lacked NFL-level play all season long. Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill is more a victim of his XFL-like supporting cast than he is a contributor.

The Titans went 3-of-11 (27.2%) on third down attempts. Turnstile offensive line play and receivers that struggle to gain separation continue to hamstring Tennessee’s offense. The Titans gained under 300 net yards of offense (284) and punted on seven occasions. Tannehill was sacked four times. Tennessee’s three worst offensive linemen (Dennis Daley, Nicholas Petit-Frere and Aaron Brewer) took turns giving up backbreaking sacks in crucial moments. Again, it all looked very familiar.

Offensive coordinator Todd Downing removed Derrick Henry on two third-and-shorts. The Titans lined up in shotgun and essentially tipped pass. They failed to convert and move the chains on both occasions, leading to ensuing punts.

Losers of four consecutive contests, the 7-7 Titans are freefalling. Titans fans rather ignore the possibility, but the Jacksonville Jaguars are legitimately capable of winning the AFC South. Tennessee’s offense needs a full reset in the offseason.