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VOL. 45 | NO. 49 | Friday, December 3, 2021

What Titans must fix in bye week

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As the Titans finally reach their bye week, they do so having played a record number of players through 12 games this season. Four new players suited up for the first time against New England, bringing the players-used total for the year to 86 with five games remaining.

So let’s use the four downs to evaluate what has to improve for the stretch run.

First down

Get as healthy as possible. Who knows what injured players might return to action and what players won’t be available. Anyone the Titans can get back into the fold that can contribute will certainly be a welcome addition. If it happens to be a front-line player like A.J. Brown, Julio Jones or Derrick Henry, then all the better for the Titans. But right now, anyone able to return is welcome.

Second down

Find the pass rush. Since Henry’s injury, the Titans have had mixed results, going 2-2. They won with a strong defense affecting the opposing quarterback and creating turnovers and sacks. But the takeaways have dried up, and have been replaced by giveaways.

The Titans don’t have much capability of explosiveness on offense without their major weapons. So that means the defense has to step up and make the types of plays they did against the Rams and Saints to keep this team afloat in the stretch run.

Third down

Take care of the ball. Nine turnovers in the past two weeks is a formula for disaster, and it played out in losses to the Texans and Patriots. The Titans have to have steadier play at quarterback position than Ryan Tannehill has had the past two games. They finally got some big runs Sunday, the type that had been missing since Henry went down, but two costly fumbles negated a big part of that.

Fourth down

Get a big play on special teams. It has been a while since the Titans special teams have made a play that turned a game around. With both the offense and defense ailing due to injuries, the special teams needs to contribute something other than missed kicks and penalties in order to give the Titans a much-needed spark.

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