Titans at Jaguars: What to watch

Friday, September 21, 2018, Vol. 42, No. 38
By Terry McCormick

Titans at Jaguars

Sunday, Sept. 23, Noon

TV: CBS (WTVF, Channel 5)

Radio: 104.5 FM

1. The Titans quarterback situation. The Titans pulled a lot of tricks last week against Houston, and they will have an even bigger challenge this week on the road against Jacksonville. Marcus Mariota has had some good games against the Jaguars in the past, but the numbness in his throwing arm could linger, especially if there is nerve damage in the elbow. Blaine Gabbert was OK as a game manager against the Texans, but the Jaguars’ defense presents a major obstacle, no matter which QB is under center. Jacksonville defeated New England 31-20 last week to move to 2-0.

2. Titans’ offensive line. Tennessee survived with Kevin Pamphile and Tyler Marz playing the tackle spots, but they would dearly love to get Taylor Lewan and either Dennis Kelly or (less likely) Jack Conklin back in action with a key division road game on the horizon.

3. Pressuring Blake Bortles. The Titans’ previous defensive regime, led by Dick LeBeau, always seemed to frustrate Bortles and push him to make mistakes. Dean Pees no doubt would like to do the same thing. Rookie Harold Landry looked good in his debut last week, and Derrick Morgan was more active in week two than week one. Their presence, plus Brian Orakpo and newcomer Kamalei Correa, who has two sacks in two games, can help the Titans rattle Bortles.

Matchups to watch

Jalen Ramsey vs. Corey Davis

Ramsey, a Nashville native, is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL right now. He probably would have been assigned Delanie Walker for a good part of the game, if Walker hadn’t broken his ankle. If the Jaguars want him to focus on one guy, it could be Davis, who seems to be improving and growing slowly but surely. The Titans need Davis’ maturation process to speed up, especially with Walker gone. Ramsey will provide a big test.

Wesley Woodyard vs. Leonard Fournette

That the Jaguars took down the Patriots with Fournette on the shelf is impressive. The Titans’ run defense has been a staple of the team the past few years, and presuming Fournette is recovered enough from his hamstring injury to play, Woodyard and the rest of the Titans’ run defense will have to find a way to slow him down and put the game in Bortles’ hands.