It was a largely forgettable game in Nashville Sunday as the 3-4 Houston Texans came to town to take on the lumbering 2-5 Tennessee Titans. At one time the Titans owned this rivalry but those days are long gone. The Titans are still searching for quality wins as they lose this one 30-16. They have now turned to their third quarterback of the season so we bring you our Texans at Titans recap featuring a healthy dose of new rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
The Titans moved up in the draft to take the former LSU quarterback in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL draft, giving up their sixth- and seventh-round picks (Nos. 186, 228) to take Washington’s 178 spot. Mettenberger has a big arm and plenty of talent but fell in the draft due to an ACL injury and off the field concerns including a sexual assault charge for which he plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge.
At 6′ 5″ and 244 pounds, Mettenberger has the size you want in a pocket passer which is head coach Ken Whisenhunt’s personal brand of tea. In his first start as a Titan, the Mett Show went 27-41 for 299 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception and a fumble. He was also sacked two times for a loss of nine yards both by Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt.
Overall, Mettenberger gets positive grades and one of the things that stood out for me was his pocket presence and his ability to scan the field and look for an open receiver. The Titans helped him out early on by running the ball and relying on short passes to help him get into a rhythm.
The numbers look good on paper but Mettenberger benefited from some defensive choices by the Texans. Mettenberger had good success on checkdowns particularly to Leon Washington who the Texans left open and seemed content to defend just short of the first yard line. Perhaps this was deliberately schemed as the Texans were successful and the Titans punted after every one of those plays.
Also, there were a few plays were Mettenberger got lucky and the defender missed getting an interception. On one drive in particular later in the game there were at least 4 throws where Mettenberger was lucky not to get picked. He overthrew several wide receivers as well.
The majority of Mettenberger’s numbers and stats came in the second half after the game was largely out of the way. The Texans played prevent defense most of the half and seemed willing to allow plays in front of them. Mettenberger’s first touchdown pass came late in the 3rd quarter when the Texans were up 27-3. Unfortunately, the touchdown was overshadowed by the horrible two point conversion attempt that followed.
Mettenberger’s second touchdown came late in the game with 1:02 left on the clock. The Titans were running a ton of no huddle which was very helpful and the Texans were in prevent. Still, this was a nice play by Mettenberger to Hunter who took it in virtually untouched.
All in all, the good outweighed the bad in Mettenberger’s first start. You like the pocket presence and the ability to get rid of the ball quickly. The game also didn’t seem too big for him in his first start and while “moxie” might be overrated it is still a good quality to see in a young quarterback.
On the defensive side of the football outside of the five sacks there wasn’t much to write home about. The Titans pressured Fitzpatrick but he didn’t make very many mistakes. They also allowed Arian Foster to run wild on them. He finished with 20 carries for 151 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a long run of 43 yards and added 22 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown.
I was concerned about Blidi Wreh-Wilson covering DeAndre Hopkins and indeed he had a nice game with 5 receptions for 95 yards. Wilson is a developing young player and he did make some nice plays Sunday but he also gave up a pass interference penalty on the first target to Hopkins. The Titans lead the league in pass interference calls at 9 and Wilson leads the league with 6 of them.
Special teams has been an issue so it was good to see this punt return by Dexter McCluster to start the first offensive series for the Titans.
Otherwise, there wasn’t much to write home about here either. At least the were no major mistakes so perhaps we are seeing some progress there.
Playcalling has been an issue this season and the failed two point conversion perfectly sums it up. The Titans also remain terrible at challenges as evidenced by this one. The difference between the play and a challenge? A 2nd and 2 versus a 2nd and 10 on the Texans first offensive series in the second quarter. The Titans were leading 0-3 at the time.
The Titans are on a bye week in Week 9 but we will continue our quarterly grade series so stay tuned in for more on Titans coverage.
You can find the complete gamebook below.