The 2-8 Tennessee Titans traveled to Philadelphia to take on the 7-3 Eagles Sunday in their third match-up against the NFC East. They will face the New York Giants in Week 14 to close out the series. The Titans were 0-2 in this series having lost to Dallas and Washington. They now sit 0-3 in the series courtesy of a 24-43 loss at the Linc. We bring you our Titans at Eagles recap.
It never bodes well when a team gives up a special teams touchdown on the first play of the game and that’s what the Titans did. It was a dreadful first quarter as the Titans were unable to get anything going offensively. They went three and out on four straight offensive series. It was 17-0 before the Titans finally got on the board at the start of the second quarter when rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger threw a touchdown pass to wideout Justin Hunter.
Mettenberger put up glorious stats going 20 of 39 for 345 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also fumbled the ball but the Titans recovered it. In all the Titans turned the ball over three times with Bishop Sankey and Brian Schwenke also losing fumbles. The Eagles scored 10 points off Titans turnovers in addition to the touchdown given up on special teams. That’s 17 points off of turnovers and special team mistakes.
There is a lot to like about Mettenberger but he remains a work in progress. Obviously he isn’t the most mobile of guys and he took five sacks Sunday for a loss of 46 yards. Despite the numbers, he was erratic at times and overthrew some passes to his wide receivers. He finished with a completion percentage of 51.3 and a quarterback rating of 88.1. The Justin Hunter touchdown came on a tipped pass that Hunter was lucky enough to snag and take into the endzone.
Mettenberger fits Whisenhunt’s profile and it’s clear he is his handpicked guy. Unless a major meltdown, or an injury, occurs there is no reason why he shouldn’t get a chance to prove himself one more year. There is still a lot of work to be done but you have to like the mental toughness and ability to shake off bad plays. The Titans offense simply isn’t very good and he is being asked to throw the ball a lot. The numbers are a bit inflated due to the Titans unwillingness and at times inability to commit to any sort of run game.
Through five games, Mettenberger has gone 80 of 136 for 1103 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions. He has a 58.8 completion percentage and a quarterback rating of 86.7. Those numbers put him close to Jake Locker with Charlie Whitehurst now owning the best overall quarterback stats on the team.
The run game remains about the same with the Titans having some success but getting down early on and fighting to play catch up means they commit to it even less. On some levels you understand this strategy but the truth is that the run game won’t develop on it’s own. You have to remain committed to it to make it work. The Titans simply don’t and prefer to ride Mettenberger’s arm to what has been thus far a losing cause. A good run game is a huge benefit to a young quaterback and the Titans haven’t given Mettenberger one yet.
It was expected the struggling Titans defense would have it’s hands full with the Philadelphia high octane offense and that proved to be the case. If you take away the special teams score and discount for the 10 points given away due to turnovers the Titans defense gave up 26 points. That alone isn’t bad considering how many points the Eagles are putting up this year.
Obviously there are other variables here and Tennessee did score it’s first touchdown off a Mark Sanchez interception. A second Sanchez interception was all for naught when Bishop Sankey coughed the ball up on the first play in the ensuing drive.
Further, the Titans offense scored 24 points on the possessions they held and if only one of those scores turned into points the outcome could have been different. The defense isn’t good enough to win games on its own and it’s certainly not good enough to make up for the offense turning the ball over three times plus a special teams score.
It also doesn’t help that the Titans defense missed a lot of tackles Sunday. In that one game alone the Titans missed 19 tackles. On the year, they have missed a grand total of 88 tackles. They sacked Mark Sanchez twice and generally did not put much pressure on him. Given the Eagles uptempo no huddle offense this isn’t a big surprise.
The Titans run defense remains a huge concern which we looked at prior to this game. Going into the Eagles game, the Titans owned the league’s second worst run defense. After giving up 164 rushing yards to the Eagles, the Titans comfortably sit in last place now in run defense. It’s not hard to imagine them soon owning the league’s worst run offense as well.
We have cautioned regarding the special teams units which have been almost as dreadful as the Titans defense and indeed they finally gave up the touchdown return we have been dreading. The Titans remain bad on punt returns as well though they have improved on kickoff returns. Field position has been much better overall lately.
Finally, injuries took their toll Sunday as the Titans lost left tackle Taylor Lewan and center Brian Schwenke to leg injuries. Lewan has a sprained foot while Schwenke has a left knee injury. Linebacker Kam Wimbley has a hamstring pull and could be lost for the season. Free safety Mike Griffin left with a shoulder injury but returned. Finally, it was reported Bishop Sankey had a concussion but that has now been changed to a stinger. Dexter McCluster is in the concussion protocol and will need to be cleared before he can play.
We will have more informatoin on Titans injuries when the Wednesday practice report comes around. The Titans will travel to Houston Sunday to take on the Texans who are dealiing with their own injuries. The Ryan Mallett era was short lived as he played through a torn pectoral muscle Sunday and is now out for the season. The Texans however should get Arian Foster back for this game.