This is not your father’s smash mouth football team…
The Tennessee Titans (2-1) put together back to back dominant performances on offense after their 33-27 victory over the Seattle Seahawks (1-2) Sunday afternoon at Nissan Stadium.
After scoring 16 points in their opening loss to Oakland the Titans have rattled off 70 points in consecutive victories, and did so while staying true to their identity.
When Mike Mularkey had the interim tag removed last January people rolled their eyes when he unveiled his plans for Tennessee to play exotic smash football….especially in a league that now promotes and makes it easier to throw the ball all over the field.
Mukarkey, a former player, is a throwback coach. And smash mouth football that’s predicated on a physical rushing attack seems outdated to today’s stat-driven fantasy football fan.
And while the Titans certainly play a physical brand of football, they are bucking the conventional wisdom that suggests that smash mouth football is nothing more than the “three yards and a cloud of dust” of decades past.
Tennessee is currently 5th in scoring offense (28.7) and 5th in total offense (386 yards per game), an impressive feat given the fact that two of their three games were against Jacksonville’s and Seattle’s defenses.
Two defenses that pride themselves on bullying their opponents with their own brand of physical play.
The Titans have the league’s 2nd best rushing attack after three games, averaging just over 156 yards per game.
And it’s been a total team effort.
Four players are currently averaging at least five yards per carry (DeMarco Murray – 5.3, Derrick Henry – 5.2, David Fluellen – 6.0, Taywan Taylor – 5.0) Quarterback Marcus Mariota is just off the pace at 4.8 yards per attempt.
The Titans are one of only three teams to average 5 yards or more per carry (Kansas City, Chicago), and they’ve done so with 20 more rushing attempts than either team.
The commitment to the run is paying off on the score board, especially in the second half.
Tennessee outscored Jacksonville and Seattle 55-33 in the second half, and 23 of the points allowed came in garbage time with the outcome already decided.
The Titans wore both teams down with a steady dose of smash mouth football, causing the defenses to get desperate and take chances. The offense turned those missteps into big plays in the run and pass game.
Tennessee scored seven second half touchdowns in those contests, and four came outside of the red zone on plays of 24, 32, 55, and 75 yards.
Derrick Henry barrelled over a tired Jags defense late in the third quarter for a 17 yard touchdown run last week in Jacksonville.
What was once deemed as outdated has now become one of the most potent offenses in the league.
Welcome to today’s exotic smash mouth football attack.