The Tennessee Titans’ starting office is looking to build on the momentum of their hot start in last Thursday’s preseason opener. Their starting defense is looking to recapture theirs after they laid an egg.
Both can accomplish what they seek when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two days of joint practice ahead of their week 2 preseason game Saturday night at Nissan Stadium.
There was nothing offensive about Tennessee’s starting offense last week against the Green Bay Packers. Quarterback Marcus Mariota and Company marched right down the field to secure their first touchdown under new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur.
And they made it look easy.
So what better way to build upon that confidence than to scrimmage against a Bucs’ defense that finished dead last against the pass in 2017, and dead last in total yards allowed.
While last year’s stats are certainly no indication of what this year’s defense will look like in Tampa, it’s safe to assume that Tennessee’s young and unproven wide receivers should (at least in theory) fare much better against the Bucs’ secondary than their own.
The Titans’ secondary is better from an overall talent perspective, and to make matters worse, they now have a sense of what their own receivers are trying to do after practicing against them for over two weeks.
On the defensive side of the ball…it’s no secret that the starting unit, which includes the star-studded secondary now known as MMCNB (My Man Catch No Balls) would like a do-over after their shaky performance in last week’s preseason opener.
The unit made backup qb Brett Hundley look like the second coming of Aaron Rodgers after he matched Mariota’s opening scoring drive with a relatively easy one of his own.
Unlike their offensive counterparts, however, the defense (and secondary in particular) has been heralded as the unquestioned strength of this team. And what better way to sharpen their own iron than to practice against a potent Bucs’ passing attack that finished 4th in the league in that category last year.
Only the Los Angeles Chargers (Philip Rivers), New England Patriots (Tom Brady), and Pittsburgh Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger) amassed more yards through the air in 2017.
That’s three first-ballot Hall of Fame qb’s ladies and gentlemen….but I digress.
As much as Titans fans love Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews, few receiving duos in the league causes defenses more headaches than Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson.
Evans is big and physical, and Jackson can still blow the top off a defense with his electrifying speed….even at his advanced age.
Tampa Bay also has a pair of receiving threat tight ends in Cameron Brate and second year stud O.J. Howard. The two combined for 74 catches, 1023 yards, and 12 touchdowns, with each notching six in 2017.
That’s the kind of resume that would light a fire under a defense and secondary that aspires to be the league’s best by year’s end.
Both units draw the perfect sparring partner for joint practice scrimmages over the next two days. We’ll find out on Saturday night if it was worth their time.