All summer long the Tennessee Titans preached patience with new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. And up until a few weeks ago, the fans’ patience was severely tested.
But after back to back impressive performances from quarterback Marcus Mariota and company, it’s becoming more evident why general manager Jon Robinson elected to blow up a coaching staff that won a playoff game a year ago.
Tennessee’s offense is starting to resemble the modern and creative offense that LaFleur was apart of last season in Los Angeles (Rams), and the results have turned a team on the brink of early season playoff elimination into a team to be reckoned with down the stretch.
And it all started in London.
The second half of that game, LaFleur bit the bullet and (finally) moved running back Dion Lewis into the bell cow role. Lewis turned in a masterful performance on the ground and through the air.
He was also wide open on the failed 2 point conversion attept that could have stolen the game….
But I digress.
Derrick Henry was moved to the back up and short yardage role, and he has been much more valuable to the offense. After a dismal start to the season as the lead man, Henry now has four tds in the last three games as the complimentary back.
Today against the Patriots was a perfect illustration. With Lewis doing the early work on the ground and in the passing game, New England’s defense was worn out and wanted no part of a fresh and hungry Henry in the fourth quarter.
Henry scored with relative ease late in the game after bulldozing a weary Patriots’ defense down the field the entire drive. Reminissent of the glory days of the last two years.Embed from Getty Images
As for the passing game that has really taken off the last two games, it really comes down to two things….
The offensive line is giving Mariota time in the pocket now and the receivers are….get this….catching the ball.
The back-breaking drops that plagued the Titans early in the season are now turning into drive extending completions. Something that aids the run game, time of possession, and a defense that gets to stay on the sidelines.
Mariota was masterful with his arm and legs for the second time in six days, completing 66% of his passes today for 228 yards and 2 tds. He also chipped in 21 yards rushing and 21 yards receiving on the day.
And for the cherry on top, he thoroughly outplayed Tom Brady. Something he can tell his grandchildren one day.
The Titans were 30th in the league in scoring two weeks ago at just 15 points per game. Since then they scored 28 on the Cowboys and their top-ranked scoring defense Monday Night…and hung 34 today on New England’s 11th ranked scoring defense.
If the offense can keep pace with their league-leader in scoring defense, then this could turn out to be a special season for the Titans.
As CBS color commentator Dan Fouts said on the Tennessee’s final possession….”The Titans are using the entire playbook now.”
And that should be music to the ears of the Music City.