This just in….Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans’ offensive line has been playing lights-out football the last three weeks. Three critical must-win weeks that has them one win away from back to back playoff berths.
But can they reach down in their late season bag of tricks one more time? Against a formidable defense that is top ten against the run?
For those with a rooting interest….you better hope so.
For starters, as the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
The Titans have shown no resemblance to the team that stumbled to a 5-6 start, and it’s not just Henry, but the team’s commitment to Henry that sparked their turnaround.
In wins over Jacksonville, the New York Giants, and the Washington Redskins, Tennessee rushed the ball 104 times. Henry, who has always been a volume back, has cashed in with 71 of those attempts for just under 500 yards rushing (and 7 tds) in that span.
Tennessee’s best chance to notch their first win over Andrew Luck is to keep him off the field. And you do that by running the ball and chewing up clock.
Indianapolis has the league’s 6th best scoring offense (26.7), but more importantly, they are also 6th in the league in first downs. Meaning they prefer to grind you down and chew up clock themselves.
Minimizing Luck’s opportunities could force them to become impatient and deviate from that plan, would could lead to increased opportunities for sacks and turnovers.
Also, while quarterback Marcus Mariota has shown to be capable of delivering in big games, becoming impatient on offense themselves and engaging in an areal war with Indy should be avoided at all costs.
As of this release, Mariota’s status for Sunday’s game is uncertain. Although most insiders believe he will play.
If he does, then Mariota will need to be protected by a solid run game and offensive line that has provided a cleaner pocket the last three games.
Henry’s recent dominance has resulted in fewer obvious passing down situations, which has resulted in fewer hits on the quarterback.
The Titans were allowing a horrid three sacks per game the first 12 games of the season while the run game sputtered. In the last three games they’ve allowed just five combined.
Marcus Mariota has been responsible for some of the team’s biggest victories the last four seasons….
Sunday night is Henry and the o’line’s turn.