To borrow the team’s own slogan, a lot of things have to Titan Up for Tennessee after the team ended a lackluster preseason Thursday night with a 30-6 shellacking at Kansas City.
The loss left the Titans with a 1-3 preseason record. And while preseason results are no reason to panic, and the final preseason game has the least impact of any of those contests, the Titans’ being vastly outplayed in all three losses cannot be completely ignored.
There are issues in all three phases of the game that the Titans have to improve upon before their Sept. 10 opener against the Oakland Raiders.
After hinting early in the week that his starters could play a series or two at Kansas City, Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey instead sat most of the Titans’ front line players in the loss to the Chiefs.
Marcus Mariota, DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry and the starting offensive line all got the night off for Tennessee. The first-team defense was idle as well.
For what it was worth, the second and third-teamers for the Titans again struggled with some of the same issues that have plagued the team throughout much of the preseason.
The offense was unable to push the ball into the end zone or mount many sustained drives. The Titans had only a pair of field goals from Ryan Succop to show for their work Thursday night.
Defensively, the Titans continued to give up big plays through the passing game – something that has been a concern in three of the four preseason games. Chiefs rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes, their first-round pick, hit on 9 of 16 passes, including two touchdown passes. Mahomes had a 2-yard TD toss to Gavin Escobar and a 28-yard touchdown throw to Demarcus Robinson. In the fourth quarter, fourth-string QB Joel Stave hit Tevin Jones with a 68-yard touchdown pass to finish off the Chiefs’ scoring.
There was also a special teams breakdown for the Titans as well, for the second straight week. After allowing a blocked punt for a safety last week against Chicago, the Chiefs got their first touchdown of the game courtesy of a 76-yard punt return by Kansas City rookie Jehu Chesson.
As for the bright spots for the Titans, David Fluellen, getting the majority of the carries with Murray and Henry sitting out, rushed for 74 yards on 19 carries. Fluellen has pushed hard for a roster spot the past few weeks in preseason. Rookie tight end Jonnu Smith had two catches for 25 yards, including a 20-yard gain on Tennessee’s first scoring drive. Defensively, rookies Jayon Brown and Adoree’ Jackson both had near interceptions, while second-year pro Kevin Dodd had a fumble recovery for Tennessee.
The Titans now begin the process of making roster cuts. A number of those will likely be made Friday with the remainder coming Saturday before the 3 p.m. deadline.