Amidst the chaos of their 33-30 overtime win over Seattle, which included a litany of dumb penalties and bad coverage, the 2021 Tennessee Titans showed that they’re not a whole lot different than they were in 2020.
That’s both a good thing and a bad thing.
The 2020 Titans were one of the most successful teams in the NFL, winning 11 games and earning a trip to the playoffs as AFC South champions.
That team had a major weakness, though, and it popped back up on Sunday: the defense.
Tennessee’s defense had several major breakdowns in coverage against the Seahawks that led to big-time plays for QB Russell Wilson and company, most notably an easy 68-yard touchdown to Freddie Swain
The unit also continued its unfortunate trend of playing soft, off coverage on key third downs.
On the other hand, the 2021 Titans seem to have carried over a major strength of the 2020 team: a high-flying offense.
I’ve watched Derrick Henry for his whole career and covered him since 2018. He still never ceases to amaze me.
When the #Titans needed him most today, he delivered this statline: 35 carries, 182 yards, 5.2 YPC, 3 TD.
— Luke Worsham (@luke_worsham) September 20, 2021
If not for several uncharacteristic drops by WR A.J. Brown, the Titans would’ve scored even more than the 33 points they put up against a talented Seahawks team.
WR Julio Jones was on fire, proving he still has plenty of gas left in the tank with a six-catch, 128-yard performance. QB Ryan Tannehill remains the same assassin he’s been since 2019; he threw for 347 yards and made an abundance of impressive throws.
And Derrick Henry? He’s still unbelievable.
Henry rebounded from his poor Week One performance on Sunday, rushing for 182 yards and three touchdowns.
Bearing a fair amount of similarities to the 2020 Titans isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the 2021 edition of the team. Again, the 2020 team was very successful and managed a boatload of quality, impressive wins.
There’s also hope for improvement, as the defense finally began to show signs of life in the fourth quarter and overtime against the Seahawks and helped the team stay afloat.
When safety Amani Hooker returns from injury, that unit could take a giant leap forward.
The 2021 Titans aren’t crumbling. They won’t be an unmitigated disaster, as their terrible Week One performance may have seemed to indicate.
They bear many of the same hallmarks as last year’s squad but also have the time and talent to improve on key weaknesses.
Cover image: George Walker IV/The Tennessean