The Tennessee Titans’ run game should never look as bad as it did in the team’s Week 2 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Derrick Henry – the most feared back in the NFL – was held to just 25 yards on 13 carries in a losing effort, though he did find the endzone once.
Assigning blame for the Titans’ struggles on the ground isn’t as easy as just pointing to offensive coordinator Todd Downing.
While Downing has absolutely played a large part in the offense’s ineptitude, the Titans currently have the league’s 24th-ranked rushing attack. This comes after finishing fifth in rushing last season.
How does a team go from one of the best rushing offenses in the league – while missing Henry for eight games – to a bottom-third unit over one offseason?
Most big plays through Week 2: pic.twitter.com/4XWlLnzDSm— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) September 22, 2022
Downing’s offense lacks explosiveness. The Titans have just one rush of at least 10 yards on the season. That came from Henry in Week 1 against a mediocre Giants run defense.
There has certainly been growing pains along the team’s new-look offensive line. Inexperience and inconsistency has plagued the Titans’ offensive line, and with starting LT Taylor Lewan feared to be out for the season these issues will continue to pop up.
Downing’s biggest crux as the Titans’ play caller has been his commitment to an ineffective toss play. At six-foot-three and nearly 250 pounds, Henry’s forward momentum is what makes him so difficult for defenses to bring down.
With Henry moving laterally to catch the pitch from QB Ryan Tannehill, all of his forward momentum is nullified.
I'm about to burst a blood vessel if Todd Downing calls another Derrick Henry toss sweep. #Titans— Austin Stanley (@AustinStanley81) September 20, 2022
Downing must ditch the pitch, especially with a backup filling in for Lewan on the left side and rookie Nicholas Petit-Freire holding it down at right tackle.
The Raiders will bring a run defense that ranks in the middle of the pack of the NFL through the first two weeks of the season.
Downing will have to dive deep into his play sheet to find a way to restore the identity of this once-feared Titans run game.
Featured image via George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK