Who Ya Got Wednesday: New York Jets vs. Tennessee Titans

rob saleh, jets

In desperate need of a win, the New York Jets do battle with the defending AFC South champions and Corey Davis’ former employers on Sunday.

  • What: Tennessee Titans (2-1) at New York Jets (0-3)
  • Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
  • When: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET
  • Watch: CBS
New York Giants, Corey Davis
Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Geoff Magliocchetti

Never mind the Jets and Titans; the real winner of Sunday’s tilt at MetLife Stadium is anyone blessed with the services of Derrick Henry on their fantasy football team.

Tennessee has recovered from an early slip-up by not only feeding the MVP candidate but giving him the gridiron equivalent of a six-course meal. Over the past two victorious weekends, the Titans put the ball in Henry’s hands a jaw-dropping 72 times, a count that includes a career-high 35 carries in Week 2’s overtime prevailing against Seattle. Shockingly, Henry’s opportunities may only increase against the Jets. Last week’s divisional triumph over the Colts was a costly one, as the Titans’ receiving corps could be missing both A.J. Brown and Julio Jones.

While Henry prevents a literally massive challenge (6-foot-3, 250 pounds), defense hasn’t been the Jets’ problem. The unit has played well with the hands it has been dealt, evidenced by its NFL-best 33 percent touchdown rate in red zone situations (tied with Denver and New Orleans). But, as we saw against Christian McCaffrey and the Carolina Panthers, the Jets’ respectable makeshift unit doesn’t have the firepower or experience to withstand an assault by a superstar player.

At this point, it’d be a mere win for the Jets to merely visit the end zone right now, having gone just over two hours of game time without scoring a touchdown. Tennessee’s issues on defense could allow the Jets to achieve that manageable goal but the prescience of Henry and lack of offensive traction continues to make an addition to the left-hand side of the standings column too much of a tall task.

Titans 26, Jets 10

Dylan Price

Last week felt like a chance for a turnaround. Expectations were low and the Jets had a chance to overachieve. Instead, they found a way to lower the bar yet again.

This week, the Jets take on the Tennessee Titans. The Jets offense was stagnant yet again in Denver and the game-plan has been pitiful the past two weeks. Zach Wilson has to take advantage of all his receivers, not just Corey Davis. The Titans’ secondary gives the Jets a prime opportunity to finally get things rolling. New York’s pass defense, which has been surprisingly good to this point, will have a strong chance to make plays this weekend as A.J. Brown and Julio Jones are out.

The Jets have a chance to win this game, but containing Derrick Henry will be the key to this game. I think they keep it close but ultimately the Jets lose a tight one.

Titans 24, Jets 20

New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Best of the Rest

Magliocchetti Price
Jacksonville @ Cincinnati (Thu.) Bengals Bengals
Carolina @ Dallas Cowboys Panthers
Cleveland @ Minnesota Browns Browns
Detroit @ Chicago Lions Lions
Houston @ Buffalo Bills Bills
Indianapolis @ Miami Dolphins Colts
Kansas City @ Philadelphia Chiefs Chiefs
NY Giants @ New Orleans Saints Saints
Washington @ Atlanta Falcons Football Team
Arizona @ LA Rams Rams Rams
Seattle @ San Francisco 49ers Seahawks
Baltimore @ Denver Ravens Broncos
Pittsburgh @ Green Bay Packers Packers
Tampa Bay @ New England Buccaneers Buccaneers
Las Vegas @ LA Chargers Chargers Chargers
Last Week 9-7 11-5
Overall 29-19 27-21

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets 2021 opponent report: Tennessee Titans

New York Giants, Julio Jones

Tennessee lost several key offensive contributors from its recent postseason runs, including current New York Jets WR Corey Davis.

The Opponent: Tennessee Titans
The Date: Week 4, October 3, 1 p.m. ET, CBS (@ NY)
The Series: Tennessee leads 25-19-1 (last meeting: 2018, 26-22 TEN)

Corey Davis earned 984 yards on 65 receptions for the Tennessee Titans last season. A bout with COVID-19 held the fifth pick of the 2017 draft just short of his first career four-digit yardage season. Davis played a major role in each of Tennessee’s last three playoff trips, two of which have seen them win at least one game.

Somehow, Davis got lost in the Nashville fold, leading Titans management to label him expendable.

The Titans’ return to the national spotlight…only three teams have partaken in more playoff games since 2017…has been driven by the breakouts of several explosive skill players, including Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, Ryan Tannehill, Jonnu Smith, and, of course, Davis. That group…minus Davis and the New England-bound Smith…is now joined by Julio Jones, who is looking to regain his All-Pro reputation after his last season in Atlanta was decimated by injury.

Tennessee will make only its second visit to MetLife Stadium for a Jets game. They last stopped by in December 2015, a 30-8 Jets victory.

The Skinny on the Titans

Following their heartbreaking visit to the AFC title game after the 2019 season, the Titans broke the 10-win ceiling for the first time since 2008, likewise ending their division title drought. Alas, they had nothing to show for it in the postseason, as a first-round exit at the hand of Baltimore awaited.

The Titans’ current landscape and depth could perhaps best be described as top-heavy. Tannehill is backed up by Logan Woodside and Matt Barkley. Henry’s top spell option is Darrynton Evans, a third-round pick who was limited to 54 yards in an injury-plagued rookie year. They’ll once again be must-see television…as long as they stay healthy.

So what’s been the big problem in Tennessee? The Titans have learned the hard way that defense still wins championships. After losing their chance at the Super Bowl by surrendering a two-possession lead in just over five minutes against the Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee ranked at or near the bottom in most major defensive categories. The team did muster 15 interceptions…third-best in the AFC…but one of the leaders, Malcolm Butler, has moved on to Arizona.

Despite their lack of depth, the Titans are likely the unanimous favorite in the reeling AFC South, at least until the Indianapolis Colts find a proven quarterback. Houston has far too much to prove, while it’s going to take a lot more than the arrival of Trevor Lawrence for the Jacksonville Jaguars to become relevant again.

New York Giants, Daniel Jones
Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

What’s New in Tennessee?

In bidding farewell to their offensive depth, the Titans sought to bolster the weak defense. Before Jones arrived late, their marquee addition was former Pittsburgh linebacker Bud Dupree. The ex-Steeler is coming off an ACL tear but was nonetheless bestowed an $82.5 million contract to help solve their issues. Dupree was removed from the physically unable to perform list last week and has begun practicing.

“Anytime you get paid to pass rush, you go ahead and get sacks and make big plays in the run game, be an all-around player,” Dupree said of his role in his new home in a June episode of NFL Network’s Good Morning Football. “You don’t just come in just to be a one-trick pony and just do pass rush. You’ve got to be able to be a tone-setter on the edge, as well, swarming to the ball, stopping the run, evolving your teammates, getting everybody hyped up.”

In addition to Dupree, the Titans also welcomed Denico Autry to bolster the pass rush after three successful years with the Colts. Tennessee also opted to use their top draft pick on defensive help, welcoming Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, who should fill the void Butler left behind.

Though well accomplished…Tannehill has become a reliable starter, Henry is a downright historic, game-changing rusher, Brown and Jones should be a deadly aerial pair…the Titans’ offense has something to prove. Coordinator Arthur Smith earned a head coaching job in Atlanta for his work over the past two seasons, leaving tight ends coach Todd Downing to take over. Downing previously won Pro Football Focus’ Quarterbacks Coach of the Year Award for his work with Derek Carr in Oakland.

New York Giants, Caleb Farley
Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

How to Beat Them

-Jump the Defense

The Titans’ return to the national spotlight is reminiscent of their turn-of-the-century heyday. Back then, they had Steve McNair, Eddie George, and Derrick Mason. Nowadays, it’s Tannehill, Henry, and Brown/Jones pairing.

But there’s a difference: the former group’s offensive fireworks were accentuated by the equally effective defensive work of Jevon Kearse and Samari Rolle.

The Jets’ mission is thus relatively simple in the theory that they must force the Titans’ defense to win the game. By the time Tennessee comes to visit, the Jets will have had three games to build offensive chemistry. That’s obviously not the most experience together, but it can be enough to take advantage of a Tennessee defense that was already dealing with issues. They can’t let the Titans’ offensive arsenal decide the game.

-Take a Passing Interest

What Tannehill has been able to do in Nashville is inspiring and deserves to be recognized. After a seemingly endless streak of proverbial make-or-break seasons in Miami, Tannehill has forged a long-term NFL path as the Titans’ franchise quarterback.

Yet, he can’t fully bear the load of an offensive box score. Since he entered the league in 2012, Tannehill teams are 4-18 when he throws at least 40 passes. The Titans have taken note…only three of those instances have come in Tennessee.

Forcing Tannehill to win the game obviously then leads to containing Henry, the defending Offensive Player of the Year and 2,000-yard rusher. The Jets’ run defense should enjoy a boost from the return of Kyle Phillips, one of the team’s top run defenders during his 2019 debut before injuries ate up his sophomore season. Former Robert Saleh pupil Ronald Blair should likewise help keep the run game grounded, as he was one of San Francisco’s top rush defenders off the edge.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Four plays that determined the Buffalo Bills’ Tuesday night fate vs. Tennessee

Finally allowed to kick off, the Buffalo Bills were on the wrong end of a one-sided loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Empire State football’s propensity for tough-to-watch football finally made its way up to Western New York.

Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill united for six touchdowns, while their Tennessee Titans teammates countered Josh Allen’s two scores with two interceptions. Allen’s Bills were thus doomed to their first loss of the season, falling to Tennessee by a 42-16 final at Nissan Stadium. It was safe to say that the Titans (4-0) took full advantage of the 16 days of rest brought upon by positive tests for COVID-19.

How did the undefeated trek of the Bills (4-1) come to an unceremonious end in the Music City? ESM highlights four plays that shaped Buffalo’s present and future, for better or worse, over a rare Tuesday night excursion…

1st Quarter: A Good Return

Andre Roberts has the initials “WR” next to his name on the official roster, but it’s safe to say that he has made a far bigger name for himself by removing the W and changing the meaning of the R…in other words, he’s a returner. But Tuesday saw Roberts get plenty of snaps on offense, particularly in the early going. Roberts looked out of place on the first drive, as his would-be reception became a tip into the hands of Malcolm Butler, whose interception set up the first Tennessee score of the day.

Roberts, however, made up for the gaffe on Buffalo’s next possession, a rare point in the game where they looked like the Bills of September if only for a short while. Facing 3rd and 15 at the cusp of the Tennessee red zone, an illegal shift penalty nullified a Buffalo touchdown. An Allen rollout, however, found Roberts at the edge of the sidelines, as his tiptoe catch was the last of four third-down conversions the Bills earned on their way to the end zone. Two plays later, Allen hooked up with Isaiah McKenzie to tie the game.

2nd Quarter: PI on the Case

Penalties were a major problem for the Bills on Tuesday. The Bills doubled their average penalty tally from the first four games, drawing ten flags over the course of the evening. While the infractions were mostly minor, the lost yardage reaching 56, the numbers taken turned out to be vital in the long runs.

Buffalo’s most costly penalty came in the late stages of the first half. Corey Bojorquez “saved” the season by following up a three-and-out with a punt that situated the Titans at their own 10. Tennessee, however, embarked on a methodic drive that reached Buffalo territory. Bills penalties on rare Tennessee third downs allowed the drive to stay alive. Josh Norman was called for a seven-yard pass interference at the 35, while Jerry Hughes jumped offside on third-and-four at the 22 (though it was declined after the Titans got the first down anyway). Tannehill could score from 10 yards out after the Hughes infraction to permanently set momentum in the Nashville corner, creating a 21-10 halftime lead.

3rd Quarter: The Butler Did It

Enough can’t be said about the progress Allen has shown in his third season under Buffalo center, but Tuesday showed some troubling flashbacks to his turnover-laden rookie season. Allen wasn’t afraid to take some risks, but some of those proved costly, like an underthrown cross-body pass intended for Gabriel Davis that went right into the hands of Butler, who broke out of an attempt Cole Beasley tackle to take it back to the Buffalo red zone.

From this brutal evening comes a huge opportunity for Allen. This is the first time both he and his team is facing major adversity in his junior season, and the chance to redeem themselves comes against the defending champion Chiefs on Monday. A true test awaits to see just how much he has learned.

4th Quarter: Five From New York

There were no truly dangerous or egregious penalties on the Buffalo end…no ridiculous roughing the passers, no late hits, no spot-of-the-foul pass interference calls that set the Titans up deep in opposing territory. But what the Bills did in their misdemeanors was set Tennessee up with must-win situations that were far more manageable. They put in a touchdown (a 22-yard Allen pass to TJ Yeldon that capped off a 90-yard trek) at the end of the final frame’s first-third, and had a fighting chance down 28-16 as time began to wind down.

Tennessee responded to that score with a strong drive of their own. They reached the Bills’ 29, but there was still a chance to keep things situated at two possessions by forcing a third down. Seven stood between the Bills and more time off the clock…but they were all-too-happy to wipe away a majority of the deficit when A.J. Epenesa invaded the neutral zone. Blessed with a shorter distance, the Titans took advantage with a seven-yard interior run from Jeremy McNichols that more or less decimated Buffalo’s will. Three plays later, a Henry score officially put the game out of reach.

The Bills return to action next Monday night against the Kansas City Chiefs (5 p.m. ET, Fox/NFL Network)

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: New Running Backs Coach Will Bring The Best Out Of Saquon Barkley

New York Giants, Burton Burns, Giants, NYG

The New York Giants have rebuilt their coaching staff this offseason. After firing Pat Shurmur two seasons into his contract, the Giants hired Joe Judge to be their new head coach. Judge won fans over quickly with a passionate introductory press conference. Since then, fans have been keeping a close eye on Judge’s staff as he goes through and hires his assistant coaches.

The hiring of offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was met with mixed reviews. The former Dallas Cowboys head coach received much criticism during his time in Dallas, but there are reasons for fans to be optimistic. Garrett coached numerous top-ten offenses and has the experience that Judge and most of the rest of the staff lacks. Regardless of what the consensus on Garrett might be, there is one assistant coach hiring that no one should complain about.

Joe Judge hit a home run hiring his running backs coach. Burton Burns, former Alabama University running backs coach, was appointed to fill the same role with the New York Giants.

Burton Burns’s Resumé

The New York Giants’ new running backs coach has been an assistant coach since 1981. He has never coached in the NFL, only the collegiate level. However, Burton Burns has a fantastic track record developing young running backs in college.

Burton Burns is credited with the development of numerous star running backs from Alabama. In fact, Burns has coached three Heisman-Finalist running backs: Mark Ingram (2009), Trent Richardson (2011), and Derrick Henry (2015). Ingram and Henry were both recipients of the award.

Upon hearing the news of the Giants’ recent hiring of Burton Burns, Ingram and Henry excitedly gave ringing endorsements of Burton to Giants’ running back Saquon Barkley via social media. Henry called Burton Burns “the best” on Instagram, and Ingram referred to him as “the best coach” he ever had.

Burton Burns will be the man to elevate Saquon Barkley’s game. After a disappointing 2019 season, 2020 should be a strong bounce-back season for the Giants’ star running back. Barkley saw a decline in production this past season.

Granted, Saquon Barkley dealt with an injury in 2019, but he still was a less-efficient back when healthy. His rushing yards per attempt fell from 5.0 to 4.6, and his yards per game fell from 81.7 to 77.2. Many attribute Saquon and the rest of the team’s reduced level of play to the former coaching staff. Well, with Burton Burns on board, there will be no such excuse for Saquon in 2020.