Jim Wyatt, SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Six things standing out for the Titans after Sunday’s win over the Eagles, and heading into this week’s game against the Bills.
Marcus Mariota played with emotion on Sunday. After an early run, he jumped up and jawed with an Eagle. It was perhaps an early sign the quarterback has his swagger back. Mariota helped the team gut out a big win at Jacksonville in Week 3, but he did it working with a limited game plan because of limitations with an injury. Well, Mariota looked like himself against the Eagles. He threw the deep ball well, and he was accurate, completing 15 straight passes at one point. It’s a good sign moving forward for the Titans.
I’ve written about coach Mike Vrabel’s guts in the space in the past. He went for it on fourth down in the opener in Miami near the end zone, and he did it again deep in Tennessee territory a week later against the Texans. He’s called a fake punt, and proven to be an outside-the-box thinker. But Vrabel’s all-or-nothing approach went to another level against the Eagles when he opted to go for it on 4th down rather than kicking a field goal late to tie it. His players loved it, and judging from my mentions on Twitter, so do the fans. I don’t get the sense he’s going to get conservative any time soon.
The Elusive Lewis
Titans running back Derrick Henry has been slow out of the gate, with just 163 yards through four games. And while running back Dion Lewis hasn’t busted out himself running the ball after taking handoffs (43 carries, 143 yards), he’s made a big difference catching the ball out of the backfield. With 18 catches, Lewis is on track to catch 72 balls this season. He’s done a great job turning something into nothing on a lot of plays. And you can’t help but get the feeling he’s on the verge of making a really big play.
Titans punter Brett Kern is coming off a Pro Bowl season, and once again he’s making a big impact this year. Kern is averaging 48.7 yards through the first quarter of the season, with a 42.8-yard net. He’s already pinned 10 punts down inside the 20, including one that went out of bounds at the 3 against the Eagles. Vrabel praised Kern for making what he called a “touchdown saving” tackle against the Eagles at a critical time. Kern heads back home this week to face the Bills.
Young Edge Rushers
Rookie edge rusher Harold Landry looked like he was shot out of a cannon when sacking Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz on Sunday. And the more he plays, the more he impresses me. But Landry had company in the backfield on Sunday, with undrafted rookie Sharif Finch also getting on the action. While veterans Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan are still looking for their first QB sacks, Landry, Finch and Kamalei Correa (2 sacks in 3 games) have provided a boost.
There’s no way I could make it through this without mentioning receiver Corey Davis, who took his game to another level against the Eagles. Davis went up and caught footballs, and he raced past defenders as well. His confidence looks to be at an all-time high, and it should. Davis is on track to finish with a whopping 88 catches for 1,248 yards. He’s capable of changing games on consistent basis. Now, if he could figure out a way to keep guard Quinton Spain from throwing his souvenir footballs into the stands.