Titans running back Derrick Henry tries to break a tackle vs. the Steelers on TNF in Pittsburgh.
Photo: Gene J. Puskar / AP
The Titans were back in their navy blue and white jerseys after Oilers week, and failed to bring that same magic with them to Pittsburgh on short rest, losing 20-16 to the Steelers on Thursday Night Football to kick off week 9. While it is a stinging loss, and one that could very well prevent a playoff trip, the future looks bright in Nashville.
The biggest observation is the emergence of a franchise QB in Will Levis. Despite failing to throw a touchdown a week after he threw 4, Levis’ athletic ability and arm strength was put on display for the whole country. He made throws that no Tennessee QB has been able to do in a while, and that gives Titans Nation much needed hope for the future. Treylon Burks suffered a head injury late in the game, and is in concussion protocol as of right now. It has been a tough season for the second year player out of Arkansas, dealing with multiple injuries. Hopefully he can heal up and come back and get involved again. Another thing to note was the emergence of Kyle Phillps. He has shown when he has been healthy and gotten opportunities how good of a weapon he can be out of the slot. Phillps showcased that ability, leading Tennessee in receiving yards. With Burks out, he could help out in a big way. The biggest issue with the offense is still the o-line. They gave up 4 sacks, 10 QB hits, and it seemed like Levis was under pressure constantly. Another thing to note is the lack of explosiveness in the rushing attack. The longest run of the night was 15 from Derrick Henry, and they just can’t seem to get going. I would like to see more Tyjae Spears involved as he has been their most explosive player when he gets a chance, which hasn’t happened much. The defense was quite good, giving up just 20 points, and just 160 passing yards. The 166 rushing yards is somewhat concerning, as the Titans are known for great run defense, but with the way they played, keeping them in the game all night, you can’t complain.
Stats and Fantasy
Will Levis: 22/39, 262 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 1 carry, 2 yards, 9.68 fantasy pts
Derrick Henry: 17 carries, 75 yards, 1 TD, 3 catches, 27 yards, 19.20 fantasy pts
DeAndre Hopkins: 4 catches, 60 yards, long of 29, 10.50 fantasy pts
Kyle Phillps: 4 catches, 68 yards, long of 24, 10.80 fantasy pts
Nick Folk: 3/3 FG, 1/1 PAT, long of 48, 10.00 fantasy pts
There isn’t much I have to say for this segment. I would stay away from Phillps, as this was his first good game, and the offense is so inconsistent that who knows if he even gets a target next week. Nick Folk however, has been money all year and continues to get over projected every week, which if he’s available definitely pick him up.
While the loss stings, and is a setback on a year that could have been different, the emergence of Levis is a huge positive, and he should continue to get as many looks as possible this year, whether the ship is righted or not. Next week he looks to have a better game than this Thursday, as the boys travel to Tampa to take on the Bucs in search of their first road win. Until then, #TitanUp.