NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Last Sunday at NRG Stadium in an AFC South divisional game against the Houston Texans (2-2), the Tennessee Titans (2-2) were outscored 57-14. Houston’s 57 points were a franchise scoring record.
Titans stalwart defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, in his usual Thursday media availability took his lumps in stride.
“I was kind of hoping you guys might call in sick today,” joked the 80-year-old LeBeau as the media began to circle him.
“That’s not us,” LeBeau said. “And we’re going to prove that’s not us. That is not us. We played a very poor game, let them hold the ball, let them go on long drives, never gave our offense a chance to get the ball back, and you’re not going to have success if we don’t play better than that.”
Granted, the final Texans touchdown was the result of a Matt Cassel pick-six returned by Texans linebacker Dylan Cole but Tennessee’s porous defense showed a total inability to halt any kind of offensive momentum by Houston. Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, the 12th-overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, had his way with LeBeau’s unit, completing 25-of-34 passes for 283 yards through the air and four touchdowns in addition to 24 rushing yards and an additional score on the ground.
Against LeBeau’s blitzes, Watson was 66.7% of his passes with two touchdowns Sunday, per ESPN Stats & Info. In his three previous games, the rookie had not thrown a touchdown against the blitz and his 54.2 completion percentage on such attempts ranked 27th in the NFL.
The Titans now travel to Miami for the second consecutive season to face the Dolphins (1-2) in what will be the opposition’s first home game of the season after Hurricane Irma caused their Week 1 home opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be cancelled as a precaution.
With former Vanderbilt University star quarterback Jay Cutler at the helm of the offense, Miami was shut out 20-0 in it’s most recent contest last Sunday in London against the New Orleans Saints for the first time since December of 2013. In their Week 3 loss to the New York Jets, the Dolphins offense mustered only six points and is now 2-for-20 on third-down conversions in those two games combined.
Miami ranks last in points per game (8.3), last in total yards per game (249) and 28th in passing yards per game (182.7).
The performance of LeBeau’s defense will be even more imperative with the status of Titans starting quarterback Marcus Mariota still uncertain due to a hamstring injury he sustained in the road blowout in Houston. Mariota has not yet been ruled out of Sunday’s game but has been limited all week in practice. His backup, veteran Matt Cassel has been receiving increased reps in Mariota’s stead.
Information from TitansOnline.Com, ESPN.Com & The Tennessean contributed to this report.