Tennesee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) throws a pass in the first quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts on December 20, 2015. File photo by Matthew Healey/UPI
And though it was in the grand scheme of things a meaningless preseason opener, the fact that the Titans managed just three points against the lowly New York Jets may have stalled the speed of the bandwagon just a little bit.
Granted, starting quarterback Marcus Mariota played just two series, and many of the starters played only a little bit more than that. But the lackluster performance of the offense, especially, was something that was a bit unexpected.
The starting offensive line allowed one sack of Mariota, and between starters and backup linemen, Alex Tanney was dumped seven times by Jets defenders. Some of that blame lies with Tanney, who appeared to hold onto the football a bit too long on occasion. But not all of it can be laid at the journeyman backup’s feet. Tanney also fumbled and threw an interception in the red zone, as he struggled, completing just 11 of 27 passes for 132 yards.
The defense, which to its credit did settle down, was not without fault either. Cornerback Logan Ryan, the team’s big free-agent acquisition in the offseason, was burned for a 53-yard pass that set up the game’s only touchdown, and was targeted for another completion as well.
Despite the issues, head coach Mike Mularkey had no major qualms with the defense.
"I thought our defense played winning football. Any time you can get stats like that in a game, holding your opponent to seven points, you should win a game," Mularkey said. "I liked the way they played, the physicality and the effort that they gave."
It is the offense, the area Mularkey is most involved in, that was a concern to the head coach.
"Offensively, we made – again, that’s why I have a hard time giving you, sometimes, direct answers until I’ve watched the tape a couple times," he said. "After watching it a couple times, it still was not good enough obviously to win a football game. There were less mistakes than I thought there were. The problem was the mistakes that there were, were critical and some catastrophic."