Defensive Front Seven
There are two reasons for this, both centred around the running game.
First, they haven’t been particularly stout against the run. Hidden by George Atkinson III’s tour de force rushing performance against Arizona was a leaky front that allowed 172 rushing yards for a 4.9 ypc average. Granted, much of this damage was done against the reserves, but the starters had their share of misses.
Then, to open the game against the Pack, the first-team defense allowed Eddie Lacy to do what he pleased en route to an easy touchdown. The first-team defense did clamp down after that, but that was with Lacy and the majority of the Pack’s first team on the bench. They allowed another 145 yards to the Pack, with four runs of 10+ yards and two of 20+.
Second, the Titans have a hammer (Derrick Henry) and nails (DeMarco Murray) and a commitment to the run game not often seen in this era of the NFL. They ran for 96 tough yards on 4 ypc against a stout Carolina front last week, but in their first game really showed they mean business.
Opening the preseason against the Chargers, the Titans asserted themselves early and often, and just kept it going. Murray had a TD of 71 yards in the first quarter, Henry one for six yards in the second quarter, and Bishop Sankey burst for a 41-yard TD in the fourth quarter. The Titans dominated the Chargers front from start to finish and committed to running the ball an incredible 33 times in a preseason game. This yielded them 288 yards on the ground with a whopping 8.9 ypc average. Yowsa.
The Raiders linebackers in particular are going to have to keep their assignments and stay in their lanes – Ben Heeney – and flow to the ball quickly, or else it could be a long night.
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