TitansOnline.com Senior Writer and Editor Jim Wyatt offers six things to watch in Sunday’s Week 5 game against the Dolphins.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans face the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium.
Here’s a look at six things to watch:
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was limited in practices during the week, and he’s listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. Back-up Matt Cassel took the majority of the team’s first team reps, and is ready to go, if needed. Plenty of questions are out there surrounding the position. Will Mariota play? If he doesn’t start, will he be active and available? Brandon Weeden was signed earlier this week, and he’s expected to be in uniform and on call as well. Just some questions to ponder leading up to Sunday …
First-round pick Corey Davis remains out, and it’s uncertain when he might return. And yes, there’s a question mark hovering over the quarterback position for Sunday. No matter who lines up behind center, the Titans need their receivers to step up and make plays. Rishard Matthews, formerly with the Dolphins, leads the team with 250 receiving yards. Receivers Eric Decker and Taywan Taylor will be needed on Sunday as well. And don’t forget about tight end Delanie Walker – he’s averaged 81.5 receiving yards in the past two games vs. Miami. Players and coaches say chemistry shouldn’t be an issue no matter which QB is throwing passes.
“That’s not us”
Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and his players feel they have something to prove moving forward, starting on Sunday. On the heels of a 57-14 loss to the Texans, LeBeau said: “That’s not us, and we’re going to prove that’s not us.” Expect a fired-up bunch to take the field at Hard Rock Stadium, where the team recorded six sacks in a game last October. Play needs to improve across the board, from the pass rush to the secondary. The Dolphins haven’t scored a touchdown in the past two games, so the Titans hope to keep them out of sync.
Just because the Titans ran the ball for 235 yards against the Dolphins a year ago doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to do it again this year. The Dolphins are stout up front, with Ndamukong Suh (6-4, 305) and Jordan Phillips (6-6, 335) in the middle of the defensive line. The Dolphins are ranked No.4 in run defense. But running the ball would sure make like easier for the offense. Running back DeMarco Murray (215) and Derrick Henry (178) are one of four pairs of teammates with 175-plus rush yards each in 2017.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey is from the Fort Lauderdale area, so he knows all about scattered storms. The Titans have been keeping an eye on the weather this week, and preparing for possibly wet conditions, just in case. This week, Mularkey said “both teams have to play in it” when asked about the weather. If the weather is a mess, the importance of running the ball would increase even more.
Derrick Morgan and pass rush
Titans outside linebacker Derrick Morgan leads the team with three sacks in four games, and he’s returning to the scene of a two-sack game from last season. Miami has allowed nine sacks in three games, and quarterback Jay Cutler has been forced to move in the pocket. Morgan needs a ½ sack to become just the second player in the “Titans era” to record 40 career sacks. The other? Jevon Kearse.