2016-Present

Week 16 Preview: Breaking down the Tennessee Titans defense against the L.A. Rams offense

The Los Angeles Rams face an underperforming Tennessee Titans defense in Week 16. With talent across each level of the defense, the 8-6 Titans are not living up to their potential with a 25th ranked pass defense. That poor ranking is only somewhat offset with the run defense sitting at No. 3 in the NFL.

There is still hope for the Titans to make the playoffs, but they play a hungry Rams team looking to clinch the NFC West for the first time since 2003. This seems to happen every week, but it’s almost another regular season playoff game for the Rams. Here’s a look at the matchup between the Titans defense and the Rams offense.

According to NFL.com, the Tennessee Titans defense rank in the following categories:

OVERALL: 13th            PASS: 25th            RUSH: 3rd

The Titans front office loaded the defense with plenty of talent over the last couple of years. Lead by perennial Pro Bowler Jurrell Casey and underrated NT Sylvester Williams, the Titans do a great job stuffing the run. They also feature challenging pass rushers in Wesley Woodyard, Brian Orakpo, and Derrick Morgan, who combined for 18.5 total sacks in the first 14 games. In the secondary, Tennessee has first round pick Adoree’ Jackson playing at a high level, with veterans of Johnathan Cyprien and Logan Ryan (now injured) providing support. Don’t forget Pro Bowl snub Kevin Byard, who lead the team with six interceptions.

The problem in the second and third levels of the defense according to the team is their communication:.

“Are you married? Do you have anybody?” Titans cornerback Brice McCain said via the Tennessean’s Jason Wolf. “If you don’t communicate with (your spouse), what’s going to happen? You have a bad day. So communicating, it’s the same thing in life, man. Communicate with your other, or you’re not going to be on the same page. That’s what happened.”

With injuries in the Titans secondary to Ryan and LeShaun Sims, the Rams enter this game plenty of opportunities there for the taking. The Titans lost their last two games against the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers, but it wasn’t due to a lack of effort. Tennessee turned up the heat with blitzes only to spend most of their time coming empty-handed. Playing man-to-man was the style of defense the Titans gave up most of their completions on. With the talent the Rams have at the skill positions, they should have the Titans sweating from the first whistle.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE RAMS’ OFFENSE?

According to NFL.com, the Rams offense rank in the following categories:

OVERALL: 10TH            PASS: 12TH            RUSH: 7TH

WR Robert Woods returned from injury and immediately made his presence known with a quick touchdown. Meanwhile, RB Todd Gurley ran like a man possessed. Gurley compiled 152 yards rushing, 28 yards receiving, and four touchdowns. His performance ensured that Goff didn’t have to throw the ball. In fact, Goff’s matched his mark for least pass attempts in a game this season with 21. Unfortunately, the Titans will provide a different challenge with their uneven defense.

With weapons across the board, the Rams must take advantage of the Titans’ poor pass defense. The potential is there for the Rams to throw all over the Tennessee secondary. Goff possesses several options in the receiving corps to wreak havoc on Sunday. Expect the Rams to lay off the run game a bit and attack the Titans pass defense. This could work out well for the Rams if they get a chance to limit Gurley’s carries to rest him for the playoffs. Getting Tavon Austin and Malcom Brown more involved would help as well. They combined for 20 rushes for 89 yards last week, which is nearly 4.5 yards per carry.

Final Thoughts

Head coach Sean McVay answered the call to put the ball in Gurley’s hands by doing just that. He responded with a career day that put him in the running for the league MVP award. Not a bad call for the 31-year-old rookie head coach. No coach has prepared his team better than McVay this season. Be readyto watch the McVay’s Rams exploit the Titans’ pass defense in an aeriel attack led by a little play-action to Gurley. The Titans are prepared to throw the kitchen sink at the Rams, but McVay almost always find the right answers against teams on the road. With the term “trap game” looming in the headlines this week, this game seems no different for the Rams.

 

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