The Tennessee Titans are one of those teams most New York Giants probably don’t know a whole lot about. With the teams meeting Sunday at MetLife Stadium we turned to Terry Lambert of SB Nation’s Music City Miracles for help. Terry answers our ‘5 questions’ this week.
Ed: As we hit the final three games of the season are the Titans pretty much where, and what, you thought they would be entering the season?
Terry: They’re probably a little behind where we thought they’d be. That’s probably in large part due to injuries. They lost Delanie Walker for the season in Week 1. The same game, Marcus Mariota suffered a nerve injury which hung around for over a month. With a new offense in place, that handicapped the growth of the offense. Rishard Matthews left the team in the first month of the season, too. Mariota has had to learn a new offense with a struggling offensive line and a whole crop of young receivers. It’s just taken a while to come together. With Matt LaFleur coming over from the Rams, we were hoping to see some modern day offense. That just hasn’t happened quite yet. But to be fair, the Titans’ personnel isn’t where it needs to be either.
Ed: Near the end of his fourth season, what is Marcus Mariota? A franchise QB you can win big with? A guy who is still developing? A mediocre quarterback? What do you make of him?
Terry: Titans fans are split here. I’m in the franchise quarterback camp. He’s shown me he can play at a high level, but he’s had so much instability around him. This is his third head coach and offensive system. He’s yet to really have any true difference makers around him, yet he’s still played well. The frustrating part has been the injuries, which won’t seem to go away. Every year it’s been something with him, so I certainly get the frustration on that end. I think Mariota is going to be fine, perhaps even great in the long run with some stability around him. Whether or not the Titans can deliver that is a different story.
Ed: Thoughts on Mike Vrabel’s rookie season as head coach. Is he a guy who is going to be around for a while with the Titans?
Terry: It’s a pretty tough evaluation. He’s blown out the Patriots and Cowboys in big spots, but his team has laid down against the Ravens, Texans and Colts. Quite honestly, this team isn’t any better than Mike Mularkey’s version. I’m definitely not out on Vrabel, but I’m not all the way in either just yet.
Ed: If you could take one player off the Giants’ roster and put him in Tennessee’s lineup, who would it be? Why?
Terry: Without a doubt, it’s Odell Beckham. Tennessee has a good player in Corey Davis, but nothing consistent after that. I firmly believe they need a veteran receiver to take the offense to the next level. Mariota has won a good amount of games throwing to guys like Tajae Sharpe, Taywan Taylor, Nick Williams, Harry Douglas and Kendall Wright. I’d love to see him have a player like Beckham on his side.
Ed: You are game planning for the Giants. How are you going to attack the Titans, on offense and defense?
Terry: Defensively, I’m attacking the right side of the offensive line. Jack Conklin is out, meaning Dennis Kelly will start. Right guard Josh Kline has struggled all year and can easy be attacked. I’m stacking blitzes towards those two and getting pressure to Mariota’s face.
Offensively, I’m giving the ball to Barkley as much as possible. This front has been pretty inconsistent lately, but the Giants have enough weapons (assuming Beckham plays) to beat the Titans will play action off of it. Adoree’ Jackson and Malcolm Butler have proven that they can be beaten deep this year, so I’m making sure I attack down the field consistently.