Alternating strategies will collide on Sunday when the Tennessee Titans play host to the Los Angeles Chargers in a matchup of teams that lost their season openers last week.
For the Titans, it will be all about finding a way forward with an offense that sputtered in a 16-15 road loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Veteran Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw three interceptions, nothing like his usual steady performance. He finished just 16 of 34 (47.1 percent) in the air and also was sacked three times.
“We have to be better. Ryan has to be better,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “We can’t turn the ball over. (Tannehill) will respond like he has. He’s been such a great competitor for us and he’s been unbelievably tough and determined. I am positive those results will be different.”
The Titans figure to borrow at least a little from the Dolphins’ strategy of quick passes to receivers over the middle. Miami’s plan completely neutralized the Los Angeles pass-rushing attack.
“I’m totally confident in myself and my abilities and the guys around me,” Tannehill said. “I think that’s what it comes down to — trusting yourself, trusting the guys around you, and then being able to make those plays when they come.”
Tennessee’s run reliance behind Derrick Henry will face a challenge from a Chargers defense that gave up just 70 rushing yards on 20 attempts vs. the Dolphins. Henry ran for 63 yards against the Saints.
The Chargers had plenty of offense in a 36-34 home loss to Miami. It was their pass defense that failed them. Los Angeles gave up 536 yards of total offense to the Dolphins, with 466 of that total passing yards by Tua Tagovailoa.
The Chargers’ rushing attack showed improvement in what was an area of concern last season, when they wound up 30th in the NFL with 1,524 rushing yards. They gained 233 yards on 40 carries vs. the Dolphins, including 117 yards from Austin Ekeler and 91 more from Joshua Kelley.
“We got some explosive runs,” said Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert, who was a modest 23 of 33 for 229 yards and one touchdown. “That always helps when you have guys running down the field like that. It opens up the pass game. To be able to see the offensive line move the ball like that, I thought that was really good for us offensively.”
But in a continuing trend in the three-year era of coach Brandon Staley, the Chargers lost another game when they had a second-half lead. They were up 34-30 with 3:53 remaining before Miami went on a game-winning, 75-yard drive.
The Chargers earned a 17-14 home victory over the Titans last December, giving them 11 wins in the past 13 regular-season games between the teams.
Herbert had 313 yards passing against the Titans last season but no touchdowns and two interceptions. Tannehill threw for 165 yards, with no TDs and an interception, rolling his ankle in the first quarter. While he missed just one series, the injury kept him out of the final three games of the season.
Ekeler came out of Sunday’s game with a sore ankle and did not practice for the Chargers on Wednesday. Los Angeles defensive end Joey Bosa and linebacker Eric Kendricks both missed practice on Wednesday because of hamstring soreness.
Titans safety Amani Hooker (concussion) and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) sat out practice on Wednesday.
–Field Level Media
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