NASHVILLE -- The Titans face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
Here’s a look at six things to watch:
Tannehill’s Encore Performance
OK, so quarterback Ryan Tannehill hit it out of the park in his first start as a Titan. His 312 passing yards ending up establishing a franchise benchmark for a player’s first start with the team. He completed nearly 80 percent of his passes and threw two touchdowns while guiding the Titans to a victory. On Sunday, he’ll face a Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked 32nd in the NFL in pass defense.
Derrick Henry’s Challenge
The Buccaneers have done a great job stopping the run – they’re ranked No.1 in the NFL in run defense. Titans running back Derrick Henry has been a consistent performer this season, and he’s already sitting at 506 yards and five touchdowns. But it won’t be easy this week. Henry expects some ugly, painful runs early. If the Titans can soften up the Buccaneers and have some success on the ground, it would sure help the passing game.
The Titans are a plus-4 in the all-important takeaway/giveaway column, and based on how things have gone so far this season, they should have a chance to make plays on defense on Sunday. Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston has a great arm, and his confidence throwing the ball oftentimes puts footballs in a position to be intercepted. In six games, Winston’s already thrown 10 picks. Safety Kevin Byard and the secondary should have a chance to create turnovers.
Big Jeff, Part 2
It’s been a while since I can remember a rookie having such an eye-opening debut on defense. Big defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons was a difference maker last Sunday, racking up six tackles, a sack, two quarterback pressures and a tackle for a loss in just 21 snaps. Titans coach Mike Vrabel this week talked about the possibility of Simmons seeing his snaps increase each week. It will be fun to watch the big guy continue to improve.
Some big-time playmakers will be on display on Sunday. Two of them play for the Buccaneers – receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. The Titans secondary hopes to contain them. A really positive development for the Titans last week was the emergence of receivers Corey Davis, A.J. Brown, Adam Humphries and Tajae Sharpe. All four made big plays in the team’s win over the Chargers. Against the Buccaneers, the Titans receiving corps will aim to make a mark of their own.
The Titans are welcoming back roughly 85 former players for a Homecoming event. As part of the alumni weekend, the Titans are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the franchise Super Bowl appearance during the 1999 season, as well as the 10th anniversary of running back Chris Johnson’s 2,006-yard season in 2009. Former Titans receiver Derrick Mason and Johnson will serve as the Honorary 12th Titans at Sunday’s game and players will be recognized at the half.