Editor’s note: We welcome editor-in-chief Jimmy Morris of Music City Miracles — our sister site covering the Tennessee Titans — for Five Questions with the Enemy as we head into the Week 10 game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Titans on Sunday.
1) Ryan Tannehill took over for Marcus Mariota three games ago, and the Titans have gone 2-1 in that stretch. Was it the right call? Why or why not?
It was the right call.
Unfortunately, Marcus Mariota is just broken right now. The debate will probably never end here on who is at fault for that — Marcus or the organization — but the fact remains true. Mariota wasn’t making even the most basic reads and throws that an NFL quarterback has to be able to make this year. The switch had to be made.
I hate that it will end this way for Mariota here. He seems to be one of the best human beings in the world, and watching him play the first two years of his career was so much fun. We all thought we had our franchise quarterback. Hopefully he can go somewhere and regain the confidence that was stripped from him here.
Tannehill has come in and the offense has looked better with him under center. He has his limitations; no one thinks he is the long-term answer. But he is the better guy for this team right now.
2) Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown leads the team in receiving yards and touchdowns. Have you been surprised by his production as a rookie? What makes him tough to defend?
I am not surprised by his production. I was thrilled when he fell to the Titans in the second round. The dude is a physical specimen and his college tape was ridiculous. My only concern about him coming into the season was the Titans’ wide receiver curse — which is a very real thing. There have been so many guys that have come through here in 20-plus years for whom we had high hopes — only to see them derailed for various reasons.
The reason he is so tough to defend is because of his size and ability to run precise routes. His big frame allows him to win on combat catches, and he can run away from guys after the catch — which is what he did on his first career touchdown. I can’t wait to see what he can do with a good quarterback and a competent offensive play caller.
3) How do you expect the Titans to defend Patrick Mahomes and the likes of Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins?
A lot of prayer?
But seriously... as if defending this offense wasn’t already impossible, the Titans will be without Malcolm Butler, Jurrell Casey and Jayon Brown in this one. We will get to Butler in the next question.
Casey is their best interior rusher. The pass rush isn’t the same without the pressure he can create on the inside. Brown has become one of their best players on defense. His versatility allows them to do a lot of things — both with the pass rush and in coverage — that they can’t do without him.
Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees is good a getting creative to get pressure. He will have to dial some things up to keep Mahomes uncomfortable throughout the day. And honestly, their best defense will be Derrick Henry running the ball.
4) How does the loss of Malcolm Butler affect the Titans’ pass defense?
It hurts for sure. Butler has been up-and-down in his Titans career, but was playing pretty well this year. LeShaun Sims will step in and play Butler’s spot. Sims is a good guy to have on your team for depth purposes. We will see how he does against this speedy Chiefs receiving corps with the extended run.
5) Who is one offensive and one defensive under-the-radar Titans player more people should be talking about? Why?
On offense that guy is Jonnu Smith. He is the starting tight end with Delanie Walker out. Smith has shown flashes of being a really explosive guy with the ball in his hands. They will need a big play from him in this one to keep the chains moving.
On defense it would be outside linebacker Harold Landry. He was their second-round pick last year and has really been playing well this season. He had a sack and an interception in the loss to the Carolina Panthers last week. Landry is a guy who can create pressure with his bend around the edge.
Bonus score prediction
Chiefs 38, Titans 24