This game turned into a blowout, but what's funny is it was 3-3 for the longest time, a defensive stalemate right before the half. Actually, Jacksonville played defense and Tennessee just sat back playing the run not afraid of Blake Bortles. Still, it counts as 'good defense.’
Tennessee kicked a field goal right before halftime to take a 6-3 lead and never looked back. The next thing you know it was 30–3 Titans on their way 37-16 victory. It was worse than the score indicated, and the score wasn't even close. The Jags scored a couple of TDs in garbage time when they were way down and throwing every play.
The Titans couldn't really throw on Jacksonville, and that will be a running theme this season against the Jags. However, the Jags couldn't get anything going on offense so Tennessee kept getting the ball back quickly in good field position too many times. Mariota kept chipping away and made lemonade where he could. I think the Jaguars management realizes their issue was not defensively stopping the Titans but their offense posing no threat, thus putting pressure on the defense which eventually caved.
I think we know the Jaguars organization realizes what happened, because just as I started to write this, news hit that the Jaguars signed Ryan Nassib. You only do that if you're about to do something at quarterback. Nassib has history with the real ruler of the Jaguars, Tom Coughlin, back to their Giants days. I was wondering when this reunion might take place. The fact that it took so long leads me to believe Coughlin is not all that excited about it. We'll see.
The move probably foretells a Blake Bortles benching at least, but more likely a release or trade this week. Once you bench Bortles, it's over. Some team like the Jets or the Raiders might be dumb enough to take this guy on. Somebody will take on Bortles because Mel Kiper and Mike Mayock love him…or they used to loved him. Now they just pretend not to know him. Too focused on Carson Wentz right now to explore the former love of Bortles.
Chad Henne will be the starting quarterback soon, and that may give just an inch more normalcy to the passing game... maybe enough to open up the running game a little bit. The Jaguars need to do something because teams have no respect for Blake Bortles... not even his own team or locker room. How the Jaguars backed themselves into this corner of only having Bortles and Henne on the roster, knowing the Bortles issue full well… it's criminal. They should never have released Brandon Allen. They should have traded. They should have signed Kyle Sloter. Imagine if the Jags landed Sloter? Did they really think Bortles was going to flip a switch in the regular season? That's why you can never trust the Jags.
This is a good win for Tennessee: on the road, on the ropes at 0-1 facing a 1-0 Jacksonville for an early heavyweight title matchup in division, and taking on this shutdown defense. Tennessee chipped away all game and eventually cracked the Jags. It's a bigger win than given credit.
Fantasy player notes...
-- I want to address Marcus Mariota (15-27 for 215 yards, 1 TD/1 INT) first. He was our key failsafe plan if you missed out on Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady or maybe Drew Brees in the preseason fantasy draft. The thing I worried about with Mariota was a rougher schedule to start. This Jaguars matchup in Week 2… I knew it was going to be trouble months ago. Thus we were the only ones in fantasy and football to have the Jacksonville defense rated as highly as we did preseason. Next week, Mariota at home with Seattle isn't horrible, but it's not favorable.
In the preseason, I felt like once Mariota got past Week 3 with Seattle, he would really take off. For the most part, I still believe that to be true. A small wrinkle in the plan is that the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens are progressing better on defense than expected, and Mariota has them coming up in a few weeks. It's a small damper on the Mariota party.
I want you consider all of this because for those of you rolling with Mariota, it's about to get better. Hang in there. It hasn’t been bad, just not great. I feel good, but I also see a little more turbulence ahead than I expected. You could be/should be OK, but I want to know that a very nice schedule alignment with Mariota is Dak Prescott. Many of you drafted both of them per our rankings. My message to you is to hold them tight… things are about to swing upward.
For those with just Mariota, you may want to make a move for Dak considering Dak just came off what was perceived as a bad game – but it was a horrible matchup. Much like Mariota, they both had a horrible Week 2 matchups and now everyone is worried about them in general for fantasy. Their crime is taking on two of the top pass defenses in the NFL… perhaps even the #1 and #2 overall… both getting them in Week 2.
Here's the Mariota-Dak streaming schedule for the next 10 weeks…
MM-DAK (Starting Week 3)
SEA-ARI…Dak vs. ARI is sweet.
HOU-LAR…Mariota, and HOU may be missing top two CBs.
MIA-GB…Either works, but GB could be real juicy.
IND-bye…Perfect BYE offset option.
CLE-SF…Dak vs. SF works nicely.
Bye-WAS…Dak vs. WAS is solid.
BAL-KC…Not great, but likely Dak v. KC
CIN-ATL…Mariota vs. CIN is nice.
PIT-PHI…Dak v. Philly is solid.
IND-LAC…Another Mariota vs. IND, 2nd in 7-week span.
-- The biggest national story coming out of this game ended up being that for the second week Derrick Henry (14-91-1) seemed to be not only running ahead of Demarco Murray (9-25-0), but also looking better than Murray in general.
News hit that Murray is dealing with a hamstring, and the Titans had this game well in-hand so there could be some logic to Murray taking a powder with no loss in the pecking order. But I think there is an issue brewing.
I don't know that Murray is going to just up and disappear, but he's opened the door to Henry taking a lot more share than originally planned. One of the reasons why Murray scared me coming into the season, even though I knew he was better than Derrick Henry—and why Todd Gurley, who's lesser talented, didn't scare me—was because Gurley has zero roster pressure. Murray had the main role and was controlling it, but now he just opened the door to Henry. It's gonna be hard to close it.
What do you do? I think you assume the split is coming and you do what you would do if you knew it was a split for the rest of the season.
A split in Tennessee isn't the worst thing in the world because they wish they were like the Jaguars, running the ball 30–40 times a game.
-- This game represented why I thought Allen Hurns (6-82-1/7) was a decent waiver pickup last week. There's value in being the physically big #1 WR for the Jaguars. Especially if Bortles is at quarterback. Hurns did little in this game for the first 2+ quarters and then when garbage time hit... Hurns went wild. Part of that is the garbage time, but lest we forget: Allen Hurns is a really quality NFL WR with size. He's a good receiver.
I assume he'll be Henne's #1 red zone and gut check option as well.
If you do see Chad Henne take over, don't forget he probably has more reps with Keelan Cole (2-13-0/3) then any other Jags starting WR. In his two NFL games and in his last two preseason games, Cole has looked a little lost and skittish. However, it's quite a thing to go from an UDFA prospect I didn't know existed to Jaguars starter two weeks into the preseason games… and then starter in the regular season now.
I'm not yet excited about Cole's prospects until I see some more evidence that he is settling down and taking control. Right now he looks like a kitten caught in New York City traffic.
-- I just want to make a quick statement about Leonard Fournette (14-40-1, 2-21-0/5): He’s definitely the top running back from this draft class. His hands are way better than any of us expected. I'm so pleased for those of you that maneuvered to get him…even getting a discounted chance when he started to fall in drafts due to the foot injury concerns. You got a stud running back for years as long as he stays upright.
… if they only had a quarterback.
-- As fast as people got excited about Corey Davis (1-4-0/3) last week, they're turning their backs now. He's heading to waivers this week in 12-team redrafts. His crime? Not being able to rack up big numbers against the second-best pass defense in the NFL, in my estimation.
At some point soon, Davis is going to pay off but it might take another week to get past the Seattle matchup.
The only reason I don't get wildly excited about Davis is because Rishard Matthews looks so good with Mariota. Eventually, Davis-Matthews are going to combine to be one of the better 1-2 WR punches in the NFL. It's just not there yet. If you can hold on to Mariota especially, and see this through, I think this Titans passing game will pay some fantasy dividends soon.
-- I had mentioned Allen Hurns having trouble for 2+ quarters… some of that can be blamed on rookie CB Adoree' Jackson (5 tackles. 0.5 TFL). The Titans are building a pretty solid defense and now that Jackson looks like he's an instant impact in the NFL, the Titans could be a sleeper DST down the road. Very impressed with Jackson, a corner we loved coming out of the draft.
-- Many of you had the great Jacksonville DST effort in Week 1 based on our lofty projections in the preseason. You were well pleased this time last week. So pleased, you probably started them again in Week 2… and now you're not so pleased.
This defense is for real, but they are going to be susceptible to problems with the offense not creating action to put the Jaguars defense in good positions/from always having to come onto the field. Chad Henne should be a little help to rectify that. Still, it's a thing you'll have to deal with running with the Jags DST, a defense you might be able to run for most of 2017. They are that good. The mild downside is that Blake Bortles is really that bad in any given week.
Snap Counts of Interest...
40 = Fournette
27 = Ivory
59 = Hurns
58 = M. Lee
44 = Keelan Cole
48 = Rishard Matthews
23 = Corey Davis (hamstring issues)
12 = Taywan Taylor
30 (45%) = Jayon Brown