By Abraham Gutierrez
Hoping a little home cooking changes the way the last two games have gone, the Miami Dolphins return to Miami to make their home debut against the Tennessee Titans in Week 5. Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida will be the site for a matchup between two teams coming off blowout losses.
Titans 2017 NFL record: 2-2-0
After dropping the opening game of the 2017 NFL season to the Oakland Raiders, the Titans put together an impressive two-game win streak. This included victories over the Jacksonville Jaguars (37-16) followed by a stunning victory over the Seattle Seahawks (33-27) for head coach Mike Mularkey’s squad.
However, the good times ended last week when the Houston Texans crushed Tennessee by a final score of 57-14. The Titans actually went into last week’s contest favored by two points, but the Texans offense—led by quarterback Deshaun Watson (25-34, 283 yards, 4 TDs, INT)—was unstoppable.
Titans on Offense
Terry Robiskie has been the offensive coordinator in Tennessee for the past two seasons. With 35 years of coaching experience under his belt, the former Atlanta Falcons wide receivers coach is trying to duplicate last year’s success. The way the offensive scheme works is built around personnel and playing to the strength of their abilities.
Through four games this season, the Titans offense ranks sixth in rushing yards per game (139), ninth in points (25), 14th in total yards (339) and 22nd in passing yards per contest (200). Much of this offense is ran through quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back DeMarco Murray (42 carries, 215 yards, TD).
Titans on Defense
Defensively, the Titans are led by one of the greatest defensive minds in the history of the National Football League in defensive coordinator and assistant head coach, Dick LeBeau. However, the man responsible for creating the “zone blitz” is off to a rough start in his third season at the helm of this unit.
Entering Week 5, Tennessee’s defense ranks 21st in rushing yards (113), 28th in passing yards (274), 29th in total yards (387) and 30th in points per game (32) allowed. Over the past two weeks, the Titans “D” has failed to contain opposing signal-callers, allowing Seattle’s Russell Wilson to throw for 373 yards and Houston’s Deshaun Watson to rack up 283 aerial yards.
Titans Players to Watch: Marcus Mariota, Derrick Morgan
On offense, this team’s success depends solely on the play of dynamic quarterback Marcus Mariota (66-110, 792 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs, 79.8 QBR, 20 rushes, 116 yards, 3 TDs). However, after suffering a hamstring injury during last week’s blowout loss to the Texans, it’s going to be interesting to see if he will be ready for Sunday’s game or if Matt Cassel (4-10, 21 yards, 2 INTs) will be asked to start.
On the defensive side of the rock, the Titans player to watch is current sacks (3) leader, outside linebacker Derrick Morgan. In his eighth season out of Georgia Tech, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania native has gotten on the board with a sack in three of the first four games. Morgan also has 10 tackles to his name along with a pass defended.
Even with all the uncertainty surrounding Mariota’s health for Sunday’s clash at Hard Rock Stadium, the Titans are still listed as the betting favorites. According to NFL Week 5 point spreads and pro football oddsmakers, the Titans (-3) are favorites by a field goal over the Dolphins (+3).
The last time these teams met dates back to October of last year when the Titan went into enemy territory and defeated the hosting Dolphins by a final score of 30-17. However, Miami does lead the overall head-to-head series 19-17-0 over Tennessee.