Seahawks aim to locate missing offense vs. Titans
The Tennessee Titans appeared to find their offense in the second half of last week's 37-16 victory at the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Seattle Seahawks are still searching for their offense after managing only one touchdown and 21 points in their first two games, winning 12-9 last week in part because they were playing the San Francisco 49ers.
The Titans and Seahawks meet Sunday at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, both in need of more consistency and still far from having to reach for the panic button because of the weakened state of their divisions.
"I think we'll continue to grow," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said after last week's victory over the 49ers. "We're going to get better. I think we can see us making the improvement that's going to be important for us."
Carroll was speaking of the offensive line, which did at least generate a decent running game. Rookie Chris Carson rushed for 93 yards in 20 carries and could see more time going forward in the team's running back rotation, which also features Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy.
But quarterback Russell Wilson remains endangered on any pass requiring at least a three-step drop. San Francisco's defense, which is not to be confused with the 1975 Steelers or even its great stop units in the Jim Harbaugh era, teed off on Wilson at times last week.
Wilson's numbers are pedestrian -- 37 of 66, 356 yards, a touchdown pass -- in two games. But it's hard to find much rhythm when you're running from pressure or picking yourself up off the seat of your pants about a dozen times a game.
That helps explain why the Seahawks enter this week's game 28th in points per game with 10.5, 26th in yards per contest and 29th in passing yards per game. Tennessee's pass defense isn't exactly airtight, but it can crank up a good pass rush.
The Titans certainly hassled Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles last week. Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan each did their job with sacks, and the defense forced three turnovers, including a pair of interceptions. Bortles' numbers -- 20 of 34, 223 yards and a touchdown pass -- were deceptively good.
It was the end of an 11-game road losing streak within the division for Tennessee, dating back to 2013, but coach Mike Mularkey certainly knows a win over Jacksonville isn't exactly a season-maker.
"We won an important game on the road, in our division," he said. "There is nobody in here patting themselves on the back. We have a lot of work to do still. Just like the week before, with the bad taste (after losing to Oakland), the good taste is gone. We have to get ready for the next one."
Getting ready for the next one is a bit more problematic for two reasons -- Seattle's defense and the questionable health of running back DeMarco Murray (hamstring). He rushed for only 25 yards in nine carries last week before sitting out most of the second half.
Derrick Henry picked up the slack and then some in Murray's absence, rolling up a game-high 92 yards and a touchdown in a successful homecoming to his native north Florida. Mularkey is hopeful Murray can play Sunday, but Henry is certainly a quality replacement if Murray can't go.
"We stayed patient with the run game and we decided to hit some holes," Mularkey said of Henry's second-half performance at Jacksonville. "That's the position if you can have two guys who can run the ball like that, it's a luxury. There's a lot of pounding that goes on their bodies."
The Titans will need a strong running game, regardless of who does the work. The Seahawks still have one of the best pass defenses around with a solid combination of coverage and rush. They held the impotent 49ers to 89 yards in the air last week and only permitted 17 points in Week 1 at Green Bay, a performance good enough to win with most weeks.
While the loser will be 1-2 and the winner will at least share first place in its division, there is plenty of time for either team to figure out its weaknesses and make them a strength in their divisions. Nine wins could be enough to capture the AFC South or the NFC West.
"Just stay together and keep grinding," Seattle safety Kam Chancellor said after Sunday's win. "Keep looking forward."
Updated September 20, 2017