Titans report card: Mostly F’s for nightmare vs. Bengals

CINCINNATI — Grading the Titans’ 31-20 loss to the Bengals on Sunday:

Passing offense: F

Wide receiver Corey Davis, with his eight catches for 128 yards and a touchdown, had a good game. No one else did. Even quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who had been practically infallible in the red zone, made a boneheaded decision to throw when A.J. Brown wasn’t open. The result was an uncharacteristic interception in the end zone. An offense that was averaging more than 31 points a game had its second-lowest scoring output of the season.

Rushing offense: B+

For the first time, the Titans didn’t win a game in which Derrick Henry ran for at least 100 yards. They had won the previous 16 such games. Henry got his 112 rushing yards on just 18 carries – an average of 6.2 yards per carry. Running backs Jeremy McNichols and D’Onta Foreman also had ultra-efficient days. All told, the Titans ran for 218 yards on 7.5 yards per carry. It begs the question: Why didn’t they look to run more?

Passing defense: F

Joe Burrow had his way with the Titans – despite playing behind a banged-up offensive line that was missing four starters. He completed 70.3% of his passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Most glaring was the Titans’ lack of pass rush. Burrow entered having been sacked a league-high 28 times. He had been sacked at least once in every previous game. But the Titans couldn’t bring him down once Sunday.

Rushing defense: F

The Bengals piled up 118 yards on only 3.7 yards per carry, which looks OK on the surface. But no part of the defense deserves anything better than an “F” for another paltry performance. Cincinnati was a scorching 10-for-15 on third down as the Titans did more to lock in their place as the league’s worst third-down defense.

Special teams: F

Stephen Gostkowski missed another field goal, his league-leading seventh of the season. Predictable. Less predictable: another low snap by Beau Brinkley, the second in as many weeks, which led to a failed PAT. That’s as big a sign that things are out of whack for the Titans as any. The Titans also allowed the Bengals’ Brandon Wilson to return a kickoff 49 yards after they had just pulled to within 10 early in the fourth quarter.

Coaching: F

We’d give an “F” to the defensive coordinator except the Titans don’t have one. Mike Vrabel afterward insisted the team’s defensive struggles don’t trace back to his decision not to name a defensive coordinator, but clearly something has gone terribly wrong for the unit.

Reach Erik Bacharach at [email protected] and on Twitter @ErikBacharach.

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