TEN-DET grades: Titans’ O-line, Marcus Mariota play well in win

Tennessee's young offensive line paves for way to victory, while defense bottles up Detroit's talented skill-position weapons.

| 9 months ago
(Stacy Revere, Getty Images)

(Stacy Revere, Getty Images)

TEN-DET grades: Titans’ O-line, Marcus Mariota play well in win

Here are the biggest takeaways and highest graded players from the Tennessee Titans’ 16-15 victory over the Detroit Lions:

Tennessee Titans

Quarterback grade: Marcus Mariota, 73.9

Quarterback Marcus Mariota had a very clean day in the pocket, being under pressure on just eight of his 38 dropbacks. Even when the Lions brought the blitz, protection held up and Mariota found big holes in the defense, completing seven passes for 119 yards. Mariota found most of his success in the middle of the field, as he completed 20 of his 25 total completions targeting that area. He flashed his touch as a passer on the two TD throws, one being the go-ahead to veteran WR Andre Johnson. Mariota found his favorite target Delanie Walker six times, as Detroit had a tough time matching up with the athletic tight end.

Top offensive grades:

T Jack Conklin, 85.4

G Quinton Spain, 84.7

T Taylor Lewan, 82.1

C Ben Jones, 82.0

TE Delanie Walker, 79.3

Offensive line grades very well in victory

The offensive line compiles four of the five top offensive grades. First-round rookie Jack Conklin bounced back after a rough start, where he was blown back from the line of scrimmage and into RB Demarco Murray, resulting in a safety on the play. Both young tackles Conklin and Taylor Lewan (a former first-rounder himself) kept Marcus Mariota upright for the majority of the game, as the offense showed its versatility when that’s the case. Apart from his 67-yard gain on the ground, Demarco Murray was held mostly in check, as running lanes seemed to close up quickly on him.

Top defensive grades:

LB Avery Williamson, 88.3

DL Karl Klug, 79.4

LB Wesley Woodyard, 79.8

LB Sean Spence, 71.5

LB Brian Orakpo, 71.8

LBs help hold two explosive backs in check

The Titans held the explosive running back tandem of Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah to under 80 yards on the ground. Linebacker Avery Williamson was a big reason for that, as he finished with an run-defense grade of 89.3, which was tops in the game. After a huge game last week, DE Jurrell Casey posted only one tackle on the day to go along with his QB hit. Offenses are surely aware of his presence, and it’ll be interesting to see how teams scheme toward him during the season.

Detroit Lions

Quarterback grade: Matthew Stafford, 80.7

Stafford gets no help from his receivers, as they drop seven passes

Lions wide receivers dropped seven passes on the day, two of which were surely going to be big gains for Golden Tate, as he got behind the corner twice on double moves. Drops aside, Stafford had a good day through the air, throwing for 269 yards and touchdown. The lone interception was a costly one, as he targeted tight end Eric Ebron on an out route and didn’t anticipate the underneath corner sinking under the route for the interception.

Top offensive grades:

T Riley Reiff, 82.6

G Larry Warford, 78.9

C Travis Swanson, 74.2

T Taylor Decker, 74.0

TE Eric Ebron, 70.3

Rookie tackle struggles against edge-rush speed

While his grade of 74.0 is not too bad, rookie first-round pick Taylor Decker struggled mightily against the speed and power of Titans edge rusher Brian Orakpo, as he surrendered two sacks to go with two QB hurries and a QB hit. He made up for his 49.2 pass protection grade with a very impressive 81.3 run-blocking grade. The explosive RB duo of Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick were held mostly in check on the ground, and didn’t produce a ton in the passing attack, either, as only Theo Riddick brought in four passes for 28 yards.

Top defensive grades:

CB Darius Slay, 81.0

S Tavon Wilson, 79.4

CB Quandre Diggs, 75.9

S Glover Quin, 75.1

DT Khyri Thornton, 71.6

CB Darius Slay earns top defensive grade

Star Detroit cornerback Darius Slay had another impressive week. While he may fly under the national radar, his play on the field merits otherwise. Matching up against veteran wide receiver Rishard Mathews and talented rookie Tajae Sharpe, he was targeted six times, allowed three catches for 30 yards and added a pass defensed. CB Nevin Lawson will continue to be tested as teams try and avoid Slay’s side, and in this one, Lawson gave up three catches for 74 yards. One of those was a touchdown to Titans tight end Delanie Walker, whom can be a tough matchup for any corner given his size and athleticism.

  • Laimbrane

    “The Lions’ offense has been fun to watch the past two weeks under coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, but the past two weeks of late-game losses will surely have to sting.”

    You do realize the Lions won last week, right?

    • crosseyedlemon

      A pretty embarrassing mistake to make to be sure. If Dave Dameshek was here he would be tossing Slowik the paper bag of shame.

    • Laimbrane

      Looks like they fixed it. Glad to help edit your site, guys!

      • crosseyedlemon

        Which begs the question…Why can’t you or I edit our comment if we discover we have made an error?

  • Vitor

    Dre’s catch showed why he will be in Canton in a few years. I hope he can help Marcus improve his game, since I’m a big fan of both.

    That being said, this should have been an easily win for the Lions, if it wasn’t for a ton of unusual circumstances. Stafford’s having the best strike of his career since the 2nd half of last season, but when a sure-handed catcher like Tate is dropping a couple of balls for big gains a game, there isn’t Montana who can win the game for you. Ansah’s injury was a game changer too. Although I know pff doesn’t have him as high as most of the media, he sure is a playmaker. Finally, those penalties were just disgusting

  • Mike

    I wish PFF would grade officials. This one was tough to watch. The NFL doesn’t seem to understand at all why the poor officiating is a big time problem for their league.

  • CKK

    I posted this on a different thread and have had no response. Someone please tell me how Conklin is rated so high this week after giving up 2 sacks and a safety. Here’s my thoughts on each play. Someone please tell me how I’m wrong:

    Know that I am a Conklin fan, I’m just unimpressed with PFF here. Conklin was great for most of the game, especially in the second half but clearly didn’t have the perfect game they reported.

    Safety play: It’s clear that Warmack was blown 3 yards into the backfield on this play which likely changed Murray’s angle. However, Conklin was also ran through and around by D Taylor without any resistance to speak of. What is your explanation for this one? (can view play on nfl you tube highlight vid at :05)

    1st Sack: Ngata and Taylor blew past both Warmack and Conklin for an easy sack. I’m not sure how this one is even arguable. (1:30 of the aforementioned vid)

    2nd Sack: This one is clearly more arguable on your side. On this play, Conklin initially engages Hyder, who slants down the line of scrimmage while Ngata stunted around to Conklin’s pass blocking zone. Conklin does the right thing and disengages Hyder for Ngata. However, Ngata is already in the backfield and forces MM to flee to his left right into Hyder who ran around the end. Still looks like it’s on Conklin. (you can view this highlight on the NFL highlights page under the Lions, labeled as Hyder’s sack on MM).

    I’m open to change my opinion but I think PFF blew it on this one.