Browns vs. Titans – Battle of Untrustworthy Quarterbacks

While there is much debate surrounding what to think of Cleveland quarterback Deshaun Watson due to his checkered past and inconsistent play, that thinking hasn’t impacted Browns running back Nick Chubb. Chubb had been one of the best running backs in the NFL for the past five seasons. Chubb’s injury against Pittsburgh last Monday was a severe blow to the Browns’ hopes.

Cleveland now must lean on its quarterback to carry the offense. With how much he is being paid, the Browns will expect him to be able to handle the pressure. The Tennessee Titans are also familiar with relying on an inconsistent veteran quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill bounced back last week against the Los Angeles Chargers after throwing three interceptions in the season opener. Tannehill will need to continue that positive momentum if the Titans hope to beat Cleveland on the road.

 

Cleveland Has a Long History with the Titans

 

While the Browns and Titans haven’t played in the same division in over 20 years, Cleveland and Tennessee frequently clashed during the 1970s through the 1990s. When the Titans were known as the Houston Oilers, and even after the name changed in the mid-1990s, Tennessee was housed in the now-defunct AFC Central Division until 2002.

Cleveland leads the all-time series 36-32. The Browns won the last meeting between the two teams, 41-35, on Dec. 6, 2020. Cleveland is a 3.5-point home favorite to trip up Tennessee at home this Sunday.

 

Browns Bring Back Former Running Back

Nick Chubb

Cleveland running back Kareem Hunt wasn’t re-signed by the Browns in the offseason. But when the Browns needed help following Chubb’s season-ending injury, they didn’t need to go far to find Hunt. He still owns a house in Cleveland and found it appealing not to have to move again to find a job.

Hunt appeared to have superstar potential during his rookie season in Kansas City. Hunt led the NFL with 1,327 rushing yards during his rookie season. However, in the years since then, Hunt has never had more than 841 rushing yards in a season. Last season, Hunt appeared in all 17 games for Cleveland but rushed for 468 yards and three touchdowns in a reserve role.

 

Tannehill Sees Major Turnaround

 

Tennessee was worried after veteran quarterback Ryan Tannehill struggled to find his rhythm in Week 1. The Titans only lost by one point to New Orleans in a game where Tannehill threw three interceptions. By utilizing play-action, the quarterback was able to carve up the Los Angeles Chargers’ defense. 

The Titans saw Tannehill at his efficient best. He completed 20 of 24 passes and threw for 246 yards and a touchdown. Running back Derrick Henry carried the ball 25 times for 80 yards and a touchdown to support Tannehill. Tannehill will need to continue to take care of the ball if he hopes to keep Tennessee on the winning track.

 

Quarterback Watson Leaves a Lot to Be Desired

 

The Browns are paying quarterback Watson over $40 million a season guaranteed. Watson drew two personal fouls in the loss to the Steelers and an interception to Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith that was returned for a touchdown. Watson also fumbled twice,  including one late in the game that was returned for a touchdown by T.J. Watt.

Watson has only completed 55.1 percent of his passes through the first two games. The Browns will need Watson to figure things out quickly if Cleveland hopes to escape the AFC North Division and make the playoffs.

 

Folk Has Improved the Kicking Game

Tennessee Titans

Tennessee has found a significant improvement at placekicker. After looking for a solid option over the past few seasons, the Titans acquired Nick Folk in a trade with the Patriots. During Week 1, Folk went 5-of-5 on his field goal attempts, including a 50-yard boot.

Folks also made two field goals during the Titans’ victory over the Chargers. He was chosen as the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Folk also played an important role in Tennessee’s win over Los Angeles, kicking the 41-yard game-winner in overtime. Folk, 39, made 86.5 percent of his kicks for the Patriots last season. For his career, Folk has made 83.1 percent of his field goals.

 

Cooper Gutted Through Injury

 

Amari Cooper will be limited in practice this week for the Browns. Cooper has had issues with his groin and shoulder. Despite that, Cooper was able to play in 63 snaps for Cleveland on Monday night during its loss to Pittsburgh. He provided Watson with a reliable option in the passing game. 

Cooper caught seven passes for 90 yards in the loss. Cooper has been a solid player since he was in Cleveland. He caught 78 passes for 1,160 yards last season. 

 

King Henry May Be Limited

 

Titans running back Derrick Henry didn’t practice before Tennessee’s win over Los Angeles last weekend. It is likely Henry won’t see much action in practice this week either. Henry has been battling the effects of a toe injury. 

While Henry may be slowing down a bit at age 29, he has a pedigree of being one of the top backs in the NFL. Henry has rushed for 1,000 or more yards in four of the past five seasons. Henry led the league in rushing in both 2019 and 2020.

 

Ford Tough

 

Second-year Cleveland running back Jerome Ford set new personal bests against Pittsburgh. Taking over for Chubb in the second quarter, Ford was able to pile up a career-high 106 rushing yards. Ford only carried the ball eight times during his rookie season last year.

So far this season, Ford has carried the ball 31 times for 142 yards. During his college career, Ford played for both Cincinnati and Alabama. He’s hoping that while Chubb is out of the lineup, he will get more opportunities to carry the ball.