The biannual battle with the Tennessee Titans is always a big one and this year is no exception. The Titans are busting out the old Oiler uniforms just to pour salt in the wounds. It’s what the kids call a troll job. The Houston Texans would love nothing more than the smack them in the mouth, but that may prove difficult without their starting quarterback, two best receivers, and their best defensive lineman. As per usual, the conversation was a friendly one and started with the quarterbacks.
Battle Red Blog: Will Levis was obviously highly regarded prior to the draft. Now that you have seen him for several weeks, what is your assessment of him? Do you think he has a chance to be the Titans franchise quarterback or do you think they will go back to the drawing board? How does his game differ from Ryan Tannehill?
Jimmy Morris: Levis has certainly shown enough that they will attempt to build around him and give him a chance to develop into a franchise quarterback. We have seen a lot of good things from him in his seven starts. He became the first rookie quarterback to ever throw for over 300 yards on Monday Night Football this week. Levis showed a ton in that game. We already know he can make all the throws, but he showed unbelievable poise against the Miami Dolphins. He threw a back pick-six early in the game and had a bad pitch that resulted in a turnover late, but he never appeared rattled. He led two fourth quarter touchdown drives to win the game. The Titans need a lot around him, starting with an offensive line, but he has shown flashes of being the guy.
His game differs from Tannehill’s in a couple of ways. The first is arm strength. Tannehill doesn’t have a weak arm, but Levis’s arm strength is off the charts. The second difference is Levis’s ability to move in the pocket to avoid pressure. The line is terrible. Levis was pressured on 46% of his dropbacks on Monday but was only sacked once. Tannehill would have been sacked at least three or four times.
BRB: Everyone around here is familiar with DeAndre Hopkins and Derrick Henry. Who are some of the other skill position guys on offense that we should keep an eye on? Do you think Henry has a long-term future in Tennessee or do you see him finding a new home following the season?
JM: Rookie RB Tyjae Spears is having a really nice season. He has been the perfect complement to Henry and could be poised to take over next season if Henry isn’t back. Spears is a very different runner than Henry. He has a ton of burst and is really good catching passes out of the backfield. Quite frankly, the rest of the skill players have been a disappointment for most of the season.
As for whether or not Henry is back next year, that’s a really good question. I can see it going either way. No one is going to pay him a ton of money to be a feature back at this point. He is probably worth more to the Titans than anyone else, so if they find a number that both parties are comfortable with I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back. He will probably test the market first though.
BRB: Who are some of the key players on defense that we should keep an eye on? Are there any new faces that might not be familiar to Texans fans but might make a big impact?
JM: It is mostly the same impact guys on the defense. Jeffery Simmons probably won’t play. Harold Landy has been great in the second half of the season after missing all of last year with a torn ACL. Denico Autry continues to be one of the most underrated players in the league. Arden Key was signed from the Jaguars this offseason and has shown flashes of being an impact player. Those are really the only guys that are impact players on the defense.
BRB: The AFC South has been a thing since the Texans entered the league in 2002. Now that we have a little more than 20 years under our belt do you feel the Titans have developed a rivalry with any particular team in the division? Who among the three would Titans fans most relish beating?
JM: That’s a really good question. It probably depends on who you ask. For me, it’s the Jaguars because their fans are the absolute worst. The fans that are holdovers from the Houston days would probably say the Texans because of the natural rivalry there living among enemy fans. The Titans also never beat the Colts with Andrew Luck under center so there is plenty of hatred there. It’s a pretty good mixture I’d say.
BRB: The Texans have opened as slight underdogs according to DraftKings Sportbook (+3). Obviously the availability of C.J. Stroud and other key players will affect that line. How do you see the game going? Are you confident in the Titans’ ability to win? Are there any prop bets you feel comfortable recommending?
JM: I am never confident in the Titans’ ability to win, but I do feel pretty good about this game with the fact that it looks like Stroud will be missing it on Sunday. The Titans are coming off a crazy win on Monday night that should have given them some confidence for the rest of the year. I think the Titans can win this one in front of the home crowd while wearing the Oilers throwbacks. Give me Titans 24-13, and Derrick Henry is always a good bet for an anytime touchdown.
We want to thank Jimmy for the opportunity to sit down with us for five questions and we look forward to talking to him again in a couple of weeks when the Titans come into Houston for a highly contested rematch. Please give Music City Miracles for all of your Tennessee Titans news and commentary. We want to wish Jimmy and the Titans the best of luck with the exception of these two games almost back to back.