The 2021 Tennessee Titans are looking like the AFC powerhouse many expected they would be this season.
At 5-2, the Titans dropped their Week 1 game to the undefeated Arizona Cardinals and a head scratcher to the New York Jets in Week 4.
With all of the talk centered on the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, and Cleveland Browns, the Titans have been operating somewhat under the radar outside of the Tennessee area.
That definitely has changed.
The past two weeks, the Titans have been methodical in their breakdown of opponents who were playoff contenders last season.
It started in Week 6 with the 34-31 victory over the Buffalo Bills and continued in Week 7 with a blowout victory over the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 27-3.
What are the keys to their success?
A quick look at the stats tells the story.
Running back Derrick Henry, 27, led the way with 143 yards rushing and three touchdowns against the Bills.
In his sixth season, Henry is a relentless and consistent runner that delivers for the Titans year after year.
With 10 rushing touchdowns on the season, he is outdoing the majority of the NFL teams’ rushing attack in the red zone.
Derrick Henry has more rushing TDs (10) than 30 of the 31 other teams. pic.twitter.com/2UKNMIWBCk
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 23, 2021
While he is not a one-man team, any NFL owner would like to have him on his or her roster without a doubt.
In the Kansas City game, Henry threw a touchdown pass.
“Only QBs can win MVP"
Derrick Henry: Hold my beer pic.twitter.com/rXLMpaKD0L
— Footballism™ (@FootbaIIism) October 24, 2021
It is not any wonder he is called King Henry; he can do it all.
Derrick Henry career:
65 rushing TD
3 receiving TD
And now, 1 passing TD. pic.twitter.com/dE9cYw39rW
— StatMuse (@statmuse) October 24, 2021
The offense gets most of the kudos in Tennessee, for good reason, but the Titans defense has shown up in big plays this season.
Against the Buffalo Bills in Week 6, the game was on the line with a 4th and 1 play in the red zone with 22 seconds remaining.
The Titans stuffed Josh Allen to secure the win.
That marked only the second time in Allen’s career that he was not able to convert a 4th and 1 play when he called his own number.
He had done it 13 of 14 times.
Now he is 13 of 15 thanks to the 2021 Tennessee Titans.
Entering last night, Josh Allen had 14 rushing attempts on 4th-and-1 in his career. He had gotten a first down on 13 of those 14 attempts.
— Stathead (@Stathead) October 19, 2021
While there is still work to be done on the defensive side of the ball, the team’s new defensive coordinator Shane Bowen has already made an impact.
Bowen was the Titans outside linebackers coach in 2020.
His strategy is not complex; it is just the opposite.
Communication and positioning were issues last season.
Bowen’s approach is as follows:
“We’ve kind of made an emphasis to simplify with some of that stuff, so we can make sure we’re getting lined up and we can play fast.”
They are putting the pieces together and making the plays they need to.
“Going into the middle of the season, we’re starting to catch fire.”
That is a pretty scary proposition for the Titans opponents for the rest of the 2021 season.
The once overlooked defense is holding its own and building momentum while the offense with Henry continues to steamroll.
The Titans look to be in the playoff mix at the end of the season if this continues.