Titans’ winners and losers from Week 1 loss to Cardinals

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We know, we know: how can we possibly pick any winners for the Tennessee Titans after they got toasted by the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1, 38-13.

However, despite the crushing loss, the show must go on and we’re going to continue doing what we do after every game, including picking the winners and losers, even when there are few to speak of.

Yes, there were some winners from this game despite the vast majority of the team deserving to land in the losers column, and those winners should get at least a shoutout if for no other reason than we could all use some positives right about now.

Without further ado, a look at the biggest winners and losers from Week 1.

Winner: CB Kristian Fulton

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Fulton was solid in coverage overall and notched a pair of pass break-ups — one of which came in the end zone — and had three tackles. He was easily Tennessee's best cornerback in Week 1.

Loser: LT Taylor Lewan

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Lewan's 2021 debut was awful. He was beaten for a pair of sacks by stud edge rusher Chandler Jones, who totaled five altogether. It was a tough assignment for Tennessee's left tackle in his first regular season action since tearing his ACL in 2020, but there's no excuse for how badly he played.

Winner: OLB Harold Landry

Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images

Landry was the Titans' best pass-rusher in Week 1. He had one of the team's two sacks on the afternoon and was getting consistent pressure for most of the game. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to finish enough to make a bigger impact.

Loser: The offensive line

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Lewan wasn't the only one having issues on Sunday. The entire offensive line failed in run blocking, and Lewan, Kendall Lamm and David Quessenberry struggled in pass protection. Lamm also had two penalties in about a dozen snaps. Tennessee gave up a total of six sacks and nine QB hits, and Derrick Henry was only able to muster up 3.4 yards per carry.

Loser: WR Julio Jones

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Jones struggled in his Titans debut. He totaled just three receptions for 29 yards on six targets and dropped a pair of passes, one of which resulted in an interception.

Loser: The coaching staff

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Offensive coordinator Todd Downing was unable to adjust to the poor protection the offensive line was giving, he had no solution for Chandler Jones, and it took far too long for the offense to get Jones and A.J. Brown involved. Even when they did start to get involved, it wasn't enough. On top of all that, both were on the sideline for at least one play during a crucial drive before the end of the first half. Head coach Mike Vrabel showed his aggressiveness by going for a fake punt in the first half that proved to be successful, but turtle-shelled later in the second quarter by attempting a 46-yard field goal before the half. Granted, there were only 24 seconds left, but the Titans had two timeouts and badly needed a touchdown with a 24-6 deficit. At the very least, Vrabel should've tried to get closer for Michael Badgley, who had already missed an extra point beforehand. He ultimately missed the field goal. While I'm not sure there was much more defensive coordinator Shane Bowen could've done with his defense getting pressure but failing to rein-in Kyler Murray, it was the same story that we saw last season: the Titans couldn't notch sacks or get off the field on third downs. Bowen has got to figure things out quickly or else the Titans will struggle to win games in 2021.

Loser: Titans' defense

Syndication: The Tennessean

Tennessee's defense actually got solid pressure but simply couldn't finish the vast majority of time. To his credit, Murray flashed his incredible skills with his ability to evade the pass-rush in most situations. The unit also bit hard on designed run plays where Arizona's offensive line would pull to one side, giving Murray lots of green to work with on the opposite side. The coverage wasn't good enough, especially when it came to Janoris Jenkins on DeAndre Hopkins, and the run defense allowed Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds to gain 5.3 yards per carry. Arizona also converted on 7-of-13 third downs (53.8 percent). As we pointed out, there were a few minor bright spots in Fulton and Landry, but overall this defense had a major letdown performance and picked up right where it left off in 2020.

Loser: Michael Badgley

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Poor Michael Badgley never stood a chance. It's bad enough he had to take the job last minute after Sam Ficken went down to injury, but Badgley also has to overcome the Titans' kicker curse, which has been prevalent since 2019. Badgley missed one of his two extra point tries, and failed on his lone field goal attempt. It's back to the drawing board for the Titans as far as their kicker is concerned. It's unfathomable that the Titans did nothing to address the position this offseason. Of course, you can't predict Ficken's injury, but let's not forget Tennessee picked him up off the scrap heap before he won the job. That's just not a good enough solution for a team that owns the worst field goal success rate combined the past two years.

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Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

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