Each week Colts.com will speak with a writer who covers the team the Colts are set to play that upcoming Sunday.
In Week 5, the Colts are facing the Titans in Indianapolis. To gain more insight, we caught up with Jim Wyatt, the senior writer and editor for TennesseeTitans.com.
Colts.com: Against the Chargers and Bengals, Ryan Tannehill played relatively well throwing a touchdown pass, gaining 240 or more passing yards and completing over 70 percent of his passes. But then against the Saints and Browns, he had no touchdowns and completed less than 53 percent of his passes. Who is the real Ryan Tannehill at this stage of his career?
Jim Wyatt: Well, I think he certainly has proven that he can play at a high level if the team protects him and players make plays for him. The problem he's run into in a couple of those poor performances is he's been under pressure and taking a lot of hits. Certainly, he's not without fault either. He's missed some guys, made some bad decisions but he seems like he has settled down here of late, at least he did against the Bengals. I think a lot's gonna hinge moving forward on just how good they can be around him. But, the Titans can win with Ryan Tannehill, but they've got to be good around him.
Colts.com: Derrick Henry has been the focal point of the Titans' offense for the past several seasons and doesn't look to be slowing down yet. How good can this unit be when he is playing as well as he did in Week 4?
Jim Wyatt: Derrick Henry is in a different spot than he has been in some years past in that he's not having to play every down and there are times when he comes off the field. I think the Titans want to get the most bang for their buck when Derrick Henry is in there. He showed I think on Sunday that he's still capable of busting off long runs, he's capable of running through defenders, capable of throwing a touchdown pass if you need him to. But I think the Titans have the luxury of having another back in Tyjae Spears who can give Derrick Henry a little bit of rest and also give the offense another dynamic playmaker. So, it's going to be interesting moving forward just what that division of carries and division of snaps looks like between Derrick and Tyjae. But, the Titans feel like they've got a pretty good thing going and a little bit of a one-two punch there.
Colts.com: Arguably the biggest move the Titans made this offseason was bringing in All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Through his first four games with the team, what has he brought to the offense?
Jim Wyatt: Well, he's been a dependable target especially on third down. When you look at the numbers - and I'm sure after four games he's had better starts but for the Titans, he has kind of been just what they brought him here to be. And that's being a guy who can make big catches in big situations. He has eight third-down catches that have produced first downs this year and that's tied for the NFL high. He's made some plays down the field, he's made contested catches and he's a guy that Ryan Tannehill knows that if he throws a football, he's gonna fight for it and come down with it most of the time. So, I think he's had a great attitude too while he's been here and kind of lifted the play of guys around him. So, he's been a good addition and now he's just got to stay healthy and keep taking advantage of his opportunities.
Colts.com: In the past, the Titans front seven has shown that they are a formidable group, but they appear to be even stronger with the additions of linebackers Arden Key and Azeez Al-Shaair. What do you think has made their transitions so seamless?
Jim Wyatt: I think that both those guys have made a nice impact early on. I think the Titans always liked Key from competing against him. Now it's been great to have him as not only - he's got a bigger role than he's had previously and playing a lot more snaps and I think he brings a lot to that pass-rushing unit. I think the Titans are benefiting from having some depth there because it's not just Arden Key. You got Arden Key that's getting a lot of snaps, Harold Landry as well, Denico Autry will line up on the outside and get some snaps, Trevis Gipson made a play for them last week, Rashad Weaver - they've got numbers there now where they can kind of keep guys fresh. As far as Azeez goes, he's just an aggressive, attacking linebacker who really has fit the scheme well and he's made some plays for them. Those were two guys they identified early in free agency as being good fits and I think both of them have fit in very nicely.
Colts.com: How does the defense have to adjust as they prepare to face a quarterback like Anthony Richardson who has a strong arm, but can also make big plays with his legs?
Jim Wyatt: Yeah, well you certainly got to be disciplined and you got to tackle. That's the thing with Richardson is if he breaks into the open field, you've got to do a good job of getting him down. I think the threat of him running makes you nervous. He's proven to be an efficient passer. I think the Titans faced a guy somewhat similar in [Cleveland Browns quarterback] Deshaun Watson, at least as far as being elusive and being able to make you miss and keep plays alive. So, in the pocket, I think the Titans can't let him escape grasps and keep plays alive because if he does that, he's going to burn them for some big plays down the field.