Will Levis played like a rookie, struggling with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ pass rush and failing to lead the Tennessee offense into the end zone for the first time since being named the Titans’ No. 1 quarterback.
Levis was 19 of 39 for 199 yards and an interception in Sunday’s 20-6 loss to the Bucs. He did not throw a touchdown pass for the second week in a row, and the Titans stalled in both of their trips to the red zone.
Tampa Bay’s rejuvenated defense sacked Levis four times, taking advantage of a banged-up offensive line that was already missing Nicholas Petit-Frere and and Daniel Brunskill and lost fill-in left tackle Andre Dillard in the first half when he went into the concussion protocol.
Before leaving the game, Dillard gave up sacks on the Titans’ first two possessions.
Levis took responsibility for those breakdowns in protection, saying he needs to make quicker decisions.
“It just tough on the offense as a whole. We’ve got to do a better job,” Levis said. “If they are on us a little bit quicker then maybe just getting through my reads a little faster, getting the ball out sooner. It’s hard to kind of change the thought process mid-game, but there’s definitely things I could have done that would have helped.”
One thing that could help Levis would be more production on the ground. The Bucs loaded up against the run and forced the rookie to try to beat them through the air. Derrick Henry was held to 24 yards on 11 carries.
“We had a couple of 9-yard runs and just couldn’t sustain them,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “We went from second-and-1 or second-and-2 to, you know, second-and-7 or second-and-12. You’re not going to do very well working that way.”
The Bucs’ secondary focused much of its attention on veteran receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who was targeted eight times but finished with three catches for 27 yards. In Levis’ first game, he threw three of his four touchdown passes to Hopkins.
Levis said he has to take what the defense gives him, but also find ways to get Hopkins involved.
“I’m never going to try to force the football. We’ve got to throw it to the open guy, whether that’s DeAndre or whoever it is, that’s what’s going to happen,” Levis said.
“Obviously we are going to have our plays for (Hopkins). And it’s obvious I’m thinking about going his way sometimes,” the rookie quarterback added. “We’re still working on chemistry on some of those one-on-one balls. He’s too good of a player for us to not give him the ball.”