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Countdown to Kickoff: 45 Days

Under Mike Vrabel, the Titans have given opponents fewer first downs by penalty than any NFL team.

The countdown to kickoff continues.

The Tennessee Titans will open the 2020 regular season Sept. 14 at Denver. That is 45 days away. So, today we look at one way the number 45 figures into the team’s recent history.

Coach Mike Vrabel likes to say there are mistakes, and there are mistakes that get you beat. It is important to have as few of the latter as possible.

Along those lines, there are some penalties that hurt more than others. For example, flags thrown against the defense that give the other team a fresh set of downs can prove particularly costly.

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In two seasons under Vrabel, Tennessee Titans opponents have gotten 45 first downs as a result of penalties. That is the fewest in the NFL over that span. Cincinnati (47) and Indianapolis (48) are the only other teams with less than 50.

Last season, the Titans had two games in which opponents did not get any first downs as a result of penalties and three others with just one apiece. The season-high was three (the same as in 2018) and it happened twice. In both cases, vs. the L.A. Chargers and the second meeting with Jacksonville, Tennessee still managed to win.

Tampa Bay was the NFL’s most penalized team in 2019 and had three games in which opponents got four or more first downs by penalty.

In two years under previous coach Mike Mularkey, the Titans had two games with five first downs allowed by penalty and two others with four. Mularkey’s first game as interim head coach in 2015 included seven opponents’ first downs by penalty (they still won in overtime).

Tennessee has not won every time out since Vrabel became head coach. There have not been many times, though, when his team has beaten itself with penalties, though.