Tennessee Titans

Titans NFL Team Column
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17 November 2009

Titans Possess Best Running Back in the NFL

Chris JohnsonThere’s no stopping him, RB Chris Johnson the NFLs leading rusher was at it again on Sunday with 232 total yards and 2 TDS.  More importantly the Titans pulled away in the second half for a 41-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills.  Johnson came into the game with 959 yards rushing and is on a quest for 2,000 yards. I’d say he is on pace to secure that goal. Needing to average 134.4 yards over the rest of the season sounds difficult but the way he has been running the football it’s not impossible. 

There are two numbers that will not only help Johnson reach his lofty number but will help the Titans reach their ultimate goal, 85.9 and 6.4. 85.9 is the QB rating that has been put up by Vince Young, his play has been exactly what the team has hoped for. Now, the numbers haven’t been spectacular, 44-67 502 yards 2TD and 2 int, but 7.6 yards per attempt helps keep the secondary honest and the threat of the pass is almost as important as the attempts.

Vince’s athleticism as allowed this team to open up the playbook and run deeper patterns and even throw in the good old fashion college option.  The most impressive aspect of his play has been the lack of mistakes by this offense. A scout once told me that one of the most overlooked numbers that define good teams is sacks and sacks allowed, over the last 3 games they have allowed a total of 1 sack and has gotten to the opposing QB 9 times.

6.4, is the yards per carry (YPC) that RB Chris Johnson is averaging this season, the highest YPC since QB Bobby Douglass in 1972. Chris has the one intangible that you cannot teach, speed, and lots of it. That speed helps in more ways than just getting out to the edge, or pulling away from defenders in the open field. That helps, but it makes the offensive line better, they don’t have to hold blocks as long allowing them to get to the second level and the holes do not have to be as large as you would need for a bigger power back, Lendale White for example.  A sliver is all he needs to hit and he’s gone.

Another very important stat that the Titans have been excelling in is the turnover ratio. The first 6 games they were a minus 9 before that first win against the Jaguars they have been a plus 6 since the then. I don’t know what was said behind closed doors that bye week, but this team has woken up and realized what they have to do to win football games. With 2 of their next 3 on the road against some very good teams in the Texans, Cardinals and Colts they will be tested but with the confidence that has been building and the level that they have been playing at this stretch couldn’t have come at a better time.

In the post game interview Chris Johnson summed it up perfectly “Defenses, they have to choose. Do they stop 10 (Young) or do they stop 28 (Johnson)? That’s what me and Vince say every day. Whichever one you choose to stop, the other is going to have a good day.” All right Texans you’re up next, which one do you choose?

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10 November 2009

The Titans are Streaking With Two Wins in a Row

Holy cow, who are these guys? What happened to the Titans I saw earlier? Was it really that simple, change the QB and win? No, but it sure didn’t hurt. The resurgence of QB Vince Young continues with a very efficient 12-19 for 175 yards and a 7 yard TD run. Those are exactly the numbers that Coach Jeff Fisher would like to see. Keep the game plan simple, that’s the key for this Titans team, run the football, get pressure on the opposing QB and do not turn it over.

A lot of QB's do not like the term “game manager”, they think it’s a death phrase that could hurt them on the bottom line. In VY’s case, that phrase is fine with him, as long as he is on the field playing and not holding a clipboard call him what you like. Keep the offense balance and don’t turn the ball over and keep the only title that matters “starter”.

RB Chris Johnson you don’t have to worry about any titles except “pro-bowler”. With 135 yards and a TD, another in what seems like a routine day at the office for the hyper-fast tailback, gives him 959 on the season. More importantly it came on a carrier high 25 carries. While the yards are nice, the magic number for this team’s success is the 25 carries and the 5.4 yards per carry that came along with it. A running game that can produce numbers like that can make life easier for the quarterback. Having a running game like that will pull the linebackers and safeties in a step and hold them for that split second on play action. That is a big key for VY, who is not a proficient strait drop back passer, in allowing him to “manage” the game.

While the play of Vince Young is somewhat surprising, it’s the play of the defense that has been the catalyst of this “awakening”. The secondary, to be more specific, has made the largest improvement. Be it health, pride or the newly acquired Rod Hood. The veteran cornerback has been playing like he has something to prove after being cut this preseason by Cleveland and Chicago, and has added much needed depth to this unit. Cortland Finnegan, Michael Griffin and the rest of the gang will look to build on this success against a Buffalo squad that can’t seem to get out of its own way at times.

Building on this momentum will be key this week, after what seems to be a very winnable game (never thought I’d be saying that 4 weeks ago) they have an extremely tough stretch of games. After the Bills come in they have two of three on the road against some of the NFL most explosive offenses in the Texans, Cardinals and Colts, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. To use the old cliché “one game at a time” lets focus on next week.

The inconsistent Bills (3-5) come in fresh off their bye week and winning two of their last three should provide a good test for the hot Titans. The Bills come into LP Field at the bottom in rush defense (32) giving up almost 174 ypg, look for Chris Johnson to improve on his numbers towards his quest for 2,000 rushing yards. The same game plan should be in effect run the football, which will open up the passing lanes against the 10th ranked pass defense. Look for the game to stay close early with the Titans pulling away in the second half for a 27-10 victory.

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5 November 2009

Titans Finally Get a Victory

Titans win…Wow and all it took was a bye week, change in quarterback, 228 yards rushing by Tailback Chris Johnson and getting their secondary back healthy. See that wasn’t so hard, maybe they can convince the Commissioner for another bye week, talk the 49ers into letting Johnson run for a couple of long TD’s and wrap CB Cortland Finnegan and the rest of the secondary in bubble wrap till kickoff. Then we can start talking about a winning streak.

All kidding aside, this is one of the few times I agreed with an owner sticking his nose in and forcing a on the field change. Would Head Coach Jeff Fisher have made the change to quarterback (QB) Vince Young without that pressure? I doubt it, I never thought that the failure of the offense was solely QB Kerry Collins fault, but a change was needed to spark something. Will the VY resurgence continue as they head to the city by the bay and take on a tough 49ers team? I don’t see a big jump from last week’s numbers, 15-18 125 yards and a TD for a 114.1 QB rating, in fact I can almost guarantee you that Coach Fisher doesn’t want bigger numbers.

I know that sounds funny, but the more inflated the passing numbers get for him the greater chance for mistakes. If OC Mike Heimerdinger starts calling 25 to 30 pass plays it could get ugly.

Running the football is the name of the game for the Titans, and that’s the best formula of success for Vince. Let him operate out of play action, let him roll out and use his athleticism. Can you expect 228 yards from Johnson, probably not but I would be happy with another 20 plus carries. I wouldn’t say the offense is fixed but at least with a change of pace calling the shots under center it’s a start. Now if there were something to fix the tackling on defense.

I hate being so negative especially in a week that saw this team record its first win, but there is a reason why it took till week 7 to get it. While most of the attention was on fixing the offense, the defense seemed to slide by with excuses. I know that the secondary was all beat up, they haven’t been able to produce a pass rush and they could seem to come up with the big play. As I probably stated before and will continue to do so, this team is built on the running game and defense.

For once this year we were allowed to see a glimpse of that formula, and a victory followed. They were able to get in quarter back QB David Garrard face and force him into mistakes, something that they were not able to do in there earlier meeting. They are still lacking though at a very important aspect of playing defense, tackling. 

If they would like this winning to continue they desperately need to do a much better job of tackling. They go against another running back in RB Frank Gore that is tough to bring down with one guy; DC Chuck Cecil will need to stress gang tackling to this unit.

While I’m not going to go out and predict a victory on the road this week, you will see a more competitive team on the field. With that first victory under their belt you can see that their spirits were lifted and renewed. Maybe there is finally a light at the end of this dark tunnel, and for once I can say that it’s not a train.

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22 October 2009

As They Approach the Bye Week

Ah, the frozen tundra of Gillette Stadium in beautiful Foxborough, Massachusetts. It has been known to be the final resting place of good teams over the years. If you’re quiet enough you can hear the 2001 Oakland Raiders still complaining about the tuck rule, and the faint yelling of Don Shula and the ’82 Dolphins protesting the snow plow game. Then as your mind races back to the present you catch a glimpse of what looks like the Tennessee Titans. A snow covered group that can still be seen brushing away the snow looking for what’s left of their dignity and pride.

59-0, that’s all that needs to be said, there is no reason to dig deep and dissect the porous defense that allowed a NFL record 5 touchdown passes in a quarter. No reason to come up with excuses about the weather, both teams had to play in it, even though only one actually showed up. I have seen better execution from my six year old making snow angels in the yard, but that’s the past. The past as Mike Ditka calls it “is for cowards and losers.” Now as the bye week approaches the players need to take their minds off of the game and look inside themselves and return with the passion and determination that was on display for 16 weeks last season.

Head Coach Jeff Fisher, you stay put. This is where your money is earned, when things are going great it seems like all you need to do is roll the ball out there and say go play. When things are bad, real bad, is not the time to be seen at a charity event wearing a Colts jersey the day after your owner, Bud Adams was talking about a coaching change. Get your butt inside and figure out what you’re going to do with the quarterback position, do you have any confidence in Vince Young.

If you do, put him out there, if not get rid of him, he’s not doing you any good modeling parkas on the sidelines. It’s up to you to figure out if Kerry Collins has gone from the grizzled vet with all the accumulated stats, to the old guy that stands there like a statue waiting for his under performing group of receivers to get open. Chris Johnson can’t do it by himself; you need to find a way to make this team more balanced. Make teams move that eighth or ninth defender from the box and get the ball down field. Having a passing game that went 2-12 for -7 yards and a pick is not going to cut it. Again you can’t use the excuse that the weather was bad, Brady had no problems.

Defensively, they need to back to basics, even if that means you need to go back to a training camp atmosphere and find who can play and who can’t. I know with this team being one of the oldest in the league that might not be a great idea, but what do you have to loose, you’re already riding the lame duck fence as it is. It’s not the loosing that bothers me, loosing happens even to great teams, it’s the lack of competiveness. That’s the most disappointing and surprising aspect to this season.

To have a team full of malcontents and underachievers one of two things had to happen, you totally over evaluated the players or they stopped playing. Either way, that goes back on the head coach, as unfair as that sounds. Remember that Fisher isn’t the one out there throwing picks, missing blocks, trying to run with a receiver downfield, but in a what have you done for me lately league, winning is everything. This week is as much of an important week as any, when Jeff Fisher addresses the team and to them he sounds like Charley Brown’s teacher, this will go from bad to worse.

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6 October 2009

Positive Thoughts on the Titans

As I sit starring at my keyboard wondering how to put into words the 0-5 start that we have been privileged to watch. It came to me, stop being so negative, how hard could it be? Maybe if I start thinking positively the vibes may find their way into the Titans locker room and help thwart off another loss. I know the players are thinking that way, Linebacker David Thornton told us, "Even though this start isn't the script that we wrote out, we're not going to lose faith.

This doesn't define us as players or as an organization. We know we're winners. We've just got to continue to improve. Work hard and hope things get better for us." If the players can be that positive, why can’t I? So what if they have to go on the road, to New England of all places, to get their first win. I can’t sit here and think that the last time they started 0-5 was 2006 and they have all the making of going 0-10 for the first time since ’84,they were the Oilers then.

I need to think about the 10-0 start last season, not that they are 3-9 since that point. I must stay positive, I have to think about a top 5 rush defense not a offense that has only 4 rushing touchdowns this season and none over the last 10 quarters.

I got it, I’ll think of how much better they are salary cap wise not trying to match Washington’s 100 million dollar deal to DT Albert Haynsworth, not the fact they can’t muster any push up the middle to get in the QB face. I’ll think about having a “veteran” QB to rely on in Kerry Collins when numerous teams are still looking. Not the fact that he has more interceptions that touchdowns and a rating of 67.4. I need to forget the fact that his backup has lost all confidence in himself and from the coaching staff, and try to remember that the franchise QB of the future is already on the roster. Isn’t that nice, they don’t have to look any more.

I love having a veteran team (old) that plays with caginess and moxie (slow and injured). That veteran leadership has helped them have a great run defense, thank you Keith Bullock, and having a nice pass rush, with 9 total sacks and 1 from Jevon Kearse and Kyle Vanden Bosch combined. Wait a minute, that’s not a good pass rush…..breath, positive, positive, see I think its working. It might be a silver lining losing most of the secondary to injury; it helps the rookies gain valuable game experience. So what if they made Payton Manning not work any harder than he would in practice. What do you want; they held them under 40, that’s not bad.

As I wait for the veteran, hard working (old, not as talented) Titans to take on the Patriots up in Foxboro on Sunday, I feel warm inside from the positive vibes that I’m sending. I feel a well earned (about time) victory coming. That wasn’t hard I made it all the way to the end without once being critical…. Forget it, I need an aspirin.

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6 October 2009

Has Anyone Seen the Titans?

I’m back from my week long mission on finding the real Tennessee Titans. It was a long journey that that started in the New Jersey Meadowlands and ended in Jacksonville. Along the way I have found clues to their where about, pieces stranded about the east coast.

Some were left behind in Jersey laying there like ex-mob informants, I found Kyle Vanden Bosh still looking for a pass rush and Ryan Mouton staring at the sky looking for another punt yelling “This time I got it!” As I made my way down I-95 past the Newark airport, I had to put a call in to Vincent Fuller to let him know that I located his busted arm. I placed his arm into the trunk and off I went.

As I hit the D.C. area road rage must have set in, that or it was the cheese steaks I had in Philly. I was yelling at the car “No, it’s not time to panic; there have been teams that made the playoffs after starting 0-3.” “Ya, only 5, count them 5 teams have preformed that feat since ’91.” The voice told me. “So you’re saying there’s a chance” I hollered. FYI, therapy is scheduled for next week.  After my little breakdown, things seemed to calm down.

The road hummed along like a Kerry Collins pass over the head of another receiver.  As I stopped to rest in Savannah all seemed well, I felt a calming pass over me, I just knew Coach Fisher will right the ship.

Then I rolled into Jacksonville, ugh. I parked the Titan mobile at Municipal Stadium and roamed the grounds, there I find Vince Young tailgating with Mark Jones. They had the Titans Kool-aid flowing and John Fogerty’s “Put me in coach” blaring from the speakers. Ironically “Don’t stop believing” was playing on the sound system as I confidently strutted into the stadium. My first thought was “Man I wish more people were here to see this” which is funny because that’s the same thought the Jaguars management was thinking. My second thought was reading Keith Bullock on “Twitter” the other day recommending everyone sit Maurice Jones-Drew for their fantasy teams.  I could smell the confidence in the air.

Ahh, it was time for kickoff. There it was again that smell that wonderful smell. Shortly after, I realized that the smell that I thought was confidence was coming from the Men’s bathroom, and then I experienced another kickoff and another. The Jag’s kicker actually need to rest after 3 kickoffs in the first 8 minutes. The rest was a blur, I briefly remember Jag’s QB David Garrard throwing all over the field for 323 yards. I thought I saw Chris Johnson fumbling and Collins have some nice completions to the wrong team.  Then the smell was replaced with the rancidness of smelling salts. I looked up from my seat to see LenDale White hovering over me saying” Lay off the Patron, it worked for me”, I could only muster up a small response “Did it LenDale, did it really?”.

As I sit in the Titans Mobile planning out my trip to the Music city, I heard rumors of an assassin that goes by the name Payton Manning on his way into town next Sunday. He carries a hot football and a milk carton with a picture of the Titans secondary on it. It’s told that he goes around asking the locals if they have seen the Tennessee Titans, and if they will please buy one of many products he pushes. I put down the “Oreo Cookies”, and “Gatorade”, fire up the engine and set off on my adventure to find the elusive Tennessee Titans.

To be continued….

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23 September 2009

It's oh-no and two for the Titans

Oh-no and two is not the way Head coach Jeff Fisher thought this season would start for the Titans. Never would you think that a week three tilt against a tough Jets team in the Meadowlands would be a must win for this shell shocked group. That’s the situation staring down the Titans next week after a heart wrenching loss to a Houston Texans team that would not go away.

What’s more disheartening is not the fact that they gave up a early 21-7 lead or they wasted a historic performance by Chris Johnson or even the fact that defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil couldn’t find a way to defend wide receiver Andre’ Johnson,  who is arguably the best wide out in the game. No, they are losing their identity. They used to be the feared bully down the street, the kid who seemed larger than life. Without that mystique they are a one dimensional offense, with a defense that struggles against the pass. They need that intimidating factor, the look at us wrong and we’ll punch you in the eye factor.

The Titans look like a team that was caught playing dolls in the backyard; they are on the defensive not the ones attacking.
Going into the Meadowlands, next Sunday the 27th they are going to have to find that missing piece. They cannot go into this game and expect to move up and down the field like they did against a pours Texans defense. They are going to face a Jets team that has that bully mentality.  The Jets can wear you down and make you play their game.  You know that Rex Ryan will have his defense ready and looking to impose his will on the Titans offense, Kerry Collins will have to stay calm and poised and lead them through this initial rush.

Then they will have to get back to what made them 13-3 last season. Get back to attacking the quarterback and pressing the wide outs on defense, and attack the line of scrimmage with the running game and let Collins manage the rest.  Be the attackers, put the Jets on their heels and they can win this game.  Since 1990, 22 teams have started the season 0-2 and still made the post season, including three last year- Miami, Minnesota and San Diego. Never did I think that the push to the playoffs would start in week 3 but if they can’t come out with a win it could be oh-no and done.

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14 September 2009

The Little Things Cost the Titans Big

Head coach Jeff Fisher summed it up perfectly, “When you lose close games, the difference is in the little things.”  In a game that features large caricatures of “superheroes” running around smashing into each other with reckless abandonment, the “little things” have a tendency to get lost.  But the littlest details can win you or loose you a game in this case, like two drive killing turnovers (interception and fumble), two missed field goals, a shanked punt, penalties and trouble fielding punts.

Turnovers are the physical mistakes that cripple a drive, and these were no exception. The only silver lining in them is that they are correctable. Rookie Wide Receiver Kenny Britt, will learn in time not to be caught in-between strides and go up and help his quarterback by breaking up the incredible catch by Troy Polamalu. Bo Scaife’s fumble was the result of a good hit that not only hurt his knee (more on that later) but separated him from the football. Bo is a wonderful Tight End and I would be surprised if you see him lose another like that again this year.

The two missed field goals one by block and one by bad snap “shouldn’t happen, it was just execution” proclaimed Fisher.  You cannot leave six points on the field against anyone, especially the defending champs. Look for Rob Bironas and friends to take a few more reps than normal this week.

Speaking of not so special teams, the dependable sixteen year vet Craig Hentrich shanked one off the side of his foot so bad that reporters had to ask if he was injured “No, that bad punt had nothing to do with… He didn’t hurt himself on that punt, no.”  While Hentrich should have no trouble punting them from now on, returning them is still a challenge. Look for Rookie Ryan Mouton (Hawaii) to make his NFL debut against Houston on the 20th and return punts and hopfully add some stability to the position.
Penalties in my estimation are the biggest drive and momentum killers, and right tackle David Stewart killed a few of them by himself.  You can forgive the Rookie Britt for getting flagged for not being on the line of scrimmage but the veteran Stewart should know better. After getting beat on the edge by linebacker LaMarr Woodley, Stewart was warned numerous times to get up on the line. After a while the refs had to call it.

Even after not playing up to their potential and making numerous mistakes the Titans still had a chance to pull it out. That bodes well for the future because you can guarantee that a Jeff Fisher coached team will not make the same mistakes twice.

News and notes: Look for rookies Jared Cook (TE) and Ryan Mouton (RET/CB) to play next week … Bo Scaife’s MRI came back negative and the swelling is down he is listed as day-to-day…Tennessee was the only team to put up 300 yards against the Steelers in ’08 they managed 320 yards on Thursday…Next game is at LP Field against the Houston Texans at noon (CST).

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10 September 2009

Will LenDale stomp the terrible towel again?

As much as Coach Jeff Fisher is trying the squash the trash talking, deep inside he hopes to see a repeat of last season’s week 16 victory. With the NFL turnover rate at about 30%, this is as much a rematch as you can get. The Titans lost only one starter on both sides of the ball, Albert Haynsworth, and the Steelers losing 3.  So after the concerts are over and the jewelry’s past out, strap your selves in for an old fashioned football showdown.

The Titans have to treat this game like any other and stick with the basic keys, controlling the line of scrimmage, contain Ben Rothlisberger, run the football.

Controlling the line of scrimmage (LOS): This will not be easy but their best chance of winning the game will be establishing what I call the 3 yard rule. On offense you would like the hole to be created about 3 yards from the original line of scrimmage. By doing that Chris Johnson and LenDale White will have time and space to find the hole and a cut back lane. Against a 3-4 scheme the key man is the nose tackle, Casey Hampton, if the Titans can keep him from penetrating then it will set up the blocking at the next level. On defense the same philosophy applies, get the defensive tackles up field and force double teams. By getting pressure up field it will free up linebackers to make the plays at the point of attack and the pressure will minimize cut back lanes. Controlling the LOS leads me perfectly into my next key.

Run the Football: The Titans offence is predicated on the running game, as Johnson and White go, so goes the offence. This will not be easy going up against a Pittsburgh team that was fewer than 70 yards from leading the NFL in overall, passing and rushing defense.  If the smash and dash duo of White and Johnson can match the totals of last week 16, 117 yards and 2 TD, the Titans can set themselves up nicely for a upset.

Containing BIG BEN will be a little tricky, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jevon Kearse will need to be disciplined and contain themselves in order to contain Rothlisberger. Let me explain, if the two ends, Kyle and Jevon, take a hard outside rush and swing wide to the it will leave a lane for the QB to escape. What they need to is take the advice from Mike Mayock on NFL Network who set it up perfectly. The ends will need to rush in to about 3 yards deep and start to pinch the “pocket” and keep Ben in there and make him a “pocket passer”. This could backfire if the tackles cannot get pressure in his face. Rothlisberger lit up the Titans last season to the tune of 25 for 39 329 yards and 2 TD the only saving grace for the Titans was the 3 turnovers he committed (2 int, 1fumble).

If the Titans can win the keys they have a good chance at winning the game. That’s easier said than done, the Steelers are the defending Super Bowl champs for a reason. Look for the Champs to take this one 20-10.

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29 August 2009

Look for the Titans to get Going

When the Titans (2-1) visit the Cleveland Browns (1-1) on Saturday, they will look to rebound after the lackluster performance last week at Dallas. It will be another good test for the defense trying to corral running back Jamal Lewis, receiver Braylon Edwards and return man Joshua Cribbs, who last week returned an 84-yard punt setting up a score.

The keys to this game are simple-GET GOING:
The running game needs to GET GOING and this is the week to do it. Kevin Mawae has been activated from the physically unable to perform list (PUP) and started practicing, and starting right tackle David Stewart who has missed the last 2 games should return. While the injuries on the line haven’t helped Chris Johnson needs to look at himself and GET GOING and start improving on his 1.8 yard per carry average.

Kerry Collins and Vince Young will both see snaps with the first team. One of them will have to GET GOING and take hold of this spot. Whether Collins reaffirms his grasp as the starter or Young pulling even, this offense will need a steady game manager to keep the defense honest.

The Titans defense is starting to get healthy and slowly rounding into shape. Kyle Vanden Bosch is getting back to his old self after missing six games last year with injury. They need him and Jevon Kearse to GET GOING and pressure the quarter back.
Cut day looms large on September 1st. The NFL mandatory cut day specifies that a team must be down to 75 players. So now’s the time to impress if you are at the bottom of the roster, or else  Jeff Fisher will be telling you to GET GOING.

Look for the Titans to go into Cleveland and start the GET GOING process and come out with a victory. So GET GOING!!

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24 August 2009

Thank Goodness it’s Only the Pre-Season

The offense could not get rolling and the defense could not get off the field, not exactly the formula Jeff Fisher has to winning football games.  Kerry Collins continues to do just enough to stay under center, and the rookies continue to impress.  The best things to come out of this game are, that’s it was August 21st not September 10th and watching the punters take aim at the video screens. Jerry Jones must have loved that.

Offense- Could not get anything rolling, managing only 191 total yards and 19:03 time of possession. Again the running game struggled; amassing a whopping 51 net yards on 16 carries. Good for a 3.2 average.

QB Kerry Collins- 8 for 11, 55 yards 1 TD-Does just enough to keep the starting job. Went 5 for 6 and hooking up on a 17 yard strike to Justin Gage on their final possession of the 1st half.

QB Vince Young-3 for 9, 33 yards 1 int-Fisher was hoping for more in return to his home state. Struggled on reads, luckily the int was caused by a missed assignment that led to a tipped ball.

RB Chris Johnson- 2 carries 3 yards- He has a target on his back about the size of the video screens. It seems that every time he touches the ball all 11 defenders are on him.

RB LenDale White-2 att 4yds- Looked at times like he was moving in slow motion

RB Javon Ringer(R) - 5 att 33 yds- Looked impressive again, look for him to push White for playing time. Also could nail down kick return role with another good performance, 2 returns for 74 yards.

TE Jared Cook(R) - 3 rec 34 yards- Should continue to improve and make contributions.

WR Justin Gage- 2 rec 27 yds- Not flashy, just steady. Left open on blown coverage for TD

TE Bo Scafe- 2 rec 15 yds- Not a productive night but he’ll be fine.

WR Nate Washington-1 rec 6 yds- If Collins or Young struggle getting the ball down field, Nate will disappear.

Defense- This unit was the definition of bend but don’t break. They were dominated statistically but were only down 14-10 going into the 4th quarter. Their biggest issue was getting off the field,  allowing 27 first downs, 43% 3rd down conversion (7/16) and 2/2 on 4th down.

D-Line- They could not get consistent pressure. Romo at times ran threw his entire progression and still had time to spare. Gave up 111 yards rushing but only 3.2 yards per attempt

Line Backers/Secondary- At first glance you would think they played awful, but with no pass rush, they were left on an island. They did give up 355 net passing yards, but kept the receivers out of the end zone till the 4th quarter.

No Huddle
NFL says that punts that hit the big screens will be a do over….Jerry Jones has said the screens will not be raised….Jeff Fisher hints that Vince Young will see time with the starters, but would not bite if asked about who will start….Next game: @ Cleveland Browns Sat August 29th.

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20 August 2009

Titans 3rd Preseason Game

When the Titans (2-0) visit the Cowboys (0-1) they will open Dallas’ 1.15 billion dollar new home. Pre-season game number three is usually the point in camp that the starters see the most time, and what a great opportunity to simulate a regular season game than dealing with the Dallas circus. Before you sit down and get mesmerized with Jerry Jones new toy, I have the five keys to the game;

Key #1: Establish the running game- With defenses stacking the box and pressing the line of scrimmage, the Titans bread and butter has suffered. Chris Johnson the fabulous second year RB has been very ordinary this pre-season with only 24 yards on 13 carries, 5 of those carries being stopped at the line or behind. LenDale White and Chris Henry are not fairing much better, combining for 57 yards on 21 carries that’s a measly 2.7 yards per attempt. Michigan State rookie Javon Ringer continues to impress averaging 5.7 yds/att.

#2: The QB battle: Vince Young is on a mission to regain the starting role. He has looked sharp and more mature this summer and will need to continue curbing his emotions this week upon returning home to the state that made him a star. Kerry Collins has been decent enough to keep his job for now. He has not wowed this pre-season but is a steadying force in the huddle.

Vince Young – 14 for 24, 170 yards ,58% completion, 2 TD 1 int, good for a 90.6 QB rating

Kerry Collins- 11 for 19, 119 yards, 57.9% completion, 0 TD 2 int, a 36.8 rating

#3: Many happy returns: Not this pre-season, the Titans miss Cris Carr (now a Raven) more than they will admit. They need someone to step up and claim that spot, with injuries to Mark Jones (hamstring) and Ryan Mouton (ankle) it leaves a large hole in the 3rd phase.

#4: Bring on the rookies: This has been a good start for the newbie’s. With Javon Ringer (RB-MSU) and Kenny Britt (WR-Rutgers) making early impacts, tight end Jared Cook (South Carolina) and corner Ryan Mouton (Hawaii) looking sharp. This is the time where rosters and depth charts are being made and making a big push for playing time is fellow rookie Dominique Edison out of Stephen F. Austin, look for these battles to continue.

#5: Stay focused: With all the hoopla that follows the Cowboys on a regular basis, I expect that to be magnified on Friday. Players will need to keep their head in the game and focus on their assignments and responsibilities and not on the huge jumbotron. By doing this they should make it out with few injuries and maybe a Win.

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27 April 2009

The 2009 NFL Draft Review

On the eve of the 2009 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans, along with several other teams in the league, had the opportunity to get one of the best receivers in the league in Anquan Boldin.  The price for Boldin was lowered and the Titans had interest but in the end it wasn’t meant to be.  So, they decided to go ahead and take a wide receiver with their first pick, something that they desperately needed to do.  With a few of their other picks, the Titans shored up some other needs as well.  They had a decent draft but still didn’t solve a few of their problems.

Here is a look at each player that the Titans drafted in the 2009 NFL Draft and a final grade at the end of the article.

Kenny Britt-WR-Rutgers picked 30th (30th)
The Titans clearly needed help at the wide receiver position and they got it with Britt a guy who could end up having a big impact in their passing game.  He is a reliable pass catcher with good speed and will allow the Titans to go deep now if their quarterback can.  With Britt and a strong running game, their offense could be much more improved in 2009.

Sen Derrick Marks-DT-Auburn picked 2nd
The Titans made an attempt to at least try to replace Albert Haynesworth by drafting Sen Derrick Marks but he isn’t going to come close to Haynesworth.  Inconsistency plagued Marks at times and the Titans will hope that he can play better and at least help them forget the loss of Haynesworth this offseason.

Jared Cook-TE-South Carolina picked 3rd (89th)
Cook was one of the fastest tight ends in the draft and should give the Titans another receiving option and help improve their passing game.  This may have been a steal for them at this point in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Ryan Mouton-CB-Hawaii picked 3rd (94th)
The Titans needed to get some help at the cornerback position and they got it with Mouton who comes in as one of the better cornerbacks that not too many people knew about coming into the draft.  He should be able to, at the least, get in and add some depth this year and quite possibly start in the future.

Gerald McRath-LB-Southern Mississippi picked 30th (130th)
The Conference USA Player of the Year might just be the steal of the draft for the Titans who will need someone to replace Keith Bullock in the near future.  There are many who wonder why McRath fell so far but he’s a future star and the Titans should be lucky to have him.

Troy Kropog-OT-Tulane picked 4th (135th)
Needing some depth on the offensive line, the Titan’s selected mammoth offensive tackle Troy Kropog out of Tulane.  Thought to be a higher pick, Kropog, like so many other players, dropped in the draft and the Titans were lucky enough to grab him.  He could start in a year or two and if he can pick up a few important skills, he could be a fixture on the line for several years to come.

Javon Ringer-RB-Michigan picked 5th (173rd)
Michigan State picked up Ringer and this was a little bit confusing because they have both Chris Johnson and LenDale White but Ringer can come in and help provide some relief at times and backup in case one of them gets hurt.  This might end up being a good pick. 

Jason McCourty-CB-Rutgers picked 6th (203rd)
Once again, the Titans went for a bit of depth at the cornerback position and grabbed McCourty who could blossom in a year or two.
Dominique Edison-WR-Stephen F. Austin picked 6th (206th)
The Titans went for depth here with Edison who could end up being a developmental wide receiver to start and then could work his way onto the team at another time.  He does have good speed but is a little raw and hasn’t gone against some of the upper level competition so he is going to need some work.

Ryan Durand-OG-Syracuse picked 7th (239th)
Durand comes to the Titans to offer them some depth at the guard position and if he can develop well enough, he just might end a reserve on the active roster.  For now, he will probably sit on the practice squad for a little while learning the system. 

Nick Schommer-FS-North Dakota State picked 7th (242nd)
Schommer will make his appearance on special teams to start and then work his way into the lineup as a backup at the free safety position.  He has a lot of good skill but is still somewhat raw.  Having played against some of the lower level competition isn’t going to help but he’s good enough and has enough talent, he should be able to stick in the NFL for a while.

The Titans needed a wide receiver and they got one with Britt which means that their offense will be that much better in 2009.  They still needed to find someone who could come in and replace what they had with Haynesworth and they will take a shot at making up for it with Marks.  Some of their other picks, including Cook, McRath and Moulton will help them out in the future.  Overall, this was a good draft, not a great draft for the Titans but it is one that will help provide depth for several positions.

Grade: B-

By Bryan Dietzler

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