The Tennessee Titans won three of their four games in the second quarter of the season to bring their record to 5-3 at the midway point, good enough for first place in the AFC South. The Colts also have a 5-3 record but have two losses within the division.
I was impressed with the 3-1 record for the second quarter, as the wins were against two playoff teams from a year ago (Cowboys, Eagles) and a division rival (Jags). Never mind that the Cowboys are now a dysfunctional team, they were a dangerous opponent when the Titans faced them.
This review of the team at midseason will focus on the offense and primarily upon the second quarter of the season. In case you missed reading them last month, or if you wish to read them again, here are links for the first quarter reviews of the offense and defense.
Quarterback: Vince Young started and finished the second quarter as the signal caller but left the Jags' game with knee and ankle injuries. Kerry Collins did a decent job replacing him, both to finish that game and in the win over the Iggles. In my first-quarter review, I wrote that Vince was too inconsistent and I wanted to see more consistency out of him. He complied with 5 TDs and no INTs in the 2¼ contests he played since then.
Running back: CJ had two more 100-yard games and added 367 rushing yards in the second quarter to bring his total to 721, on pace for 1442. I'm not quite as worried about overusing him as I was earlier in the season. After games with 27 and 32 carries in the first quarter, and 94 overall, he had only 84 carries in the second quarter and no more than 26 in one game. Will we see him carry the rock more in the second half? Though I'm not worried (yet), it won't surprise me a bit to see Dinger increase CJ's workload like he did in the second half last year.
Receivers: Kenny Britt's five-game scoring streak came to an end with a severe hamstring injury in Week 8. So he's out for maybe 6-8 weeks and it will take him a few weeks to get back to form? I love the addition of Randy Moss. Hopefully he'll be able to make major contributions by the time we get into divisional play in three weeks. It's worth noting that the Titans will still face some awful secondaries, including the Texans twice, so the Moss-enriched receiving corps will have some nice opportunities ahead. It's also good to see the development of Damian Williams. Despite the presence of Moss, he needs to see more playing time. Lavelle Hawkins has seen more playing time as well. Justin Gage's usefulness appears to be quickly diminishing.
Tight ends: Speaking of playing time, I'd like to see more Jared Cook and less Bo Scaife as the season goes on. Cook needs to absorb the playbook so he can get on the field more. It seems he's got the same problems learning the plays that Ben Troupe did. Craig Stevens continues to block well, though no one is confusing him with Erron Kinney or Alge Crumpler, and he even scored his first career TD last week.
O-line: As far as I'm concerned, they're still underachieving. Hopefully they're a work in progress, though I haven't seen any signs of progress. After eight weeks, they're still only 27th in the league run-blocking, as measured by Football Outsiders, and also 27th in being stuffed. They have improved to 14th in pass protection -- the Titans gave up 9 sacks in the first four games and reduced that number to 6 in the second quarter. Regarding the role of the o-line in the Titans quest to run the ball better, I recommend Tom's recent article where he points out 1) although running up the middle isn't very good this year, it wasn't last year either, and 2) the Titans miss Alge Crumpler.
What are your thoughts on the Titans' offense at midseason?
Up next: a midseason review of the defense