In preparation for this week's pivotal interconference matchup between the Tennessee Titans and the Philadelphia Eagles, Total Titans exchanged questions and answers with a blog that's focused upon this week's Titan opponent.
The blog that I'm referring to is Bloguin's own Eagles Eye, a great site that's authored by Thomas Jackson.
Up next...part one of this week's Q&A exchange, with Eagles Eye asking the questions and Total Titans supplying the answers.
The Eagles' game plan will be to try to get a quick lead on the Titans, as the feeling is Vince Young or Kerry Collins can't carry the team when they're behind. What do you think Tiitans will do to keep Eagles from scoring early?
The Eagles excel at making big plays (especially in the passing game), so its paramount that the Titans play disciplined defense without taking too many gambles in the secondary.
If the Titan defenders can keep the Philly's talented arsenal of weapons in front of them, they'll have a solid chance of preventing the Eagles from soaring to a big early lead.
The Eagles believe they have to win up front or they will lose, as the Titans D-Line is young and fantastic...Do you think the Titans will stay in a "Cover 2" on defense, or will they bring extra pressure from the secondary to further disrupt the Eagles O-Line and pass protection?
The Titans are a team that rely heavily on their front four to provide the pass rush and so far, that philosophy has paid huge dividends.
Occasionally, you'll see a corner blitz or perhaps even linebacker and former Eagle Will Witherspoon sneaking in with some pressure but for the most part, expect the Titans to get after Kevin Kolb with a relentless front four pass rush from their no-name but talented/deep defensive line.
The Titans keep games close most of the time, so a big key for the Eagles is to keep containment on Chris Johnson. One defensive slip-up or missed tackle, and CJ can take it to the house. What schemes (if any) have other teams used to contain Johnson at a reasonable level?
Most notably, the Steelers focused upon gap control as a means of stopping CJ. By staying in their gaps, staying square to the line of scrimmage and preventing him from getting to the edge, Pittsburgh's defenders did a solid job of containing CJ as he was held to only 16 carries for a measly 34 yards.
Other teams have tried the eight-men in the box strategy, which has been effective when the Titans are unwilling to take chances in the passing game.
Stopping Chris Johnson is easier said than done, but those are some of the strategies that have had varying levels of success this year.
The Eagles believe the Titans are an outstanding football team, tough and well-coached, and very sound indeed, and this game will be the Eagles' toughest test so far. But the Birds are playing without three All-Pro's: WR DeSean Jackson, LT Jason Peters and QB Mike Vick. Do the Titans have any special plans to take advantage of these three missing pieces in the Eagles' offense?
DeSean Jackson: Without Jackson's speedy/playmaking presence, it should allow the Titans to focus most of their attention on emerging WR Jeremy Maclin. That's one less weapon the Titans have to deal with as they face a potent Philly passing attack.
Jason Peters: The Titans game plan at DE remains the same, whether or not Peters is starting: they will continue to rely on their front four to rush the passer. With Peters out and King Dunlap playing in his absence, don't be surprised to see the Titans attempt a stunt or two in King's vicinity.
Michael Vick: Mike's a dynamic runner, so his absence should allow the Titans' defensive ends to play an aggressive brand of football as they relentlessly attempt to harrass a more stationary Kevin Kolb.
It seems when opposing QB's go to a three-step drop and quick hitting patterns, the Titans struggle a little with coverage. Do you feel the Titans will have something special for Kevin Kolb if he tries to get into that 3-step rhythm?
The three-step drop was consistently a thorn in the Titans' side during their horrible 0-6 start in 2009. A banged up secondary led to rookies such as Jason McCourty and Ryan Mouton playing heavy minutes and opposing QB's constantly took advantage of their lack of experience.
This year, the Titans are in much better shape at corner. McCourty, prior to his injury, has stepped up as a solid performer during his second year. Rookie Alterraun Verner has played well in McCourty's absence, displaying a tenacity at making tackles while also having a nose for the football.
Cortland Finnegan is healthy and despite some struggles here and there, is a Pro Bowl caliber player. Veteran Nick Harper is no longer on the team, so that's a classic example of addition by subtraction.
Improved safety play has also helped in 2010, with Michael Griffin playing closer to his 2008 Pro Bowl level than his disappointing performance during the '09 season.
If Kolb gets into a rhythm with his three-step drops, I'm a lot more confident about the Titans' chances of containing him than I would have been if the year was 2009.
Up next...Part II of this week's Q&A exchange.