To preview this Sunday's game at LP Field against the New York Jets, I'm pleased to present the newest Q&A with Brian Johnson of Bloguin's Jets blog One Jet At A Time. Thanks to Brian, and check out One Jet for all your Jets coverage needs.
According to the NFL's official participation information, here's how the Titans lined up in Week 3's 20-17 win at LP Field against the Chargers.
Offense (69 total)
QB: Jake Locker 69
RB/FB: Chris Johnson 62, Collin Mooney 9, Jackie Battle 8
TE: Delanie Walker 54, Craig Stevens 23, Taylor Thompson 8
WR: Nate Washington 59, Kendall Wright 45, Kenny Britt 38, Damian Williams 25, Justin Hunter 10, Michael Preston 4
OL: Andy Levitre 69, Michael Roos 69, David Stewart 69, Rob Turner 69, Chance Warmack 69
Defense (59 total)
DE: Derrick Morgan 50, Ropati Pitoitua 41, Keyunta Dawson 9, Karl Klug 9, Kamerion Wimbley 6
DT: Jurrell Casey 57, Antonio Johnson 37, Mike Martin 13
LB: Moise Fokou 51, Akeem Ayers 34, Zach Brown 32, Colin McCarthy 7
CB: Jason McCourty 59, Alterraun Verner 57, Coty Sensabaugh 36
S: Bernard Pollard 59, Michael Griffin 56, George Wilson 35
Patrick Bailey, Beau Brinkley, Tommie Campbell, Mike Otto, Chris Spencer, and Daimion Stafford each only appeared on special teams. Ryan Fitzpatrick did not appear in the game.
Well that was interesting.
The Titans completed a come-from-behind victory as Justin Hunter went up over cornerback Crezdon Butler to haul in a Jake Locker pass from 34 yards away with :15 to go for a 20-17 lead. They trailed 17-10 entering the fourth quarter and were down 17-13 at their own 6, needing to travel 94 yards for a score in 2:05 without the benefit of any timeouts as Mike Munchak lost two challenges (one good, the other less so). Scared of the big play, the Chargers obliged with off coverage and after a Nate Washington completion a play after a potential game-sealing interception wasn't hauled in, Locker missed an open Damian Williams in the end zone. The next play, though, the Chargers brought the blitz, and Locker made the throw he missed as Hunter won the battle of inexperienced players.
The game started unobligingly, as the Chargers came out and marched down the field with a short spread pass attack very much like the 2011 Steelers game that scared me so much in my preview. They stalled out and punted on fourth-and-1 from the Titans 39 their second drive, a cowardly decision that was appropriately punished with a field goal, the big play the first big one of the season with Jake Locker's legs, a 39 yard run. Locker's second such play would end in the end zone from 7 yards out to send the game into a 10-10 tie before halftime, a tie that only held up because of a Bernard Pollard field goal block at the gun. Big completions to tight ends Antonio Gates and Lardarius Green (a combined 7-103-1) helped set up a San Diego TD to make it 17-10 late in the third, but that was all the Chargers would accomplish on offense. Bironas cut the lead to 17-13 with a field goal with six minutes to play, and one last defensive stop set the stage for the game-winner.
A couple takeaways from this game for me, including things I didn't mention in my brief narrative of the game:
1. Tackling. The Titans did a great job of it, as Moise Fokou and Jason McCourty with big tackles on third down while the Chargers defensively gave the Titans a lot more yards after their first chance to bring them down than the Steelers and Texans did.
2. Kenny Britt, ugh. A drop on the first play, a false start, an illegal block in the back (a bit unfortunate, as he didn't do as much as it looked like he did), a total of no catches on five targets. This "not making contested" catches bit is entirely too reminiscent of Jared Cook. Potential rib and shoulder injuries give the Titans an excuse to sit him next week.
3. Jake Locker was much more composed in the pocket today than he was the first two games, and he used his legs effectively both to run (5-68-1) and get outside the pocket and throw. Kudos to him.
4. Nate Washington was money, with 8 grabs for 131 and proved surprisingly difficult for the Chargers to tackle.
5. Kendall Wright: 6 targets, 6 catches, 71 yards, and another player the Chargers had trouble tackling.
6. No turnovers for the Titans today. When you're trying to win on a razor-thin margin, that's huge. Locker did cough the ball up in the red zone in the fourth quarter, but Warmack was able to fall on it and the Titans ended up with the fourth quarter field goal that yielded the eventual scoring margin.
7. Zach Brown, only 1 tackle. I need to rewatch the game to figure out exactly where he was, if anywhere. Green and Gates did a lot of their damage against Fokou in coverage, it seemed.
8. Philip Rivers completed 20 of 24 passes. That's weird in a losing effort.
9. Officiating: 10 penalties for the Titans in the first half. Aside from Britt's soft block in the back, I thought all of them were legit. San Diego probably got away with pass interference in the end zone. But if you're looking at how things shook out, the holding call that knocked the Chargers back in the four-minute drill and Hunter's use of his arms to improve his positioning on Butler on the game-winning score make up for any disparity you should perceive.
More on this game in due course. Up next, what should be another low-scoring game when the New York Jets come to LP Field.no comments
With other things going on, no Enemy Intelligence this week. I sat down to try to write it, but got stuck. To me, this game boils down to something very direct: Can Philip Rivers operate effectively against the Titans' pressure? The past two seasons, he's been unusually skittish in the pocket. The big open question coming into this season was how much of that was Norv Turner's predilection for deep drops behind an offensive line that can't pass protect well. Through two games, Rivers (who's still relatively young at 31) has looked like the composed and excellent quarterback he was before 2011.
Based on what they've done the first two games, the Titans will look to pressure Rivers. This is especially true with right tackle D.J. Fluker very likely out with a concussion and Mike Harris, who was godawful as a undrafted rookie last year, starting in his place. If pressuring Rivers works, the Titans could win like a 17-13 game. If it doesn't, there's a very strong chance this could be a Pittsburgh in 2011 game, where a defense that 's otherwise seemed competent or better gets annihilated and the Titans lose by three or four scores.
Offensively, I'm not sure what to say. If you look only at drives where the offense has a first down (i.e., those not exclusively the result of defense or special teams-provided points or field position), the Titans have scored 13 and 14 points the first two games. They've done just enough that combined with a strong defensive performance in both games they could be 2-0. I give the offense about 10% of the credit for that. Outside of Eric Weddle, the Chargers can be very had in the secondary. The Titans spent all offseason trying to build a team that could pass as a little as they had to and win games. They won't suddenly become a passing game unless they're down by four scores in the second quarter. They'll try to run the ball. They'll have some success with it and some failures, probably thanks to some problems blocking Corey Liuget (who's really good) and Kendall Reyes. It's good for them Donald Butler (questionable) won't play. Dwight Freeney is a familiar name who's had a good first couple games, but is someone Michael Roos has successfully blocked before. The bottom line, though, is if the defense gets ripped, they won't score enough to win.no comments
I made it through a watch of all the Titans' offensive plays against the Texans using the all-22 overhead and end zone angles. Note this was not as in-depth a review as I prefer to do; my concentration here was on making it through the entire game, not being as exhaustive as I like to be.
As is normally the case, what I write in this post is a mix of very specific and pretty general observations, trends, thoughts, etc. on what I noticed and what stood out to me. Even when I dump three hours into watching the offense, I do not grade every player on every player-I generally don't find that a worthwhile use of my time. I instead prefer to concentrate on what was supposed to happen and why things did or did not happen that way. This is my take, what I get using my eyes and based on what I generally know about football and the Titans offense and Texans defense specifically, but without actual knowledge of the playcalls and why players did or didn't do what they did or didn't do in any specific situation.
After the jump, those observations.no comments
By the NFL's official numbers, here's how the Titans lined up in yesterday's 30-24 overtime loss to the Texans.
Offense (70 total)
QB: Jake Locker 70
RB/FB: Chris Johnson 57, Collin Mooney 20, Jackie Battle 13
TE: Delanie Walker 59, Craig Stevens 34, Taylor Thompson 5
WR: Kenny Britt 60, Nate Washington 58, Kendall Wright 32, Justin Hunter 8, Michael Preston 4
OL: Andy Levitre 70, Michael Roos 70, David Stewart 70, Rob Turner 70, Chance Warmack 70
Defense (82 total)
DE: Karl Klug 12, Derrick Morgan 71, Ropati Pitoitua 48, Kamerion Wimbley 24
DT: Jurrell Casey 72, Sammie Lee Hill 9, Antonio Johnson 40, Mike Martin 22
LB: Moise Fokou 82, Zach Brown 71, Akeem Ayers 52, Patrick Bailey 1
CB: Jason McCourty 82, Alterraun Verner 80, Coty Sensabaugh 34
S: Michael Griffin 82, Bernard Pollard 80, George Wilson 40
Beau Brinkley, Tommie Campbell, Colin McCarthy, Mike Otto, Darius Reynaud, Chirs Spencer, Daimion Stafford, and Blidi Wreh-Wilson each only appeared on special teams. Ryan Fitzpatrick did not appear in the game.
In a performance that could probably be used to prove whatever point you want to make, the Tennessee Titans blew an 8-point fourth quarter lead and fell to the Houston Texans, 30-24, in overtime.
For the first almost 56 minutes, this was the exact type of game the Titans wanted, an ugly slugfest between two teams that could sort of run the ball but not quite as well as they wanted and couldn't pass the ball with much effectiveness. The Titans held a 17-16 lead thanks to a 99-yard drive that could have been epic where Jake Locker was 7-8 for 84 yards and the score to Delanie Walker. Matt Schaub's second awful-looking interception of the game let Alterraun Verner stroll into the end zone for a 24-16 lead. A further Texans three-and-out later, the Titans had a chance to seal the game.
But an offense that struggled for most of the game outside the first drive and that 99-yard march went three-and-out, a sputtering Texans offense finally found DeAndre Hopkins, and after a two-point conversion the game was tied. The Titans had a chance inside the last 2 minutes to re-take the lie but went three-and-out again. The Texans in the final minute had a chance to win, but Randy Bullock's field goal attempt that counted (after three that didn't) went wide. The Texans won the toss, though, and marched down the field for the game-winning score.
I don't know what to say about this game. Locker made some good throws, but finished with 148 yards passing on 30 dropbacks (not counting four sacks). The Titans did a great job of opening up holes in the run game, for the most part, but Jackie Battle was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 and Chris Johnson failed to crack 100 yards despite 25 carries and was safetied. The defense was great for most of the game after the opening drive score. Zach Brown was completely unblockable and blowing up plays right after left for much of the game, but he only showed up for tackles late in the game for tackles downfield. The coverage was great for much of the game, then the Texans made about all the plays late.
Where do the Titans go from here? If you told me before the season started the Titans would be 1-1 and the loss came in overtime, I would have been happy. If you told me the Titans would be 1-1 when they were up 24-16 getting the ball with 4 minutes to play I would be disappointed. The first home game is next week, against a San Diego team that's 1-1 with both games coming down to a field goal at the end. More on whatever happened today later this week.no comments