|Will Jared Cook be wearing two-tone blue in 2013?|
In April and June, I wrote about the Titans who were in the final year of their contracts. Now that the Titans have played three quarters of the season, it's a good time to revisit the subject. These are the starters, plus a few notables, whose contracts expire at the end of the season.
TE Jared Cook - There's no doubt Cook is an extremely talented tight end, and one who could become a top tier TE in a system that more frequently utilized those talents. Tom has written on several occasions about the two different offenses the Titans employed under Chris Palmer - the Craig Stevens offense and the Jared Cook offense - so the decision whether or not to re-sign Cook (or to franchise him) will be a philosophical one by the Titans. How committed are they to the "Jared Cook offense"?
The Titans will be traveling to Indianapolis to take on the Colts this Sunday, which means it's time for another installment of my normal Titans-Colts Q&A with Nate Dunlevy of Colts Authority and Bleacher Report. The new look Colts have kept winning while the Titans have not, so if there's anything you want me to ask about the new hotness in the AFC South, post your question in the comments and I'll pass it along.no comments
The NFL this year has begun keeping track of player participation data on a weekly basis and releasing it to the media. Here's how they have the Titans lining up in Week 13's home loss to the Texans.
Offense (75 total)
QB: Jake Locker 75
RB/FB: Chris Johnson 72, Quinn Johnson 4, Darius Reynaud 3
TE: Jared Cook 64, Craig Stevens 21, Taylor Thompson 9
WR: Nate Washington 68, Kenny Britt 66, Kendall Wright 54, Damian Williams 14
OL: Deuce Lutui 75, Fernando Velasco 75, Michael Roos 74, Mike Otto 72, Kevin Matthews 52, Steve Hutchinson 24, David Stewart 3
Defense (73 total)
DE: Derrick Morgan 55, Kamerion Wimbley 37, Jarius Wynn 25, Scott Solomon 16
DT: Jurrell Casey 60, Sen'Derrick Marks 58, Mike Martin 19, Karl Klug 8
LB: Zach Brown 71, Akeem Ayers 55, Tim Shaw 42, Will Witherspoon 31
CB: Jason McCourty 73, Alterraun Verner 73, Coty Sensabaugh 18
S: Michael Griffin 72, Jordan Babineaux 65, Robert Johnson 17, Al Afalava 8
Xavier Adibi, Patrick Bailey, Beau Brinkley, Tommie Campbell, Collin Mooney, and Tracy Wilson each appeared only on special teams. Matt Hasselbeck was active but did not appear in the game.
Well, I was thinking it might be 30-17. Instead, today's game at LP Field between the Titans and the Houston Texans ended with the Texans winning 24-10. They went up early, on a 58-yard touchdown pass where Michael Griffin went for the interception and missed on a play where he absolutely could not miss. Jake Locker got the Titans down to field goal range with the help of Jared Cook, then last seven pass attempts in the first quarter, at which point it was 14-3. The Titans got to field goal range in the middle of the second quarter, than Chris Johnson fumbled. The Titans forced a punt after an inadvertent whistle negated any return of the fumble, but Locker's pass was tipped, and the Texans turned starting at the 3 into a 21-3 lead. At that point, it was pretty much all over but the shouting. Locker would play better in the second half, finding Kenny Britt for a big score to cut the lead to 24-10, but that was it for the scoring.
1. Offensive line injuries didn't help the Titans one bit. David Stewart broke his leg. Steve Hutchinson left the game for a while, though he returned briefly when Michael Roos was hurt (though Roos would quickly return). Fernando Velasco appeared to be shaken up on the last offensive play of the game. Backup guard Kevin Matthews, who had play extensively, was flagged for holding a couple times.
2. Free Jared Cook? If CBS's PBP is right, including plays negated by penalty, he had 15 targets. What counted: 4 catches, 51 yards. That's not good enough.
3. The Titans seemed to play Jared Cook and Craig Stevens at the same time a lot. Meanwhile, I didn't notice Collin Mooney in the game on offense, though I could easily have missed him for a couple plays.
4. The Titans almost seemed to be holding rolling safety auditions throughout the game to see who played next to Michael Griffin. Jordan Babineaux, Al Afalava, and Robert Johnson, who would be carted off late, all played and played early.
5. Matt Schaub, 0 sacks on 36 dropbacks.
Bottom line: a pretty good team beat a not very good one today.no comments
It's December already? Yes, it is, even if it doesn't feel like it, and the Titans close the third quarter of the season with a rematch against the Houston Texans, this time at LP Field. The Texans are banged up this week, with starters or quasi-starters guard Antoine Caldwell, tackle Derek Newton, inside linebacker Bradie James, outside linebacker Brooks Reed, cornerback Johnathan Joseph, and Joseph's sometime-replacement cornerback Alan Ball all inactive along with backup guard Cody White. That means regular nickelback Brice McCain, who's struggled at times in that role after playing superlatively there last year, will play on the outside, likely, while second-year man Brandon Harris, who's struggled to find the field, will probably play nickel. Given how often the Texans play dime sets, given their lack of depth I hope the Titans to try to spread the field and play lots of 3-WR packages this time.
For the Titans, Colin McCarthy is out with his concussion; Mike Munchak indicated Tim Shaw would play in base packages and Will Witherspoon in nickel; apparently "no Akeem Ayers in the nickel except as a rusher" has become somewhat of an imperative, if they actually line up how Munchak indicated they'll line up. This makes a certain amount of sense, but only a certain amount. Ryan Mouton is a healthy inactive this week, thus completing his season-long transition from backup nickelback in preseason to starting nickelback the first half or so of the season to backup nickelback and now inactive. Jamie Harper, listed as questionable, is inactive, while Damian Williams, also questionable, is playing and Lavelle Hawkins is down again. Collin Mooney, brought up off the practice squad yesterday, is active, and it'll be interesting to see what role he plays with fellow fullback Quinn Johnson also active; judging by who's up, my desire to see more spread looks against a depleted secondary will not be met.
The big question for the Titans is of course what Dowell Loggains will do offensively; it's hard to change too many things in one week. Jake Locker indicated a desire to see fewer or no option routes; Loggains at his media session Thursday meanwhile stressed that every offense had option routes. Perhaps I read too much into things, but he stressed that at some point it's up to the players to go out and execute between the lines on Sunday. I think he saw the same thing I saw, that some of the Titans' flaws against the Jaguars were simple lack of execution not related to OMG Chris Palmer Loser Fired Browns Texans Old! One thing more likely to be changed in a single week is the use of heavier protections. As I've written before, Palmer believed in primarily 5+1-man protection schemes and getting more players out in routes. Given Locker's occasional issues with getting crushed by a guy that protection made him accountable for, I wouldn't be too surprised to see more 7-man protections, which may (or may not) also mean deeper routes.
Anyway, I'll be chiming in from time to time on Twitter with my thoughts on today's game, so feel free to follow and yap at me there.no comments
To help get a better eye on the Texans before this week's game, I once again turned to Steph Stradley. Steph was voted the ultimate Texans fan in 2006 and when not practicing law in Houston writes the Texans Chick blog on the Houston Chronicle's website. You can also follow her on Twitter @StephStradley, where she says smart things about the Texans and mean things about Bud Adams. In addition to answering questions from me, she also sent me questions I answered over at Texans Chick.
In an effort to keep things fresh and interesting, I tried not to duplicate things I asked her in our first exchange, so check that out for more information on the Texans. On with the new Q&A.
Total Titans: 458 yards and 37 points against the Jaguars. 525 yards and 31 points against the Lions. What the heck is going on with the Texans defense, especially a pass defense that's allowed 791 yards the past two games, that wasn't happening earlier in the season?no comments
One of the things I've looked at here over the past couple years from time to time is what effect starting field position has had on how effective the Titans have been at scoring or conceding points. I think the first time I did it was when I tried to compare how the offense fared in 2009 under Kerry Collins to how it fared under Vince Young, and I've kept it up since. I actually planned this post as one of my bye week updates, but didn't get the chance to write it then. Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer's firing makes now a great time to look at it, though, because when I got the chance to run the numbers, the comparison to 2011 was striking.
The methodology is basically the same it's been in the past. Touchdowns are worth 7 points. Made field goals are worth 3 points. Missed field goals are worth 2 points. All other drives are worth 0 points. End of half/game drives ending in kneeldowns are excluded, as are desperation drives that don't end in points (e.g., the final drive against Jacksonville last week). I'm not trying to cheat the numbers in any way, and frankly the results surprised me.
So, let's see those results. Chart? Chart.