Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Good, The Bad a & The Ugly - Jets MNF

The 6-7 New York Jets came to Nashville Monday night hoping to keep their playoff hopes alive against the 4-9 Tennessee Titans. Already eliminated from playoff contention, and with the future of the coaching staff and front office in question, eyes were on the Titans to see how well they would fare on Monday Night Football.

LP Field was once a place where opponents found it difficult to play but the Titans had only won 2 games at home prior to hosting the Jets. The Titans have clearly struggled at home as of late particularly in 2012 so it was important for them to defend their home turf and they did. The Titans beat the Jets 14 to 10 but the performance can only be called sloppy. So without further ado let's take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly.


The Titans defense keeps playing better. A lot of people will mark this game off saying it was Sanchez and the Jets but let's not forget the Jets have won 6 games and have a pretty good running game. Sanchez has definitely struggled due to inconsistency and the Titans defense is now blitzing regularly and getting a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Jets have a good offensive line but the Titans sacked the Jets 4 times for 24 yards. The Titans also intercepted Sanchez 4 times and forced a fumble and are now -5 in the turnover ratio.
Cornerback Jason McCourty, not to be outdone by twin Devin McCourty of the Patriots, intercepted Sanchez twice and now leads the team with 4 interceptions on the year. I think McCourty is playing very well and for the most part has very good coverage abilities.
Safety Michael Griffin also registered 2 interceptions and now has 3 interceptions on the year. After a slow start, Griffin has come on and played fairly well in the second part of the season. A standup guy, it is good to see him playing better.
Speaking of Griffin, the Titans are blitzing a lot more and it is effective and this safety blitz ended a drive for the Jets. Griffin is very good in this blitz package and the Titans have used it successfully in the past.

I singled this play out for another reason and that is to illustrate something I have long said about defensive end Kam Wimbley. He gets held a lot and it doesn't get called and he often will shake free and make the play anyway. Like here.
I would hide too
In large part the Titans defense made it miserable for the Jets offense. One final note I want to mention is that defensive end Derrick Morgan doens't get enough credit for how well he is playing. The guy is having a solid year and really has made it miserable for opposing offenses. He had a sack as well as a tackle for a loss, as well as a quarterback hit and 4 hurries.

Quarterback Jake Locker didn't have his best game, but he did cut out the turnovers. Locker finished 13 of 22 for 149 yards passing and 7 of 53 rushing including a rushing touchdown. I will have more on Locker later as we discuss some bad things from the game.
Running back Chris Johnson finally broke a long run for a touchdown. On 2 and 9 at the Tennessee 6 yard Johnson hit the gap his blockers set up for him and dashed for 94 yards to score setting a franchise record in the process.

Just a well executed play all around and it was nice to see the Titans starting to score touchdowns again!
However, the Titans really should have scored more which leads me to the bad.


The Titans did manage to score two rushing touchdowns, when your defense has 5 takeaways and you only score twice Houston we have a problem. Part of the problem stems from injuries to the offensive line, and that unit took another hit when Kevin Matthews went down with a high ankle sprain and is done for the year. Rookie wide receiver Kendall Wright also suffered an injury to his ribs and his availability is in question for the Green Bay game at the least.
I considered putting Loggains in the good but he made the bad list based in large part on the inability to capitalize and the ill conceived option play alone.

This play was doomed from the start and continues a list of head-scratching playcalling by this staff. While I do see improvement, plays like this one still leave me baffled.

I have to put Jake Locker's accuracy issues in the bad category although I still do think they are overstated and there is no doubt in my mind his injury is affecting him. I hate to criticize the offensive line too much because of the injury situation and I know those guys are doing the best they can but Locker's pocket begins to collapse within 2 seconds. He clearly doesn't trust his pocket and you can't blame him. At this point, I don't even know why he is under center at all he is just getting killed there.
I have watched I don't know how many hours of Locker film and he is clearly guarding his left shoulder. When he throws across his body is when you see it affect him the most, but it clearly affects him sometimes even when he is running. I hesitate to say the Titans made a mistake not shutting him down so he could have surgery but I do wonder how this might affect his confidence level going forward.
The Titans lack of depth at linebacker is concerning and this is an area that must be addressed. Starting middle linebacker Colin McCarthy has missed 7 games this season and the Titans have limited options behind him. Linebacker Tim Shaw did a good job in the past but he has a terrible game against the Jets.
Veteran Will Witherspoon has lost more than a step and is just a liability in coverage now. It wouldn't surprise me if the Titans didn't draft another linebacker in the mid rounds.

Along those same lines, the Titans were generally bad at stopping the Jets trickery plays. Tim Tebow came into the lineup and rushed for a first down and then converted a third down.

The Jets also successfully ran the wildcat formation.

Tebow was actually moving the offense fairly well until the Titans started to blitz him.
Hey Coach, did you see that play!?!?
Wait til you see what I do to ya now Tim!
You gonna let me play some more Coach??
The Titans began blitzing and Tebow had very little help.


The Titans were penalized 14 times for 111 yards. This is simply unacceptable. Safety Jordan Babineaux is a good player but he has clearly lost focus. He committed two costly penalties on the Jets first drive, one a holding where he tripped and tripped the receiver and the other a facemask. 

I do question the Titans handling of the safety position and I don't think it is all his fault. The good news is that he recovered and went on to have a good game.
Cornerback Alterraun Verner added a pass interference penalty on that drive and it was clearly a good call.
Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks cannot keep jumping offsides like he has been and really all the tackles have been lucky not to be flagged more for jumping early.
Finally, special teams was just putrid in this game and overall has played poorly the second half of the season. Kicker Rob Bironas missed his 4th kick of the season.

Clearly, the hold was not at issue here either.
The usually awesome Brett Kern had one good punt while punting 10 times. He averaged 39.1 yards per punt. He gets a pass because he is having a great year.

The Titans continue to make stupid mistakes and commit stupid penalties as well. Tommie Campbell once again committed a stupid special teams penalty, and the Titans aren't getting consistently good position on offense. In fact, I think its safe to say the opposite is true. Return man Darius Reynaud did generally make good decisions this game however. 
Finally, the Titans converted 2 third downs. 2 out of 13 shot and only ran 56 plays. This is completely unacceptable. Ultimately, the good outweighed the bad and ugly and the Titans were able to come away with the win.