Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review of Titans vs Colts - Offense

Coming off a big road win against the Buffalo Bills where Chris Johnson has his best game of the year, The 3 and 4 Tennessee Titans return home to host the surging Indianapolis Colts. The Titans had won 2 games in a row including a big Thursday Night Football win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Could the Titans keep their offensive momentum rolling? Let's take a look.

Before I begin, I want to say I really appreciate the job Matt Hasselbeck has done for the Titans. He pretty much singlehandedly saved the 2011 season. He handled Bud Adams' courting of Peyton Manning with as much class as you could expect. He handled the quarterback competition with Jake Locker just as well, and from all appearances has been nothing short of an excellent teammate.

Having said all that, I am going to be a bit critical of his performance in this game. Don't get me wrong, he had solid numbers and make some good plays. He finished the game 22 of 29 for 236 yards and a touchdown. He did not throw an interception, although he could have but more on that later. He took 2 sacks and fumbled a snap (more on that later too) but recovered it.

He is a good game managing quarterback who spreads the ball around and who does well. He just can't seem to make the big play anymore to seal a victory, and at times makes some head scratching decisions for a veteran quarterback.He has been pretty lucky not to be intercepted more this year. For the record, the Colts ran 74 plays while the Titans ran 56. Look also at how many yards each possession produces. I think that is really telling.

The offense starts to sputter in the 3rd quarter. The first possession is a 3 and out. The second possession leads to a missed Rob Bironas field goal. On that possession, Hasselbeck throws a screen pass in coverage to Kendall Wright, who doesn't turn toward his blockers that only goes for 4 yards. He doesn't even look at Jared Cook who is in man coverage with Jerraud Powers and has him beat.

As far as the missed field goal is concerned, the only thing I can say is that wind wasn't a factor and Bironas just hit it to the right and it was WIDE right. In any event, the Titans hold the ball a little less than 6 minutes in the 3rd quarter.

The plays in particular I want to talk about occur in the 4th quarter. The Titans start the 4th quarter with the ball 1st and 10 on the Tennessee 30 yard line. The Titans are up 10 to 6. The Titans have a nice drive going and have the ball 1 and 10 on the 10 yard line. The Titans run CJ one play up the middle for 3 yards, leading to a 2 and 7, and end up with a field goal out of the possession. What happens on 2 and 3rd down are really telling so let's look at them in detail.

On 2nd down, Hasselbeck inexplicably fumbles the snap. There really is no explanation for this occurrence, but it drives the ball back to the 11 yard line.

What is even more maddening about that fumble is that rookie tight end Taylor Thompson was wide open and could have waltzed into the end zone.

On 3rd and 11, Hasselbeck is in the shotgun formation looking to pass and he takes a sack. It will go down as a coverage sack but let's take a look. First, he has Reynaud open on a screen pass to his right with daylight, but he doesn't throw him the ball.

On that same play, Jared Cook is one on one over the middle with daylight and he doesn't get targeted either. Kendall Wright ends up open in the endzone along with Reynaud. Hasselbeck ultimately turns his back on his receivers trying to escape and ends up with a sack.

On the next Titans offensive drive, Hasselbeck again has Cook one on one on 2 and 9 but just overthrows him. This drive maddens me more than anything. We go have a nice drive going and then Hasselbeck overthrows Cook on 2 and 9. Cook was again one on one and had that pass connected would have surely been a touchdown.One side note here I'm not sure why Cook and Washington appear to be running toward the same spot but in any event Cook heads toward the end zone.

The third down play was an incomplete pass to Kenny Britt. This is where Hasselbeck almost gets intercepted. He throws into coverage and the ball just hits Pat Angerer in the check and he just doesn't hold onto it.

On 4th and 9, we elected to punt. I hate this decision. In all fairness, a field goal would have been roughly 60 yards and Bironas has made one of those. He also missed a 45 yard field goal try earlier. You play to win the game though and we elected to play not to lose. I really thought Munchak had more of a different mentality.

In good news, Chris Johnson still looks good and almost broke 100 yards. he ended the day with 22 carries and 99 yards. He did drop a screen pass but he made up on it the next play with a first down run. I was particularly impressed with this run at 10:33 in the first quarter.

The wide receivers I thought did well even after being victimized by 3 terrible offensive pass interference calls. The 2nd OPI on Kenny Britt was particularly bad because it negated a touchdown.

All Britt did was move Powers' arm off him who either just falls down or flops. A terrible call but what was worse was the call on Kendall Wright. Even the announcers couldn't justify that call. Having said that I absolutely love the aggressiveness and I hope the receivers don't change a thing.

Nate Washington just continues to make plays and Kendall Wright is really coming along well. He had the only touchdown pass of the day for the Titans. The catch was simply amazing.

It is no secret that tight end Jared Cook is unhappy, and with good reason. According to Jim Wyatt who covers the Titans for the Tennessean, Cook was on the field for 25 of the team’s 59 offensive snaps (42 percent) as the Titans lost to the Colts 19-13 in overtime on Sunday. He was targeted only four times and finished with three catches for 45 yards. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck overthrew Cook on what would have been a go-ahead touchdown in the final minutes.

Cook has played less than 50 percent of the snaps in six of the eight games so far. He was limited against the Lions and Texans because of a shoulder injury.All these stats were taken from Wyatt's article here|newswell|text|Sports|s&nclick_check=1.

I have talked a little bit about how Cook had opportunities earlier in the blog. the Titans simply must get him the ball more it is inconceivable that he doesn't play more and get more targets.

Not really much to say this week about the offensive line except that overall I thought the young guys did well. Fernando Velasco is just a beast.

Mike Otto I thought acquited himself really well.

My final word is that I find it so hard to believe we could only score 13 points with all the talent we have on our offense. I think the Titans need Jake Locker back in the offense and that a playmaker at quarterback could make a big difference and help the team score more points.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mid-Season Awards - Who Ya Got for MVP?

Its week 8 Titans fans and time for some mid season fun. Who is your Most Valuable Player for the Titans midway through the season? Here are some of my candidates:

Linebacker Akeem Ayers:

Ayers is tied at #6 in the league (Antoine Winfield, CB, Vikings) for total number of tackles with 60 total tackles, 37 solo, 1 sack and 3 passes defended. The second year player out of UCLA plays strongside linebacker for the Titans and has started since day one, leading all Titans linebackers in 2011 with 88 tackles. He was credited with 2 sacks, 3 tackles for a loss and 7 quarterback pressures.

Safety Jordan Babineaux:

Big Play Babs is currently 22 in the league in totals tackles with 52, 36 of them solo. He has 1 interception and has been credited with 4 passes defended. A 9th year player, he joined the Titans just before the 2011 season and played in all 16 games, 14 of them as a starter. He lead the team with 117 tackles. He also had 7 passes defended and a 97 yard interception return for a touchdown.

Cornerback Jason McCourty:


The 4th year player has a team leading 2 interceptions, 39 total tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, and 5 passes defended. His two interceptions both came in the 4th quarter and both helped the Titans seal a victory against the Steelers and the Bills.

Defensive Tackle Jurrell Casey:

I'm a big fan of the big guy. The second year player doesn't have a ton of big time statistics he is just a guy who is a big time component of this defense. When he is healthy the defensive line is just so much better. Quick and agile for his size, he leads the team in tackles for a loss at 4 with teammates Alterran Verner and Derrick Morgan, and has 24 tackles of which 15 are solo.

Defensive End Derrick Morgan:

The third year player entered the season with a ton of question marks regarding his abilities and he is finally beginning to show the talent he possesses. One of the team leaders in tackles for a loss at 4, he also has 2 sacks, 29 tackles 3 passes defended and 1 fumble recovery.

Running back Chris Johnson:

Despite a slow start, CJ is currently 11th in the league in rushing statistics with 496 yards, 2 touchdowns, and a 4.5 YPC. CJ's struggles in 2011 are well documented but he is making a strong candidate to be in line for MVP this year if he keeps up his current pace. 

Wide Receiver Nate Washington:

He doesn't have dazzling statistics but any Titans fan knows he makes dazzling plays for this team. The 8th year player is 40th in the league in player receiving statistics with 23 catches out of 43 targets, 374 total receiving yards, 3 touchdowns and a 16.3 average per catch. He does lead the Titans in receiving and has been money on making the big plays the Titans need in the offense.

Rookies of the Year:

Wide Receiver Kendall Wright:

The first round draft pick has started every game this year and is currently 3rd in receiving yards with 36 receptions (55 targets) for 304 yards, 2 touchdowns and an 8.4 yards per catch. He leads the team in yards after catch with 159 yards. He is also tied with running back Chris Johnson for most 1st downs at 20. 

Linebacker Zach Brown:

 Despite not starting the season at linebacker, second round pick Brown is currently ranked 6th in total team tackles at 37, 23 of them solo. He has 1 sack, 3 tackles for a loss, 1 pass defended and 1 forced fumble. Getting better every game, it wouldn't surprise me if he didn't end up the team leader in total tackles.

Defensive Tackle Mike Martin:


I really thought hard about putting rookie DT Martin in the MVP slot he is playing so well.  The third round draft pick easily cracked the defensive line rotation and is playing a lot of snaps for the Titans. Quick and agile like fellow DT Jurrell Casey, he is currently 10th on the team in total tackles at 24 with 13 of them solo. He has also has 2 sacks and 3 tackles for a loss.

What say you Titans fans? Who do YOU think is on the radar for team MVP?