Archive for October, 2007

Titans receivers don’t have sticky fingers

October 31, 2007

At a tailgate last Sunday morning, someone asked, “What’s wrong with Bo Scaife?”
I answered, “He’s been hanging around Ben Troupe too long. Troupe is starting to rub off on him.”
Everyone laughed, probably because it was more sadly true than funny.
Troupe and the other tight ends and receivers did not have a good day, nor did anyone expect them to.
Just about everyone knew what the game plans for each team would be going into the Titans-Raiders game. Both teams wanted to run the ball and needed to stop the other from running. The final stats show the Titans more than doubled up the Raiders in rushing yardage. If only they had an aerial attack to complement it, they could have won easily. (more…)

Smash-mouth football powers Titans to victory

October 29, 2007

Smash-mouth football is alive and well in Nashville. Utilizing a powerful combination of a stout running attack and a physical performance from the defense, the Tennessee Titans continued their march towards a playoff birth by defeating the Oakland Raiders 13-9. 
The strength of the Titans’ offense continues to be the running game. Led by a second consecutive 100 yard plus showing from LenDale White, the Titans’ running game was able to impose its will against a helpless Raider run defense, accumulating an impressive 192 yards on the afternoon. Rookie Chris Henry also contributed to the Titans’ ground success, averaging 12 yards per carry in a limited amount of opportunities, including a scintillating 24 yard touchdown run that accounted for the Titans’ only touchdown of the day.
Good football teams consist of players who are able to step in for injured teammates and emerge as viable contributors. Chris Brown’s most recent injury has provided Henry with the opportunity to step up and emerge as a speedy complement to the more powerful running style of LenDale White. We should all be excited about Henry’s potential in the offense for the remainder of the season and beyond.
The Tennessee Titan defense is quickly emerging as one of the league’s most dominating units. After giving up three Sebastian Janikowski field goals in the first half, the physical Titan defense shut out the Raiders in the second half of the contest. The Titans’ tenacious defense harassed Raider starting quarterback Daunte Culpepper all afternoon, forcing him to lose a fumble while sacking him five times. Lamont Jordan was held to a putrid 16 yard performance on 12 carries by the Titans’ #1 ranked run defense.
Standout individual performances from the defense included David Thornton’s twelve  tackles, Travis Laboy’s two sack performance and the dominating play and presence of “Fat” Albert Haynesworth, who during a contract season, is probably earning himself millions in next year’s free agent market.
As a result of yesterday’s victory, the Titans are currently tied with Jacksonville for 2nd place in the fiercely competitive AFC South division. Collectively, the teams in perhaps the NFL’s strongest division have combined for a 20-9 overall record, with the undefeated and defending world champion Indianapolis Colts leading the way with a 7-0 mark. 
Jeff Fisher’s smash-mouth brand of football will need to continue to be effective if the Titans expect to attain their goal of reaching the postseason.

Titans’ lines key 13-9 win over Raiders

October 28, 2007

As Vince Young struggled in his return from injury, the Titans’ offensive and defensive lines put up another dominating performance to lead the team to a 13-9 win over the Raiders. Chris Henry rushed the ball 24 yards for a 3rd quarter score, as LenDale White set a career high in rushing yards for the second week in a row.

Titans vs Raiders: Keys to victory

October 27, 2007

One of college football’s most storied programs, the USC Trojans, will be well represented on the sidelines in this week’s NFL match-up between the Tennessee Titans (4-2) and the Oakland Raiders (2-4). Titans’ head coach/USC alum Jeff Fisher (1977-80) will match wits with the youngest head coach in NFL history, Lane Kiffin, who served as USC’s offensive coordinator (2005-06) before being hired by the Raiders. The man who Kiffin replaced at USC, Norm Chow (2001-04), is currently the Titans’ offensive coordinator.
Jeff Fisher’s Tennessee Titans are currently tied for second place behind the Colts in the competitive AFC South division. Under Kiffin, the 2007 edition of the Silver and Black has been an improvement over last season’s abysmal 2-14 squad that earned the unworthy distinction of being the NFL’s worst team. However, despite being a more competitive team this season, the Raiders are in danger of losing their third consecutive game.
To earn their fifth win and continue their pursuit of a postseason birth, the Titans should focus on accomplishing the following three objectives:
Turn red zone opportunities into touchdowns
Lost in the greatness of Rob Bironas’ record-breaking eight field goal performance was the Titans’ inability to score touchdowns in the red zone. Currently, the Titans are the NFL’s 27th ranked team in red zone touchdown percentage, converting touchdowns on only 9 of their 26 opportunities (34.6%) inside the red zone.
If the Titans are to realize their offensive potential, they must do a better job of turning red zone scoring opportunities into touchdowns. Instead of Bironas consistently trotting on to the field to kick field goals, we need to see him kicking more extra points.
Exploit Oakland’s Fumble-itis
During last week’s 38-36 win over the Texans, the Titans’ defense was able to force six Houston turnovers. This week, the Titans face a Raiders’ squad that is tied for the league lead in fumbles (17). Oakland quarterback Daunte Culpepper is notorious for losing the football on a consistent basis, coughing up the football an astronomical 87 times in 89 career games. As a result of Culpepper and the Raiders’ propensity for putting the football on the ground, the opportunistic Tennessee Titan defense should have some chances to recover fumbles on Sunday.
Prevent Oakland’s long runs
The Raiders currently own the league’s 4th best rushing attack, averaging close to 146 yards per game on the ground. The Raiders have been extremely effective turning rushing attempts into big plays: they are currently tied for 2nd in the league with 10 runs going for 20 yards or longer. The Titans’ #1 ranked run defense must be up to the task of preventing Lamont Jordan and Justin Fargas from turning routine carries into long scampers. 

Titans vs Raiders preview

October 25, 2007

The Tennessee Titans (4-2) begin a three-game homestand by hosting the Oakland Raiders (2-4) this Sunday. The Titans held on to beat the Texans 38-36 last week, while the Raiders suffered a very tough 12-10 loss to the Chiefs.
Field: grass. Forecast: Partly cloudy, with a high near 63°. North wind 5-10 mph.
Oakland scouting report:
Overview — After only four games this year, the Raiders matched last season’s win total of two games, so improvement is being made under new head coach Lane Kiffin. That’s only if you look at their record. When you look a little closer, the Silver and Black still have a lot of work to do before they can live up to their motto of Commitment to Excellence. (more…)

Titans making a few personnel moves

October 25, 2007

Less than a day after I speculated on the possibility of Michael Griffin practicing at safety, The Tennessean and The Nashville City Paper reported this morning that the Titans are now confirming Michael Griffin has indeed been practicing at safety for a few weeks. Titans coach Jeff Fisher said Griffin would be seeing more playing time, but declined to say at what position or if Griffin would be a starter. Don’t be surprised if you see him start at free safety Sunday, replacing Calvin Lowry.
Defensive tackle Corey Simon is expected to announce his retirement. He’s been a disappointment this year, with only one tackle in four games. The Titans took a chance on him and guessed wrong. With only three DTs left on the roster, they’ll need another and the Falcons have just released Grady Jackson. Other teams are in the market for his services as well.
He’s got some baggage, so I’m not sure if Jackson would be a good fit or not, but the Titans need a body and Jackson is a very big body who can clog up the middle.
Earlier this year it looked like depth at DT wouldn’t be a problem for the Titans. Besides the three remaining DTs, Albert Haynesworth, Tony Brown and Randy Starks, the Titans also had Rien Long, Jesse Mahelona and Antonio Johnson.

The Titans are fortunate to have Bironas

October 24, 2007

I didn’t always feel good about Rob Bironas. I recall watching him and Ola Kimrin battle it out in training camp several years ago, and while Bironas clearly won the job, he wasn’t particularly impressive doing so.
Bironas had a decent but unspectacular rookie campaign. Several things from that season caused me concern. The only clutch kick he made that year was a chip shot, so he was still, in my mind, untested under pressure. He also missed two PATs that season.
The 2006 season was much better, highlighted by his 60-yard game-winner against the Colts, all the more impressive considering the poor field conditions. That was his second game-winning kick in as many weeks to beat teams quarterbacked by someone named Manning. The first one was a mere 49-yard routine effort. (more…)

Titans vs Texans: The good, the bad and the ugly

October 22, 2007

Chaotic finishes are becoming the norm in the annual meeting in Houston between the Titans and the Texans. Last year, Vince Young’s unforgettable scamper into the end zone provided the Titans with a thrilling 26-20 overtime victory over the Texans. On Sunday, Kerry Collins’ clutch throw to Roydell Williams set the Titans up for Rob Bironas’ record-breaking 8th field goal in their wild 38-36 victory over the Texans.

Yesterday’s excruciating win consisted of several standout Titan performances as well as some forgettable ones.

The Good

Rob Bironas

Prior to yesterday’s contest, Bironas had successfully kicked 8 field goals through the uprights this year.  In one afternoon, he doubled his output for the season with an NFL record 8 field goal performance.

Kerry Collins

Collins performed his role as the team’s veteran QB backup to perfection yesterday. Stepping in for an injured Vince Young, Collins completed 25 of 42 passes for 280 yards, including a clutch throw to Roydell Williams that set up the game winning field goal. Collins was able to effectively manage the game and make the plays when the team needed him the most.

The running game

The Titans were able to accumulate 155 yards on the ground yesterday, led by LenDale White’s 104 yard rushing performance. Chris Henry, playing in his first NFL game, showed some glimpses of the talent that made him a second round selection in last year’s draft, displaying a nice combination of speed and power while also scoring his first NFL touchdown. It will be interesting to see if Henry can continue to produce when given the opportunity to carry the football.

The Bad

Red Zone Inefficiency

Masked by Rob Bironas’s impressive kicking display was the team’s inability to score in the red zone. The Titans converted touchdowns on only two of their nine attempts in Houston’s red zone yesterday. The Titans’ inability to score touchdowns opened the door for Houston’s stunning 4th quarter comeback by allowing them to stick around in a game they had no business being in.

The Ugly

4th quarter defense

For three quarters, the Titans did their best imitation of the 1985 Chicago Bears’ defense, stifling Houston’s offensive attack through the means of punishing hits and excellent defensive play. Quarterback Matt Schaub was knocked out of the game not once, but twice and the Titans’ physical defense forced six Houston turnovers.

Visions of the 85 Bears’ defense quickly faded into oblivion during the tumultuous 4th quarter, as the Titans’ defense allowed 29 points to the rejuvenated Houston offense. Sage Rosenfels all of a sudden became Tom Brady-like, connecting with Houston receivers for four touchdowns during the 4th quarter.

The Titans are now 4-2 and are emerging as a possible playoff contender in the extremely competitive American Football Conference. With yesterday’s inconsistent yet victorious performance behind them, the Titans must continue to improve if their dreams of reaching the postseason are to become a reality.



Titans nearly blow lead, saved by NFL-record FG

October 21, 2007

The final score was simple, Titans 38 – Texans 36, but the process of getting there was not so simple. The Titans dominated the Houston Texans for the first three quarters of their game today, but the Texans staged a massive fourth quarter comeback to take the lead, only for the Titans to win on Rob Bironas’ last second NFL-record 8th field goal of the game.

Breaking News: Collins will start; Vince #2

October 21, 2007

According to ESPN and Chris Mortenson, Kerry Collins will be the starting quarterback for today’s game against the Texans.  Vince Young will be active for the game, and will serve as the team’s #2 qb.
Collins will be expected to manage the game effectively and to avoid the turnover bug.
If Collins is unable to move the Titan offense, it will be interesting to see if Young will enter the game at some point. The perfect storyline for the outcome of this game would be for Young to heroically emerge from the bench to rescue the Titans from the clutches of defeat, sticking yet another dagger into his hometown franchise that decided to pass him up in the 2006 draft.