Titans vs. Steelers: Five Questions with Behind the Steel Curtain

1.  In the match-up between these two teams last season the Titans were able to sack Big Ben 5 times and force him to throw 2 picks.  Is the Steelers offensive line better this season than it was last season?  

It's not clear if the Steelers offensive line will be any better than they were in 2008 when they allowed Big Ben to take a beating all year round. The personnel is largely the same, with only rookie guard Kraig Urbik replacing incumbent right guard starter Darnell Stapleton amongst the top 5. On the one hand, that has to concern Steelers fans. On the other, we all know how important continuity and experience playing together is, particularly at that position. So we'll just have to see if this group of mostly the same guys is better with a year of rough-and-tumble experience under their belts. Titans fans might want to keep an eye on right tackle Willie Colon, the whipping boy of the offensive line for Steelers fans last year. He reportedly had a great camp and has undeniably looked better in limited action this preseason. If he can take a step - and preferably two or three...big ones - forward this year, the line could be substantially better than it was a year ago.
2.  Obviously a lot has been made of the incident with the terrible towels at the end of last season's game.  I know that is a big deal to the fans, but do you think it adds any motivation for the team?

Well, Coach Mike Tomlin apparently spent all of five seconds talking about it. My guess is he said something along the lines of 'the team that wins gets to do the talking.'

3.  Do you think the Steelers can repeat in 2009?

Absolutely I think they can repeat. It begins and ends with their defense, which should again be at worst one of the league's five or ten best defenses. If you can keep Ben Roethlisberger in close ball games, we all know he can take over from there.

4.  Talk to us about Nate Washington.  He was the Titans biggest offseason acquisition.  Do you think he can be a #1 receiver in this league?  Why did the Steelers not make more of an effort to keep him?

No, he can not be a #1 receiver in this league. He's too frail and lacks confidence and guts catching the ball over the middle with a looming safety. He improved in that department during his time in Pittsburgh, but he's more or less a one-trick pony, and that's stretching the field. I will say though that he'd be a bigger asset if Vince Young were quarterback than if Kerry Collins is behind center. Why? Because Washington's also good when plays break down and the quarterback moves outside of the pocket trying to make something out of nothing. Obviously that's something Roethlisberger did/does a lot. And he often looked to Nate in those situations. I obviously don't see Collins breaking contain too often and trying to make a play outside of the pocket.
5.  Write the headline in Friday morning's Tennessean.

Steelers avenge desecration of Towel, mop up Titans 24-14
Hope Nate reads this before the game tonight.

Click here to see BTSC's questions for me and my answers.

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