At some point the Tennessee Titans will have to learn that you must play football for 4 quarters. Yet again we saw this team play like crap for one half, and play well in the other. This time it was an inversion of the Bengals game, but the results was the same.
One thought I had late in the 4th quarter: How big are the smiles on the faces of our draft scouts? Colin McCarthy played much, much better than Ruud again, and Jake Locker played like a young Steve McNair. His play will certainly be the headline over the course of the week, along with the health of Hasselbeck, who left the game in the third quarter with an apparent elbow/forearm injury.
Locker, the last of this year's crop of first round QBs to play in the regular season, showed me why they took him over guys like Gabbert and Ponder. His mobility kept plays alive while the offensive line forgot how to pass block and limped through injuries to Stewart and Harris. Locker let a few passes go high, but he's got a cannon for an arm and never panicked in the face of pressure. The tempo on offense was notably different after he tried to clean up for what has to be Hasselbeck's worst performance of the year. I doubt it will be enough to unseat Hasselebck just yet, but it's got to make Titans fans feel much more confident about the future of the QB position in Nashville.
For all of Locker's heroics we just couldn't overcome missed tackles, completely unproductive running plays and unforgivable penalties. At least three times the defense kept the Falcons on the field with pointless penalties. I can't believe we're among the top 5 teams in the league in penalties with a coach like Mike Munchak. Look for that to become a big point of focus moving forward.
Also what the hell happened to Damian Williams? He follows up his break-out game by making 1 catch on 11 targets, and dropping a big 3rd down catch for Locker... hell, between the two of them Williams and Hawkins totaled 16 targets that resulted in 2 catches for 48 yards and no touchdowns. At least Hawkins' catch was a highlight one, but making one nice play every four weeks is a great recipe for ending up bagging groceries.
So we're back at .500, starting to see a pattern of good-bad-good performances. The final analysis of this team will most likely be that they're good enough to beat bad teams, but not good enough to beat the better teams in this league. That's not the worst place to be for a team that's rebuilding under a new coach and dropped a top 10 pick on a QB. Still, it's frustrating to watch this squad make the same mistakes over and over again.
Jimmy and I will record another episode of MCM Radio tonight at 9:30 CST, and you can join in to listen and chat here.