For the first time in a long time, the Titans can't run the football. Place the blame on whoever you want to, it doesn't make a difference because they still can't run the football regardless of who's screwing up. They're awful. A sham of a joke of a mockery. Someone needs to either be held accountable or Here's hoping that this is the week the CJ and the offensive line exploit a weak defense for big yardage. Moving on, we'll revisit this later in the post.
As you may have noticed, Matt Hasselbeck and co. have been awesome so far. We were promised wily veteran leadership and we got amazing quarterback play. It's easy to hop on the Hasselbeck train right now. Even though there have already been 33 300 yard passing games this year (as opposed to 21 through week three in 2010), Hasselbeck has really stood out in the accuracy department. He currently trails only Tom Brady and is basically tied with Aaron Rodgers in completion percentage on the year. That's not replacement-level-scrap-heap-QB-good, that's scary good. He's also attempted the ninth most passes per game this year with just over 37 per contest. Suffice it to say, these aren't your father's Titans. The question is: is that a good thing? This team has all but abandoned the Fisher-era's grind it out tactics. The answer: So far, this is a staggeringly good thing.
Allow me to reiterate something: I hate abandoning the running game, especially when you have Chris Johnson who relies on a very small percentage of his carries to gain 50 yards in one carry. But at this point, I don't suppose I can really blame Chris Palmer for doing it. Part of me believes that he hasn't been the same ol' CJ because he hasn't gotten the chance to. The 2.3 YPC is CJ without the big run, obviously. This is the only part of the Fisher era I actually kind of miss for some reason. When Fish wanted to feel like a winner, he ran CJ 25 times up the gut every game. The odds that CJ would break off a long one with that amount of carries was in our favor. That's where Johnson's "elite" label comes from; his ability to take one play and instantly change a game. It's totally a game of chance where this carry comes in the game, but whether it came at the beginning (like against Oakland) or at the end (like against Jacksonville), it came because Johnson got the ball about once every three plays. At this time last year, CJ was approaching the century mark in carries and was averaging 25 per week. This year, he's got 15.3 carries per game. That's ten fewer opportunities to exploit a tired defensive player who's taking a play off, ten fewer opportunities to execute the blocking perfectly, and most importantly, ten fewer opportunities to score points on long, backbreaking runs.
If I were a CJ fantasy owner, I'd be pretty livid about this lack of involvement. But I'm not, I root for the laundry. If Johnson getting fewer touches helps the laundry get the W, so be it.
Just for the heck of it, let's stir the pot a little bit and blame the offensive line too. Pass blocking is excellent, much love for the pass blocking. More on that later, right now let's focus on how they are tarnishing the franchises bread and butter play for the last decade or so. Inside runs aren't sexy, but when executed correctly, they can really cause problems. But when they get blown up on the reg because the guards and center are getting manhandled at the line of scrimmage? That's a big freakin' issue. Fire someone, hire someone else, get Hall back in the game, I don't care, just fix it now. The offense's opportunity to be special rests in the hands of our 50 million dollar man, and to an equal extent, the fat guys blocking for him.
On with the incoherent rambling let's do some tin-foil hatting.
I have a theory: Chris Johnson being the focal point of everybody's game plan is really funking things up for him and opening up loads of new possibilities for Hasslebeck and the peanut gallery plus Nate Washington. Crazy right? Just bear with me: maybe now that Hasselbeck has thrown all over creation, new running lanes will begin to open up for scapegoat over there.
Well, enough speculating, on to Cleveland. Give 'em hell boys.
P.S. Jared Cook, if you're in there, please make sure you show up to this week's game, you have the power to make this a lot better. Thanks.