Chris Johnson is back. No more wait and see, no more discounting him because of the level of competition. the man has taken a well-deserved beating for two years now, but now he's had legitimately good-to-great games over three of the last four weeks. The line has picked-up their play, and CJ is running with confidence, burst and the improvisational brilliance we got used to seeing. That doesn't mean that we'll 150+ each week with stops behind the line, but I think we're done with watching him average 1-2 YPC. Also helping the cause: we don't play more than one or two good rush defenses (Chicago and Miami) for the rest of the year. All of that sets the table for a season where CJ could go from the worst to top 3 in YPC and total yards very, very quickly.
One of the biggest issues we’ve had as a defense this year is a lack of turnovers, so it’s no coincidence that when we’ve finally started taking the ball away, easy TDs and more wins follow. As I’ve been saying since Hasselbeck took back over, his inability to hit the big play means we need to find any and every way possible to get him started with a short field, which drastically reduces the number of plays the offense has to execute to score points. To wit: the two turnovers on Sunday gave us the ball on the Buffalo 32 and our own 48, and both drives resulted in touchdowns. That’s how you win games, and it’s especially handy when trying to cover up a lack of talent or consistency on defense.
The Titans escaped the oppressive weight of another blown lead in the fourth quarter thanks to big plays on defense, a big-time run into the red zone by CJ and a ballsy pitch-and-catch between Hasselbeck and Washington. That’s the kind of gritty finish that helps build confidence, especially on the heels of another ugly victory over the Steelers. The next sign of improvement would be to go out and dominate a lesser opponent at home, which is exactly the opportunity we have against the Colts on Sunday?
With that game winning catch, you have to put Nate Washington solidly in the no. 2 spot of great Titans WRs. The only other guy who gives him a run for his money right now is Drew Bennett, but Nate already has very similar numbers in much fewer games/years. For a guy who really struggled with drops in his first year with the team, he’s blossomed into our toughest, most consistent and versatile WR.
Attention Jerry Gray: if you keep playing the secondary in soft coverages, we’re going to keep getting hit hard. You don’t have to graduate from Harvard to realize that, though I guess it doesn’t hurt.
Ahh the life of a punter in the NFL: even after breaking the franchise record for net average, Jim Wyatt’s profile of Brett Kern begins with tales of teammates mistaking Kern for a trainer and equipment manager.
The linebacking corps has already lost McRath for the season and McCarthy for most of the year so far. Now you can add Zac Diles and Patrick Bailey to that list. Bailey had been a mainstay on special teams while providing a little depth at LB, but Diles (whose injury appears to be more severe of the two) had been a nice surprise filling in at MLB.
Hmmm, looks like the Charges may have gotten busted cheating (using Stick ‘em on their gloves) right after they played us. I’m sure that was the very first time they’d used such an illegal advantage… right?