Let me be clear: nothing excuses an 11 carry for 4 yards performance. I don't care if you're facing the '86 Bears and they've been mainlining the steroids that the '75 Steelers were taking. That's a failure so colossal it's almost criminal for no one to get fired for it, even at the high school level. Pretty sure we all agree on that by this point.
However, in the effort to pile on Chris Johnson, Leroy Harris and Chris Palmer, we've been remiss in not pointing out a few things that should at least soften the impact of the metaphorical anvil being dropped on our fandom's toes:
- While it was CJ's worst rushing performance, he wasn't useless in this game. CJ still managed to lead the team in total receptions, finish third in total receiving yards and caught 6 of the 7 passes thrown his way. That's certainly more efficient than Nate's 2 for 8 performance.
- As bad as New England's defense was against the pass (at times) last season, they finished second in FO's final DVOA rankings against the run. On top of that, they spent their top two picks improving their front seven, and both rookies had a significant impact on the game.
- While this number wasn't aided at all by CJ's dance moves and stutter steps, he was still hit at or behind the line on 8 of those 11 rushing attempts. Earl Campbell would struggle with even half of that kind of penetration.
So, while the complaints generally haven't been without merit, lets try to keep some perspective about what happened last Sunday. The truth is we aren't anywhere near ready to play with any team that just made their fifth Super Bowl appearance of the decade, features an offense unlike anything you've ever seen (in terms of scheme, if not also result) and a defensive minded head coach who has playbooks featured in the Hall of Fame.
But don't think for a second that conclusively means we won't be ready for that kind of match-up by January. This team has everything it needs to improve, just like a team with a second year coach should.
Fret not my Titans brethren. There's still plenty of green grass, striped in white and patrolled by two-toned blue ready for our guys to dominate.