Titans - Raiders: A Complete Preview

Joe Robbins

The Titans go on the road to take on the Raiders next weekend, after a long week to digest the second half collapse against the Colts.

The Titans need to show some steely resolve to salvage the season and make things somewhat respectable.

Offense

Fitzpatrick will need to repeat his performance against the Colts and not his tilts earlier in the season where he was woefully inaccurate. Dowell Loggains dialed up the up-tempo, spread attack and Fitz was obviously comfortable running it. My one major criticism was that they went back under center when they wanted to run the ball, and that tipped the defense off, especially in the second half. Loggains needs to build on that game however, as he has the right idea. Running out the gun (where CJ has thrived in the past) and stretching the field every so often needs to be a bigger part of the plan to stop the Raiders from stacking the box and flooding the underneath zones.

CJ and Greene need to have big days from here on out to help carry the offense and run out the clock in the 4th with the lead. CJ showed flashes of his younger self early against the Colts, but was unable to shake them in the second half when the defenses were keyed in and played more gap-conscious football. Greene had a few solid runs yet again, but they need to let him grind it out on 3rd/4th and 1 way more often; he has proven more than capable of it.

The offensive line needs to elevate their game in a big way. They really have yet to put a complete game together this year in terms of pass-protecting and run-blocking; it's always one or the other. This is the time when you want to see growth out of the young Guard in Chance Warmack, and (when he returns to the lineup) the Center, Brian Schwenke. They will have their hands full with a Raiders defense that has been a pleasant surprise this year. With a lot of new faces, the Raiders have been able to pull out some notable wins.

Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker will need to repeat their performances as well. Both players thrived in the quick-pass attack last Thursday night. If the coaches had worked in a few more intermediate and deep throws, I think the entire offense would have run better in the second half. Wright and Washington will be matched up with Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins, who have proved capable at the cornerback spots. Sio Moore against Delanie Walker might be an interesting battle as well. Walker has been excellent this year, and certain validation that Ruston Webster made the right decision in bringing him in as the primary TE.

Defense

Jurrell Casey and the Titans Defensive Line will have to play a good game against Darren McFadden, and even more so Rashad Jennings, who has been excellent in McFadden's absence. The Titans are familiar with Jennings from his time with the Jaguars, and he looks to be hitting his stride for the Raiders. Morgan and Pitoitua will also be matched up against former Jags in both offensive tackles: Tony Pashos and Khalif Barnes. The Titan ends need to take advantage of this battle and put pressure on the pocket, where Matt McGloin wreaked havoc on the Texans last week.

I have been more than a little disappointed in the Titan backers this year. Brown has gone quiet and Ayers has made plenty of errors, and hasn't shined (or even been used much) as a pass rusher. McCarthy has missed a LOT of tackles as well, which doesn't bode well against a team that has been pounding away with the run game. All three will have to up their games in this one. Hopefully Gray/Williams employ Brown as a blitzer more often in this one, and put a man on the TEs at all times. The man-coverage heavy schemes have been wildly successful for the Titans this year, so it has been a real head-scratcher when they inexplicably get away from it and go to the soft zone defense, which has been routinely sliced up by even the most mundane QBs (I'm looking at you Mr. Henne). There really is no excuse since the Titans have the personnel to run the scheme effectively. Here's to hoping we see more of the former than the latter for the rest of the season.

The Titans corners should have a big advantage over the Raiders wideouts. Denarius Moore, Rodd Streater and Jacoby Ford are fast fellas no doubt, but I have faith in ATV and McCourty to hold them at bay. Moore is the cream of the Raiders crop, and has proven a talented player thus far, but the Titans have allowed the least yardage by opposing wideouts in the NFL this year. I don't think that stops against the Silver and Black on Sunday. Also look out for speedster Juron Criner who will be matched up with Coty Sensabaugh in the slot. Speaking of Coty, the young corner has really improved of late, and made some great defensive plays/coverage against the Colts. He has great reactions and agility to stay with receivers and not get fooled by double moves. On the back end, Bernard Pollard will need to play aggressively as always in the box to aid in run support. The Raiders lack real weapons at TE, so hopefully the Titans don't pull another Fleener this week and actually shut them down.

Special Teams

NO. MORE. RETURNING. KICKS....EVER. I'm serious, the Titans may have one or two more wins if they just elected to not return kicks. That is just sad. I'm also looking for a much better outing from Kern, who had a dreadful game against Indianapolis, including a booming punt that sailed all of 20 yards. This team isn't equipped to deal with constantly poor field position.

Summary

I think this will be an interesting game, if only to see how the Titans respond to collapsing on national television. If they can contain the Raiders rushing attack, they have a real chance at walking away with a win. That said, the game will likely come down to who can adapt as the game unfolds, and at this point I have more faith in Dennis Allen and co to do just that than I do in Munchak. Beyond this, McGloin proved he can sling it when he torched the Texans last week, so I wouldn't underestimate him. I think it's a close one in the end, and a game that will likely be decided by one big turnover.

And hey, here's to nobody getting head-butted this week.

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