Tennessee's defense had a rough outing against the Broncos, and I think that is putting it mildly. While the offense never really hit second gear after the first half, it was the defense that I was more disappointed with. Not only could the Titans not cover anyone, the Titans pass rush looked like it was stuck in 2012 mode. That can't happen against the Arizona Cardinals this weekend.
If the Titans are going to win the matchup with the Cardinals, they need to hope for a low scoring game. To have that, they will need a few things to happen.
Alterraun Verner's return to grace
Verner was attacked often by Manning last Sunday, but don't kid yourself he is still a top-5 CB in this league. If the Titans star defensive back wants to reclaim his status atop the group, there is an easy way to do so: shut down Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals have been using Michael Floyd a lot more than anyone would have expected preseason. Floyd now leads the Cardinals with 886 receiving yards and he has taken a reception for 20+ yards 14 times.
That sort of dynamic number two will cause problems for the Titans. However, if Verner can handle Fitzgerald one-on-one, then the Titans can bring more pressure and hopefully eliminate the possibility of Palmer sitting in the backfield and picking Tennessee apart.
Take advantage of the Cardinals bad OL.
In the preseason, Titans thought that the emergence of pass rushers like Derrick Morgan and Mike Martin would be a near-guarantee. Unfortunately for fans, despite Casey's emergence as one of the league's best DTs no one around him has really stood out as a pass rusher. If the Titans want to blank the Cardinals then they will need to make Palmer uncomfortable. Like Fitzpatrick, if you can hit Palmer a few times early he is very likely to just loft 50/50 passes when he feels pressure. That kind of terrible decision making would give the Titans ballhawks a chance to make a big play.
Play for yourself.
You may not have a chance at the playoffs, but a lot of things are going to be reevaluated this offseason. Even if you have a contract you may not be on this defense in 2014. All bets are off once the season ends, and if you can't play in both a 3-4 and a 4-3, or if you aren't playing at a Pro-Bowl level then this might just be your audition for the new coaching staff.