Early in the off season Dowell Loggains was quoted after practice that Jake Locker just needs to "drive the bus". The Titans have spent the offseason placing the pieces around him, so that he can be successful. Giving him a good offensive line and play makers to distribute the ball to. The idea was to not put Jake in the position where he felt he needed to do too much in order to win the game.
Whether it was a function of continually poor field position, or whether Loggains actually thought the run game would come back to life, it seemed Loggains flat out took the keys out of Locker's hands int he second half.
Here's the play calling and drive totals for the Titans after half time:
Run, run, pass. = 8 yards
Run, run, pass = 0 yards
Sack, run, pass = -5 yards
Pass, pass, pass = 7 yards
Pass, run, run, run (safety) = -12 yards
Pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, run, pass, pass = 99yards, Touchdown
Run, run, pass = 2 yards
Pass, pass, pass = 9 yards
When asked about the run game earlier this week, Andy Levitre commented on how if you can run the ball at will, that allows the team to throw the ball when they want to, not when they have to. So what happens when you have to because the run isn't working?
I understand that pounding the rock even when it's not working is part of the Titans new identity. Honestly, I'm all for it as the Titans had a lot of success playing that brand of football. But at some point stubborn is stubborn. The repetitive combination of Run/Run/Pass became maddening to watch as the Texans consistently keyed on the run and then forced a 3rd and long. Something the Titans staff harped on avoiding all offseason.
When starting a drive on the 1 yard line, Loggains took the leash off of Jake Locker. The result was a 99 yard drive, with 8 out of 9 plays were passes for a touchdown. The ensuing drive by the Titans with an 8 point lead? Yep, run/run/pass.
I felt like I was watching a driver's education teacher who kept pumping the brake on the passenger floorboard.
I am an incredibly conservative person. I set my clocks ahead 10 minutes fast, cook my food that extra half minute, look left, then right, then left again when pulling into traffic. But even this was too much for me. Had the run game shown the slightest bit of success since the first half, I would have no issues with the play calling, but it hadn't.
The Titans tried to run out the clock, but instead just ran out the win.
Yes Locker threw high to Kenny Britt on what could have been a game winning first down. Kendall Wright also dropped a screen pass that bounced off his numbers the drive before that could have done the same thing. Maybe if Rob Turner and Kenny Britt hadn't committed so many penalties, things would have turned out different as well.
The point is that Locker showed everyone he can do what needs to be done on the 99 yard drive. He has now faced two of the toughest defenses in the league and has thrown no interceptions. For better or worse, the Titans need to give him the keys. Let him drive the bus.