The Tennessee Titans won. That is always the most important thing. They now have 2 games on the road before a 3 game home stand. 3-1 is a great start. The Titans are still only 1 game behind the Indianapolis Colts and right in the hunt for a wild card spot. I know it is early, but it is important to keep an eye on these things as the season goes along.
We will start with Vince Young. By his own admission he played poorly yesterday:
The 2nd interception is the one that it will be the toughest to break him from. He just needs to learn that sometimes it is ok to take the sack. He doesn't have to be Superman on every play. Take the loss and live to play another down. Again, these are things that he will learn as he plays more in the league.
The 1st interception was just a bad throw. That happens to every quarterback in the NFL. I said it in the last post and I will say it again, Vince is going to be fine. This game is going to give those who are already critical of him more fuel for their fire. We already know what Vince can do. In the long run, he is going to win A LOT more games for the Titans than he loses. By the way, the Titans didn't lose this game.
The thing that bothers me the most about yesterday's game is the running game. The Titans never could seem to get it going. LenDale White and Chris Brown averaged only 2.7 yards per carry. That was against a Falcons defense that ranked 23rd against the run. If the Titans are really going to make a playoff run, the running game is going to have to be better than that.
Part of the problem, in my mind, is that the Titans didn't ever take the opportunity to get in a rhythm on the ground. It is beyond me why they were even throwing the ball early in the 4th quarter with a 7 point lead. That is when you want to milk the clock. That is what Jeff Fisher is known for. Even if you run the ball 3 times and don't get a 1st down, you take about 3 minutes off the clock and punt the ball. Assuming your punt team blocks someone, more on that in a minute, you make an offense that hasn't been able to do anything all day drive at least 60 yards. The only time you throw in that scenario is if you end up in 3rd and 4+ because your first rushing attempts failed.
The special teams, with the exception of Michael Griffin in the kick return game and Craig Hentrich's great decision to not punt the ball, was awful yesterday. I can excuse the fake punt. It was just a tricky play call right there. The Titans should have been in better position to stop it, but every now and then those things happen. The thing that is not excusable is the kick coverage. If it weren't for Reynaldo Hill forcing Jerious Norwood out of bounds, we probably would have been looking at overtime. I am not sure how many more times our defense could have held them. The other area of special team's that was really bad was the blocking on the punt team. A guy should never come through the middle unblocked.
Now we move on to the positives from yesterday. That is one of the best efforts I have ever seen from a defense. The Falcons had 5 drives that started in Titans' territory, and the defense only allowed 3 points from those drives. Four of those drives started inside the Titans' 25. Take a minute and read those 2 sentences again. Four drives that started inside the Titans' 25 with only 3 points allowed. It blows my mind that this is basically the same unit from last season, and now they are one of the best defenses in the league. They only allowed 50 rushing yards not counting the fake punt.
I hope Mike Reinfeldt is on the phone with Albert Haynesworth's agent right now. He had another dominant performance yesterday. The play on the goal line where he jumped over the center to grab Byron Leftwich was awesome. He has turned into the dominant defensive tackle the Titans hoped he would be when they drafted him. There are very few game changing defensive tackles in the league. Haynesworth is one, and the Titans should go ahead and lock him up long term.
The defensive line was in the face of the quarterback all day yesterday. The combination of Kyle Vanden Bosch and Antwan Odom/Travis LaBoy at the defensive ends is working extremely well. They tipped numerous balls, one of which led to a David Thornton interception. The whole defense is playing really well right now. Cortland Finnegan and Nick Harper are playing great against the pass and physical against the run. Calvin Lowry has obviously filled the hole that was Lamont Thompson. He made a great play to break up a pass in the 4th quarter yesterday.
An ugly win counts just as much as a pretty win does. There are plenty of things for the Titans to learn from this game. It will bring them back down to earth. They will head into Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers refreshed and ready to prove a point again.