Welp, that happened. All of our concerns about this match-up essentially came true, and the result was all too familiar: in the three losses we've suffered at the hands of these... chuckleheads over the past three years (2-3 overall), we've been lost by a combined 99-21.
When we lose to the Texans, we lose all the damned way.
Of course there were some surprises, mostly notably the surprise appearance of CJ2K and some solid run blocking by the O-line. If you had told me this morning Chris Johnson would average 5.6 YPC and log nearly 150 yards, I'd just assume we won handily. CJ didn't hit the monster TD run, but the fact that he was authoritative, consistent and efficient is actually more uplifting than a long scoring run would have been. Plus, it was nice to see David Stewart show some fire, which this team hasn't seen since Mawae retired. He just needs to learn how to get away with it... Good stuff over all.
However, if you had told me Jake would re-dislocate his non-throwing shoulder on his second drop back and miss the entire game, I probably would have accurately predicted the rest of this game. This offense, already down Britt, is dead in the water with Matt Hasselbeck. The only way they can score is to run 30 plays dinking and dunking down the field, but he's too mistake prone for that to be an effective mode of attack. We really got screwed here by the 3rd QB rule change a few years back, because I would have liked to see Rusty come in instead of Hass. Kendall Wright struggled all game with drops, but made a few plays after the game was out of hand. Our other rookie pass catcher, Taylor Thompson, honorably tried to salvage a horrible pass by Hass, but the result was a pick six that completely ended the game.
The only thing worse than our passing attack was the pass coverage by the linebackers. For the 1,000,000th straight game we got dominated by TEs. Daniels and Casey combined for 11 catches, 108 yards, 2TDs and probably 30 first downs. I can't explain how this issue has been so consistently crippling over the course of two different coordinators and a nearly complete turnover of the LB corps. It doesn't make any sense for it, but there's absolutely no excuse for it either.
If you're looking for a bright spot, I'd like to direct your attention to the defensive line. Sure, they struggled to get pressure against Matt Schaub, but they did an incredible job against the league's best rushing attack. They held the Texans to less than 100 yards, and a paltry 3.1 YPC. Jurrell Casey was especially effective disrupting the run, but Mike Martin and Sen'Derrick Marks also played well all game.
And thus concludes the first quarter of the Titans' 2012 NFL season. Just about everyone who looked at our schedule expected a blood bath through the month of September, so in that context 1-3 isn't as panic inducing as it feels right now. The next quarter isn't a cakewalk, especially with the Vikings suddenly gelling, but it's definitely easier than what our guys just survived.
Dan and I will do a show this evening, so stay tuned for a post on that. Jommy promises to be back in the fold on Tuesday.