As always, I will start with the good news. Despite the inflated statistics from the Seahawks offense, the D has another good day. They played almost the entire third quarter and much of the fourth as well due to an offense that could not stay on the field longer than 3 (or less) snaps. The offense generated a single first down in a quarter and a half of football. There's no other word for it, it's just pathetic. And in spite of this fact, the defense only yielded 20 points to a very dynamic offense.
Up front, the defensive line controlled the game in the first half by taking the running aspect of the Hawks out of the equation. They were severely worn down in the second period though, and were gashed by the run more than once late. Rushing the passer was a messier affair however. The team generated some great pressure, but time and time again they were unable to contain Wilson. At times, it looked like the defenders were in slow motion compared to the guy. That said, they did manage a pair of sacks, courtesy of Pollard and Pitoitua, and put a ton of pressure on Wilson, flushing him out the pocket on what seemed like every play. I was disappointed, however; that the team was unable to capitalize on this, and was consistently being beaten to the sidelines. Against a guy like Wilson, the coaches have to be more creative to contain, and it burned the D time and time again. Without those gimme outside runs, the Seahawks don't move the chains, and don't put up points on offense.
The secondary had a very good day overall. One could fault that they didn't produce any interceptions, but their coverage more often than not dictated extended plays by Wilson. Verner and McCourty played solid coverage on the outsides, and Coty Sensabaugh made some great plays as well. All three were physical and made excellent open field tackles. After the first turnover, the unit made some great plays to force a punt in a drive that was almost assuredly going to give the Seahawks at least 3.
The backers had a so-so day. Zach Brown's missed recovery attempt will overshadow was was a decent day by him, especially against the run. I'm not positive on who had coverage on Lynch on the 55 yard pass but whoever it was, be it Ayers, Fokou, or Brown, but it was a severely depleting play to see the back on his own sprinting down the field after what had been excellent defense up to that point. The entire unit was doing it's best to make plays, as evidenced by four forced fumbles accredited to Griffin, McCourty, and two to Fokou.
On the offensive side of things, it was sort of KC all over again. I remarked after both the Jets game and the tilt against Kansas City that Fitzpatrick looked unable to complete even the easy passes with any consistency. He makes the mundane seem impossible. This only got worse against Seattle. There was more than one instance of the QB completely missing guys on shallow crossing routes and slants, including one particularly egregious miss to Kendall Wright on third down that could have been a nice catch-and-run. Say what you want about the offensive line, but Fitz lacks the ability to competently run this offense and both his accuracy and decision making look to be at career-low levels. Not only this, but he has been careless with the football in his hands too, and was lucky not to be victimized by two fumbles.
You might say this is baseless speculation, but with Jake Locker playing like he was, the Titans win both the past two games. This type of team just isn't explosive enough to make up for multiple mistakes. Every time this offense steps on the field, every game we lose in Jake's absence, makes me despise the Jets and everything that team stands for. Some may say that 3 games to miss isn't a lot and it could be worse. While that is true, 3 games in a 16 game season is a significant amount to simply flush down the tubes. While the Titans were not a world-beating offense even with Jake, there is no doubt they were far more capable, and could move the chains when needed.
The offensive line is becoming a gunshot to the foot of this team every week. They were good for the most part in pass protection, but their efforts in the run game continue to be nothing short of abysmal. Whatever the reason, be it a lack of chemistry, coaching, play-calling, the result is the same: a run-first team who can't run the ball. I am as excited for Shonn Greene to finally return as anyone, but I'm not kidding myself that this is a cure-all for this team's woes. We can also point to the coaches for the err of putting in Reynaud in for a third and short run, but beyond that gaff, Loggains called a fairly good game on offense. It's just unfortunate that he had decided to open up the passing game right when we lose our QB to injury. The game against the Hawks went far beyond that call, and the offensive had time and time again to execute, and they failed miserably.
In lighter news, Kendall Wright has arrived. He has grown into a reliable pass-catcher and a nightmare after the catch for defenders. His continued growth will do wonders for this offense when it has a real NFL QB back under center. Justin Hunter also got involved early, but showed a rookie error in not gunning for the sticks and trying to make too much happen on a 3rd down which stalled the Titans in the red-zone. Dierdorf continually was pointing out that Delanie Walker was not getting enough looks in the passing game, and I would have agreed with him on that if there had been any consistency in that front of the Titans' gameplan. Again Washington made a good play on a third down conversion, but he was not looked to much due to solid coverage, not that Fitz cared about that when he cut that deep out loose. Damien Williams had a missed effort on what would have been a spectacular TD, but otherwise he played a solid game.
The Titans made a great play on the field goal attempt to end the half. The defense and special teams unit made more than enough plays between them that the game should have been won. Reynaud had a couple of nice returns in the game, but yet again a gaff, this time on a punt, put the Titans in yet another hole. I am growing weary of following this unit, it really is becoming painful, and the mistakes are almost predictable at this point.
The Titans D spoon-fed the offense on Sunday. I predicted a loss for the Titans, and I was willing to accept that with dignity. But it is the manner of losing that is grating. These guys had every opportunity to go out and win this one, including an extremely well-called game by the officials. In the end, the arthritic running game and woeful passing of Fitzpatrick were enough to undo any good the defense created. Heading into another tough game next week against the 49ers, the team needs to do something, anything, to spark the run game, or it will be the same story all over again.
Jake, we miss you buddy.