The Titans (2-8) kick off against the Philadelphia Eagles (7-3) on Sunday at 12:00pm EST, in Philly. Let's break down the game on the offensive side of the ball with some Titans-Eagles match-ups.
Zach Mettenberger put in a nice performance last week save for his first throw of the day. He was able to deliver the ball to all quadrants accurately, with and without pressure from the Steelers front seven. He faces an Eagles squad that can bring pressure from all across the line. Mettenberger will need to be aware of where Connor Barwin is at all times, as the ex-Texan already has 10.5 sacks on the season. Trent Cole is another pass rusher to watch.
Should the Titans protect Mettenberger as well as they did last week against Pittsburgh, the young QB should be able to do some damage down the field; especially with Delanie Walker hopefully returning to the lineup.
Out wide the Titans receivers match up well on paper, but the Eagles have the 8th overall defense for a reason. Kendall Wright will be saddled with Bradley Fletcher for much of the game, who was eviscerated by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers last week. Fletcher has been up and down for the Eagles this year (like their own version of Wreh-Wilson?), and Wright should be able to cause him plenty of problems. The Eagles like to deploy Brandon Boykin in the nickel to cover slot receivers, so Wright might see plenty of him as well depending on where he lines up most often.
Justin Hunter has been underwhelming this season, when compared to the hype he got over the summer. He will need to get back on track and start helping Mettenberger stretch the field. If the two are able to get on the same page, both should complement the other nicely. Should Delanie Walker suit up (after he hopefully passes the concussion protocol), that should open things up across the middle where the tight end has plied his trade this season; he should have the upper hand on Casey Matthews.
Like last week, the Titans offensive line is going up against a group that knows how the rush the passer and can be creative in the way that they do it. With Taylor Lewan matched up against Trent Cole, Tennessee hopes the two can cancel each other out. Lewan has been the Titans best lineman this year, and has slipped into the shoes of Michael Roos nicely. Lewan and Levitre will also be lined up against Fletcher Cox on the left side of the line. Should they be able to contain the two, Tennessee will be free to slide the extra protection in Barwin's direction, courtesy of the running backs like Bishop Sankey and Shonn Greene.
On the right side of the line, Barwin represents a doomsday scenario for Michael Oher, who continues to struggle. To be fair, he played adequately against the Steelers, but one game does not a season of bad erase. Cedric Thornton is the Eagles left end, and is an accomplished run stopper despite lacking the dynamism to rush the passer. He will be more than a match for an under performing Chance Warmack.
The Titans offense were on the field far too little last week, and they will need to stick with Sankey and the running game should they get the ball rolling. As noted by my colleague, Mr. Josh Gunnels, the Titans ran the ball only two times when they had the lead last week. That's not a winning strategy.
Tennessee has maddened many with their deployment of the running backs this year. Dexter McCluster has been rarely used, and has been banged up recently, as has Shonn Greene. The most confusing has been the volume of snaps being taken by Leon Washington over the past weeks. Sankey has shown he can be a consistent runner, and deserves the lion's share of the snaps. He faces a tough task against a solid Eagles front seven. But should he be able to make a few runs happen on his own, like he did last week against Pittsburgh, the Titans will have a chance to stay competitive.