The days of the primary back look to be done in Tennessee. At least for now.
We all knew there would be a committee approach to the running game this year, but to what extent was yet to be seen. After taking Bishop Sankey, the first running back overall, in the second round of the draft, it was widely assumed that Shonn Greene would be the main guy and Sankey would get the left over carries until proven. Dexter McCluster was supposed to be worked in here and there in the "Danny Woodhead" role and Leon Washington was the kick returner.
In Sunday's game, however, the Titans had 32 attempts for 148 yards not counting Locker, and got all four running backs involved in the game. The committee finished with an average of 4.6 yards per carry.
Surprisingly, McCluster started the game and got the bulk of the carries early on. Later in the game, the bruising Shonn Greene finished off the Chiefs defense. Usually the "thunder" back softens up the defense while the "lightening" back then gashes the defense while they are on their heels. The reverse of the norm seemed to work just fine on Sunday letting Shonn Greene bulldoze his way to 71 yards on just 15 carries and converting some key short yardage plays along the way.
Leon Washington got involved, being used in 3rd down situations, especially those with a long distance to go and when a draw play was called. Even the rookie Bishop Sankey got his feet wet as well with 6 carries of his own.
The constant change of pace may work in the offense's favor, but I do wonder about backs needing to get in the groove and get a feel for what the defense is doing. It seemed to work well this last weekend, but I'll be interested to see if the constant changing will continue.
Executing Ken Whisenhunt's offense, quarterback Jake Locker hit eight different targets in the passing game. Four different receivers including camp bubble player Derek Hagan, two running backs, and two tight ends. Even Talyor Thompson got involved.
There was no one particular match-up that was exploited. There wasn't a single defensive back that was targeted repeatedly or even a receiver with a particularly hot hand. This offense goes where it is needed while pushing the ball down the field at the same time and not simply "taking what the defense gives you."
When preparing for the Chiefs, defensive coordinator Ray Horton made no secret about their gameplan focusing on Jamaal Charles. Had Dwayne Bowe been around that might have been a little less easy to do, but the Chiefs showed what happens when the defense takes away your one thing you do best. It will be hard for the Cowboys to focus in on any one thing the Titans do best this weekend.
While it seems that the Titans have play-makers for the first time in a long time at the receiver position. They've also shown that they aren't going to be reliant on any one player or match-up. And that's a good thing.