The first quarter of the 2010 NFL season has quickly passed and it’s time to assess our beloved Titans’ performance. It has been four games of ups and downs, filled with sacks by our daunting defense as well as multiple mistakes, fumbles and penalties on both sides of the field. In summary, the first quarter has been unimpressive with moments of potential greatness. With a little more maturity and a lot more discipline and intensity, the Titans could have easily been 4-0. As we look at this season’s stats, we can use them to assess the Titans’ 1st quarter performance and formulate a strategic plan to lead our team to a victorious second quarter and season.
After one quarter of the 2010 season, the Titans rank 27th out of 32 NFL teams in total yards. Logic tells us that no team can get to the Super Bowl with that ranking. The bottom line is that we need more yards. To gain more yards, our offense needs to be on the field. Our offensive time of possession is 27:37 per game, again 27th out of 32 teams in the NFL. Do you think those statistics might have some cause and effect relationship? The bottom line is that we need to get our offense off of the sideline and into the headlines. To accomplish that, our offense needs to hold onto the ball and stop negating yards gained by penalties. Our defense must also stop giving up yards due to penalties like the one that cost them the game last Sunday at LP Field.
The Titans lead the league in penalty yards (344). If those yards were added to our total yards, it would most certainly have put more points on the board and led the Titans to four victories that were all within their grasp. With seven fumbles and three interceptions in four games, the Titans are – 3 in the takeaway category. No team can win their division with those statistics. The bottom line here is that we need to work to get the ball and work to keep it when we have it. Penalties and turnovers are keeping the Titans from reaching their potential. Both of these problems reveal a lack of discipline. Coach Fisher is a great coach with an amazing career record and life example of great character and discipline. Somehow, he needs to impute some of that discipline into the team this year. Discipline and intensity may be the only ingredients keeping the Titans from going all the way.
Positively, the Titans have improved on special teams, ranking 6th in Kickoff returns and 12th in punting stats. Our defense leads the leagues in sacks with 16 and is ranked 8th in total yards allowed, however, we are stronger against the run than the pass and need to sure up our secondary in order to shut down our opponents. The Titans have good depth and have been able to cover several holes that have been created by multiple injuries. This has been quite an amazing feat.
Offensively, the Titans rank 9th out of 32 teams rushing, and 29th in passing and receiving. Those last statistics are inexcusable and need to be remedied if we hope to get into the post season. Vince Young is averaging a mere 128 yards per game, and needs to pass more often and for more yardage. He needs to air it out in honor of his mentor Steve, and when he does, our receivers have to catch and hold onto the ball. That really is what they get paid for and there is no excuse for not displaying this rudimentary skill that receivers have trained for their entire careers. Not one of our receivers is ranked in the top 40 of the NFL this year. Nate Washington is ranked 45th and Justin Gage is 75th. We have talented receivers and Vince Young is very capable to become a star quarterback in the NFL. The problem seems to be in our offensive strategy and in the heads and hands of our players. To achieve they must believe.
Chris Johnson is ranked 6th in the NFL with 354 rushing yards. For anyone else, this would be great. For Chris Johnson, it is painfully frustrating and disappointing. We all feel his pain as he takes multiple hits every week that would put most of us in the hospital. Yet he keeps getting back up and running into walls over and over again, grinding out yards, waiting for holes to be open that will allow him to unleash his speed and fly like the wind. The Titans offensive line has been unable to open up those holes this year and have been unimpressive, allowing nine sacks and earning an overall offensive line rating of 21 out of 32 teams.
Chris Johnson is not that far behind his total yards gained during the first quarter of last year, but the difference is that last year at this time, his average carry was 5.6 yards, and this year, though he is ranked 6th in rushing yards, he is only averaging 3.8 yards and he leads the league with 94 carries. Other teams know that CJ is great and that he is the Titans not so secret weapon. They are focused on stopping him, if not for the season, at least for their game. The combination of crushing blows and carrying the ball nearly 24 times a game could be damaging to both Johnson and the Tennessee Titans’ future hopes.
The total assessment points to three key strategic changes for the second quarter of the season.
1. Mix it up more – allow Vince Young to throw more and run more, when they least expect it. If the defense has to worry about VY running or airing it out to our talented receivers, they will not be able to focus on Chris Johnson. This will allow CJ to run less and gain many more yards, and will win more games for the Titans. It’s really not rocket science.
2. Coaches need to do everything possible (even benching and fining players) to instill more discipline and intensity. When discipline and intensity are infused into this Titan team, there will be no stopping them.
3. Do everything possible to sure up the offensive line and introduce new plays that will keep the opponents’ defense confused and unable to cover all of our weapons, thus taking some of the pressure off of the offensive line. Watching the Titans play every week it like watching the same ole same ole thing – a few short passes, Chris Johnson carry after carry, a pass over the middle for a first down once in a while, and then back to Chris Johnson. This certainly makes it easy for our opponents to develop their defensive game plan. It’s time for some strategic changes! Let’s mix it up, shake it up and bring some excitement back into Tennessee Titans football!