After last week’s performance against the Dallas Cowboys, many Titans fans were left asking themselves “Where’s the Offense?” and more specifically “Where is the Running Game?”. Those questions were more intensely pondered by sportswriters in the local media. Some worried that this 2009 edition of the Titans ‘O’ had lost it’s mojo, incapable making another 13-3 run. Eight days later, some answers have come to light, but like any good gridiron soap opera, there will surely be more questions in next week’s episode of ‘All My Titans’.
On a windy and sometimes rainy night, the Tennessee Titans took the field of Cleveland Browns Stadium in search of mainly O’s but a few X’s as well. In hopes of rockin’ the rock n’ roll capital of the world, the Titans did get their groove early in the first half of play.
The suspect running game saw significant improvement from previous outings with the Titans offensive line controlling the line of scrimmage. Chris Johnson and LenDale White combined for 47 yards on 11 carries (4.3 yards per carry). Quentin Ganther also stepped up with 2 receptions out of the backfield for 40 yards and 2 rushed for 5 yards. Rookie Javon Ringer had a quiet evening with a 2-yard run.
Though Kenny Britt moved to 1st string WR with the Nate Washington injury earlier this week, it was veteran Justin Gage and rookie TE Jared Cook that found themselves in Kerry Collins’s sights. After a 3rd down sack ended Collins’ first drive of the evening, the Penn State product put together a 12-play 75 yard march that culminated in a 6-yard over-the-shoulder TD to Gage
The offensive line gave Collins the protection he needed to throw 11 of 14 for 102 yards 1 TD, 0 Int. before handing the reins to Vince Young in the 2nd Qtr.
No one has been under more scrutiny in the post-Pac Man era than VY, but the 4th year Texas legend gets a big ‘thumbs up’ from this rookie blogger. Yes, he made a few mistakes. He fumbled on a scramble just 1 yard from the end zone – one of 3 turnovers committed by the Titans. In the 3rd Qtr, Vince threw an off-balance pass deep in Titan territory that he wishes he could take back. That mistake resulted in 6 points for the Browns as LB Alex Hall trotted 11 yards for a quick TD. But give Vince Young credit. He stayed focus. He bounced back and rallied the Titans from a 20-7 deficit with a 3Qtr. 15 yard TD pass to reserve TE Matthew Mulligan. He also put the Titans in FG range for a 32 Yard Rob Bironas FG.
Last week, I predicted that Jeff Fisher would get back to basics with the Titans Defense. That work paid off. Kyle Vander Bosch and Jacob Ford along with a few other starters were able to keep pressure on the opposing QBs for the time they were on the field . The Browns ‘screen-happy’ offense made a few small gains against Titan starters but their 1st string offense stayed on the field well into the 3rd Qtr compiling yardage against all Titan reserves. This is one major reason why I’m not too worried about chalking this one up in the loss column.
Cleveland went on to add a third Phil Dawson FG to put away the Titans 23-17.
What did we learn from this game?
1) The Titans running game has a pulse
2) The offensive line is still in the upper echelon of the NFL.
3) Vince Young is making big strides and not with his legs.
4) Brady Quinn will most likely be the Browns starting QB in Week 1
5) Jamal Lewis will lose his job to James Davis
6) Mistakes cost the Titans 10 points – and a 3-1 preseason record.