Friday, August 22, 2008
In-game analysis: Titans at Atlanta
By Paul Kuharsky
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
ATLANTA -- Vince Young looked far better tonight than he did last week against the Raiders. But he still wound up with a 44.2 passer rating and an interception to go with no touchdown passes. The Titans looked to have game planned a bit more and he made some good throws and some good decisions.
One point of emphasis through the first two weeks was that Young had managed the game well and not turned the ball over. He did tonight, with a bad throw on the final play of the first quarter. He seemed flat-footed as he threw well behind Brandon Jones. Cornerback Chevis Jackson picked it off easily and took it 28 yards. The Falcons moved to a 39-yard Jason Elam field goal from there and pulled even at 3-3.
Atlanta rookie Matt Ryan stayed in longer than Young and his second-half series against the Titans' second team defense was where he got his touchdown pass. He matched Young yard-for-yard with 102 and posted a 97.7 rating.
- Here's a play the Titans seem to have down and look very comfortable running: Young makes a play-action fake, rolls the opposite direction than the running back was going and fires to a receiver on the sideline at the first-down marker.
They did it on a second-and-5 in the second quarter, with right guard Eugene Amano pulling and leading Young to the right as he threw to Justin McCareins at the boundary for six yards.
They did it again on the next series. On first-and-10 Young rolled left and hit McCareins who was on a knee beyond the marker for 11 yards.
- In the building where they were part of a classic Super Bowl XXXIV, three old Titans were on hand to work in the media. Safety Blaine Bishop works on pregame and postgame radio, running back Eddie George does color on preseason television and tight end Frank Wycheck is the team's radio analyst. (Full disclosure: I work with Wycheck on some morning radio.)
It's hard not to look at the goal line to the right of the press box and picture Kevin Dyson stretching for it, wrapped up by Mike Jones a yard short of the first overtime in Super Bowl history.
There seemed to be a consensus in the wake of that game that had Dyson scored to tie it, that they would have won it because with the Titans had worn down St. Louis and shifted momentum. How might life have been different for that team and those players if they were wearing rings? I'm not apologizing for Tennessee. The Rams absolutely deserved their victory. But we might know the answer to those questions if Bishop hadn't been knocked out with a concussion.
- Run game review: Titans running backs, predominantly Chris Johnson, averaged just 2.8 yards a carry in the first half while Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood combined to average 4.3 against Tennessee's first team defense. Not the sort of numbers the Titans like to see.
- Atlanta has a couple of receivers that have characteristics the Titans are looking for. Both Michael Jenkins and Roddy White went aggressively after balls and jumped well and went after stuff they couldn't pull in from Ryan. The Titans need more of that from their guys. Justin Gage had an awful drop on what should have been a 25-yard catch. He started thinking yards-after-the-catch before he'd completed the catch.
- Halftime highlight: A stretch of silence. There was a pee-wee football game going on with a bit of announcing, but no booming music and no in your face advertising. Bravo. The revamped Georgia Dome looks great.