Saturday, August 18, 2012
Brief thoughts on the Titans' win in Tampa
By Paul Kuharsky
Brief thoughts on what we saw from the Titans in their 30-7 win at Tampa Bay:
Quarterback play: Jake Locker hardly seized the starting job in a big chance as the starting quarterback. On an early third-and-long he slid right, stepped up, pump-faked and threw a bad ball back toward the middle. It was over Kendall Wright, an easy pick for Ahmad Black who nearly took it back to the end zone. Damian Williams was open on one side and Chris Johnson may have been open on the other when Locker looked for Wright.
Locker made another bad choice in the second quarter, throwing for Wright in the end zone from the Buccaneers’ 14-yard line. Two defenders were in front of the rookie receiver, and the Titans were fortunate it wasn’t picked.
Later, Black clobbered Javon Ringer near the left sideline and was flagged for a personal foul. Locker’s ball for Ringer was uncatchable -- though perhaps Ringer wasn’t where he should have been. Jared Cook had a drop and Cook and Nate Washington were on top of each other for a pass in their direction.
Playing all but the last series of the first half, Locker finished 4-of-11 for 21 yards, the pick and a passer rating of 7.0.
Matt Hasselbeck didn’t play long, but hit on 4 of 5 passes for 29 yards and a 90.8 rating.
But it wasn’t a night that gave the Titans a lot of new information in sorting out what to do at quarterback.
Johnson: The running back was more explosive, more decisive and more effective than a week ago in Seattle.
He carried 10 times for 46 yards and scored twice, showing more purpose. CJ got some yards inside and looked like his old self showing the necessary patience and then getting outside and around the corner.
It’s the sort of stuff I needed to see in order to feel like he’s in position to get back on track once the games count. The Titans didn’t throw to him, so the level of his focus as part of the pass game remains unresolved.
Everybody who got carries produced for Tennessee. They amassed 216 yards, led by another nice night for Darius Reynaud (10 carries for 75 yards).
The defense: The Titans showed a solid pass rush, and while there was some blitz mixed in, a good deal of the pressure came from the defensive line, including three of four sacks. That’s encouraging.
Sen'Derrick Marks knifed through for a quick sack that also forced a fumble. Jurrell Casey was disruptive inside as well. And it wasn’t only the tackles. The ends were part of the action.
Linebacker Akeem Ayers did well to deflect a pass that was intercepted by Alterraun Verner for another turnover that set up points.
Tampa Bay was not at all threatening and doesn’t look like much of an offensive team.
On this night, the Titans ensured Tampa Bay never found much life. The Bucs managed just six first downs, 81 net yards and a long drive of 33 yards -- on their last possession of the game.