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Monday, September 16, 2013
Upon Further Review: Titans Week 2

By Paul Kuharsky

An examination of four hot issues from the Tennessee Titans' 30-24 loss to the Houston Texans:

Receiver development: As David Climer of The Tennessean pointed out in the press box Sunday night, there is a stark difference between what the Texans can get out of first-round receivers and what the Titans can.

DeAndre Hopkins
Sunday's game showed that the Titans aren't quite at Houston's level yet.
Sure, Andre Johnson may qualify as an all-time great when he’s done. But DeAndre Hopkins was a monster in just his second game and won it for Houston. The Titans said in their view it was Justin Hunter, the wideout they traded up to draft in the second round, who was the best receiver in the draft, not Hopkins.

But Hunter sat out Week 1 and wasn’t on the field much in Week 2, while Hopkins caught 13 passes for 117 yards and the winning TD. Receivers the Titans have drafted in the first round -- not as high as Johnson was drafted, but higher than Hopkins was -- didn’t do a ton. Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright combined for 11 catches for 82 yards and a score, with a long of just 14 yards. Wright is good. Right now is there a team that wouldn’t take Hopkins if given a choice?

And how come the Titans never get immediate impact from a new receiver?

Finisher mentality: The Texans have won the division twice in a row. While they’d like to finish a game like Sunday’s sooner rather than waiting for a late comeback to tie it and for overtime to win it, they have a finisher’s mentality because they’ve been there and done that when it comes to taking control.

The Titans are looking to create that. Sunday sure looked like they’ve closed the gap on the Texans. Jumping to a place where you make the big plays -- not the team you are chasing -- can be quite difficult.

And it hasn’t happened yet. The rematch is the regular-season finale, Dec. 29 in Nashville.

Penalties: Coach Mike Munchak talks a lot about discipline, but his Titans didn’t display a great deal of it with nine penalties for 70 yards.

Britt and Chris Johnson have to know they can’t join Wright’s touchdown dance celebration without getting flagged. What’s worse: If they didn’t know it was a penalty, or if they know it’s a penalty and can’t restrain themselves from doing it anyway?

I’ve re-watched Rob Turner’s peel back block on J.J. Watt and I understand the Texans’ outrage. Turner tried to apologize, but when the reigning defensive player of the year feels like his legs and his season are being put recklessly at risk, that’s not good. Turner can throw a block there without going low.

Watt 1, Warmack 0: It’s unlikely that a highly drafted rookie guard in just his second game is going to fare especially well against the reigning defensive player of the year.

Chance Warmack was victimized by Watt on two first-half sacks and got a lot of help as the Titans fared better against the defensive lineman as the game went on.

Warmack is probably going to be a very good player. At this stage of his development he’s not a guy who can handle Watt -- which is hardly an embarrassment considering few veterans can, either.