Grudge Match: Titans-Cowboys

October, 9, 2010
10/09/10
8:00
AM ET
*Titans quarterback Vince Young vs. Cowboys defense: Young has come a long way since he made his first career start against the Cowboys in 2006.

When Young first broke into the league, his attitude was more of a runner than a passer. Young’s throwing motion will never be confused with a classic, dropback quarterback. It always drove me crazy when coaches said “We can fix his throwing motion.” It didn’t work with Kerry Collins or a guy like Drew Henson. Young does not throw the ball overhand but more three-quarters style and with a flick of the wrist.

The Titans like to run routes across the field and inside where he can make easier throws. Offensive coordinator Mike Heimendinger tries to make this offense as easy as possible for Young to make the right reads and throws.

Where the Cowboys need to try to affect Young in this contest is two areas: attacking the middle of the pocket and getting their hands up when they are along the line of scrimmage.

Young has the mobility to break tackles from the outside; teams have had success is pressuring him in his face. A matchup to watch inside is Titans center Eugene Amano on Jay Ratliff and nickel rusher Stephen Bowen. In my view, Amano is the weakest of the Titans’ linemen and should be attacked.

If the Cowboys can hold running back Chris Johnson in check, the focus of the Titans attack then falls on the shoulders of Young to make plays on a consistent basis.

*Cowboys guard Leonard Davis vs. Titans defensive tackle Jason Jones: The Titans’ defense doesn’t have the stars it once had rushing the passer, but they still get a tremendous amount of pressure with this current group.

Jones is the type of player than tends to give Davis fits. He is mobile, quick and athletic. Davis tends to struggle with these types because he doesn’t always move his feet. He will struggle when these defenders attack his shoulder and he has to adjust. When Davis gets in trouble, he overextends and tries to block off balance.

Jones is not a powerful player and there is no way that he can go toe-to-toe with Davis run or pass and think that he will have success. The Titans like to get their linemen on the move, so Davis cannot allow Jones to be a factor in the middle of the pocket and in the running game.

If Davis does struggle, there is a good chance the Cowboys will suffer some negative plays on offense.

*Cowboys receivers vs. Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan: There are going to be some great matchups across the board in this game but, this is the one I am really going to pay very close attention to.

Finnegan is one of the top five cover men in the NFL. He is not the biggest guy, but he has outstanding talent. He plays with an ease of movement and skill.

Finnegan is a hard man for a receiver to run away from because of his burst and acceleration. He plays very tight coverage and is hard to fool. Sometimes you find cornerbacks guessing on the routes, but not this guy. He is very smart and he has a great feel of how to read and play routes.

Finnegan has good ball skills and the hands to make a quarterback pay for their mistake. In the last two seasons, he has had five interceptions each year. He is a willing tackler and not afraid to stick his nose in the action.

In the past, the Titans have used Finnegan as a blitzer off the edge. In the Broncos game last week, he got his first sack of the season on a third-and-15 play.

I can see the Cowboys trying to attack rookie corner Alterraun Verner, who is not a bad player but nowhere as productive as Finnegan. If the Cowboys do have success on Finnegan on Sunday, the Titans’ defense might be in trouble.

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