Monday, November 11, 2013
Upon Further Review: Titans Week 10
By Paul Kuharsky
An examination of four hot issues from the Tennessee Titans' 29-27 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at LP Field:
Who’s a cancer? Safety Bernard Pollard and now tight end Delanie Walker have talked after recent failures about players who may be holding the Titans back. Walker went so far as to say after this loss that it may be time to start calling guys out and that the Titans need to “find the cancer.” So who’s the cancer? Nobody is saying at this point, though the Twitterverse is drawing some conclusions. I'm not going to speculate who qualifies without anyone telling me a name. But I think the place to start looking is where big paychecks aren’t meeting big production.
Depth issues: Teams aren’t going to be deep everywhere, but they need to be deep at the right spot. I don’t know what kind of player Chris Spencer really is. That’s the first we’ve seen him at center in the regular season. But Brian Schwenke had been a difference-maker in two games since he became a starter. He was lost relatively early to an ankle injury, and his physical presence left when he did and Spencer took over. The Titans ended up running for 3.1 yards a carry and just 83 yards total against the NFL’s worst run defense. That’s not close to good enough for a team that expects to be one of the top rushing attacks in the league.
Quarterback: The Tennessean reported that Jake Locker is not expected to play again, and a source told me he was 99 percent sure the quarterback is done for the season after suffering a foot injury late in the first half. Ryan Fitzpatrick was an ineffective starter when he filled in for Locker against Kansas City and Seattle. Perhaps he will be better this time around. Locker grew in his third season and second as a starter, but not enough. He showed gradual improvement in his first four games. Then he missed two games while hurt, and he wasn't strong in the three games since he came back. Now he’s going to carry a question about whether he’s injury prone.
Self-inflicted: Four giveaways, missed tackles and poorly timed penalties were all factors in the Titans' loss. They aspire to be a disciplined team that plays crisp football and puts stress on opponents. At 4-5, they more often hurt themselves in the ways bad teams do. Still, they are one of five teams with four wins in the AFC, just one game behind the Jets, who are in line for the final playoff berth at 5-4. As bad as things look, they aren’t dead yet.