Tennessee Titans: J.J. Watt

Warmack ready for Round 2 with Watt

December, 27, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- After Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt got the better of Tennessee Titans rookie guard Chance Warmack in Week 2, Warmack talked of how hard he would work to review his mistakes and how much better he’d be the next time.

“I won’t be a rookie anymore,” he said.

The next time is Sunday, when Houston visits Tennessee in the season finale for both teams.

Over three months later, Warmack says he’s grown a lot.

“Looking at some of the stuff I was doing back then, and what I know now, it is just amazing to see some of the differences in my game,” Warmack told Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. “I am hoping it’s going to be a different outlook on how I perform against a player like him. But considering it was my second game of the season as a rookie, I think I did OK. I’m a totally different player now.”

He’s an effective run blocker who still needs a lot of refinement in his pass protection. This week we got another reminder about why the team likes him so much. He consistently shows coaches his drive to be great.

“He’s the hardest working offensive lineman out of the group,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said at his weekly session with Nashville reporters. “He’s the guy you walk in at 4:30 a.m. (Thursday) and he’s sitting in the office watching tape. He has a tremendous desire to be good. It is very important to him.

"He is very prideful to the point where he probably wears the other guys out a little bit wanting to do more. That is the type of football player we want and that is the type character we want. Chance is used to winning and he has football character.”

Per Greg Cosell of NFL Films, when the Texans are in base, Warmack will only see Watt when the tight end is on the right side of the offensive formation. I hope that’s often enough that we get to see how Warmack has progressed through plays against Watt.

RTC: Warmack won't worship Watt

September, 17, 2013
Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans ...

It’s clear the Titans are frustrated with Kenny Britt, but not all the blame for his slow start should fall on him, writes Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

To which I say: I wrote Monday when they talked about getting him more involved that there is no rule that prevented them from doing so in the two games they’ve already played.

Chance Warmack says J.J. Watt is a talent, but wasn’t about to kowtow to the reigning defensive player of the year, say Wyatt and John Glennon.

Cornerback Alterraun Verner scored very high in the eyes of Neil Hornsby of Pro Football Focus.

The Titans have surrendered safeties in back-to-back games, which is quite a rarity according to David Boclair of the Nashville Post.

Locker Room Buzz: Tennessee Titans

September, 15, 2013
HOUSTON -- Observed in the locker room after the Tennessee Titans' 30-24 overtime loss to the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium:

No intent: Brian Cushing was lost to an ACL injury last year on a block thrown by Matt Slauson of the Jets. Titans center Rob Turner was flagged for a similar peel-back block on J.J. Watt at the end of the third quarter. Cushing spoke of more than a penalty and a fine being needed as a deterrent. But Turner said he had no ill intent. “I didn’t think about it on the screen,” Turner said. “It was a bad decision on my part to throw [it]. As a lineman, you get kind of ingrained, ‘Run a screen, throw a cut, run a screen, throw a cut.’ I tried saying something to him after the game, saying, ‘Look, I wasn’t trying to take your legs out.’”

Looking ahead: Last week Jurrell Casey delivered a postgame one-liner about what the Texans could expect. The defensive tackle may be good in that department every week. “We're just going to respond, do what we need to do next week against the Chargers and let them feel our pain,” Casey said. “That’s it.”

Spiky shoes: Apparently spike-covered shoes are a thing. I missed the memo on that, but Kendall Wright said he’s hardly the first guy on the Titans to have them. Chris Johnson set the tone. Check out Wright’s shoes on my Instagram: pkuharsky.
Three matchup questions I have as I consider the Tennessee Titans game Sunday at the Houston Texans.

1. Jason McCourty, Alterraun Verner and Coty Sensabaugh will all have a role in trying to slow down receiver Andre Johnson, who looked excellent against the Chargers on Monday night. Most of the time, a defensive back wants to get his hands on the receiver early to throw things off. But McCourty said there are times when Johnson wants a corner to jam him, because it sets him up for short routes. “Sometimes it works as an advantage and sometimes, with his strength, he uses it against you,” McCourty said. “Sometimes you have to lay off. You have to mix it up. He can be running a slant and let you get your hands on you and grab you and throw you by.”

2. As a member of the Bills, Titans left guard Andy Levitre played against Houston lineman Antonio Smith a year ago. Smith didn’t play in the opener after a suspension for a preseason incident with Richie Incognito. Smith will spend a lot of time trying to get past Levitre, but the Texans move people around up front, in part to prevent blockers from gaining any sort of consistent rhythm. “He’s strong enough to play inside but has still got that quickness of an end,” Smith said. “He’s an active guy, he plays all over the field.” J.J. Watt is the guy everyone is talking about and he’s a big issue for David Stewart, Chance Warmack and the whole line, but let's not forget about Smith.

3. Bernard Pollard was close to the line of scrimmage most of the time in Pittsburgh. The Titans often played Michael Griffin deep in the middle of the field alone. The combination of the Tennessee pass rush, solid coverage by the cornerbacks and minimal downfield threats from the Steelers allowed for that personnel distribution in the secondary. Can the Texans, who know Pollard well as he once played for them, force the Titans to back Pollard off and be more involved in coverage? Play-action passing is a giant piece of the Texans' offense, and Pollard is likely to be tested more.
Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans…

Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey and linebacker Zach Brown were playmakers in the opener and have the potential to be standout players for a defense that has lacked them, says John Glennon of The Tennessean.

Guard Chance Warmack made some mistakes and saw some new things in his regular-season debut, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

Bud Adams, Eddie George and Steve McNair are on the list of 126 modern-era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

To which I say: It’s a very thorough initial list. I don’t regard any of the three as Hall of Famers.

For Titans fullback Collin Mooney, Sept. 11 was a big factor in deciding to go to West Point, says David Boclair of the Nashville Post.

With Jackie Battle the Titans have their best three-man running back depth since 2007, says Boclair.

Warmack is preparing for his first chance against reigning defensive player of the year J.J. Watt, says Teresa Walker of the AP.

To which I say: It will be very interesting to see how he does, but let’s remember on base downs it will be more about right tackle David Stewart.

QB Watch: Titans' Jake Locker

September, 11, 2013
A weekly analysis of the Titans' quarterback play.

Rewind: Jake Locker was efficient and effective in a 16-9 upset at Pittsburgh. He hit on 11 of 20 passes for 125 yards with no touchdowns but no interceptions, either. It wasn’t a quarterbacks game, as the team ran the ball 42 times (two-thirds of the time). Play-action wasn’t especially effective, and Pro Football Focus says only one of Locker’s 11 completions was to the right side of the field. Those shortcomings didn’t matter in the big picture.

Fast-forward: The Texans can swarm the passer on a regular basis, and Locker is likely to face more pressure more frequently. Defensive lineman Antonio Smith returns from a one-game suspension and will add some spark to the efforts. J.J. Watt will move around, and it’s a question of when, not whether, he will cause problems. The Titans will need more from Locker than they did in Pittsburgh, and Houston will present a far different challenge than the Steelers did. If safety Ed Reed makes his Texans debut, he’s a wild card in the secondary.

Balance: I’m curious to see how well the Titans will be able to balance out what Locker does. By that I mean they will be best off if they can mix drop-backs with play-action, mixing in some options and maybe a called run or two. If the open receiver is consistently on the left, so be it. But I’d think that over the course of 60 minutes, the opportunities would be spread out more around the field.

Prediction: Locker made steady progress in the preseason and performed well at Pittsburgh. If the defense plays anywhere near as well as it did against the Steelers, he may have room for a mistake or two against the Texans. In a plan that is sure to ask him to do more, I expect he will make one or two. When they come and where the Titans are on the field when they come will have a big bearing on the result.