The "shocking" loss of the Titans on Sunday felt like a punch in the gut. High expectations will do that to a fan base that desperately wants a championship banner to hang from its rafters. Every team has a sense of entitlement when it comes to the chase of such an elusive team goal. The players, management and fan base collectively knows that Superbowl glory expunges the memory of being one yard short. (Actually seven points but one yard shy sounds better) Sunday exposed most of what I've written about in the off season but there's some other things have reared their ugly head.
I've never thought the the additions of Kenny Britt and Nate Washington was the "final" pieces of our championship quest. I'm not going to pin the blame on this 0-2 start on the Titan's failure to resign Albert Haynesworth. That's to easy of a target. Our Front four led by Kyle Vandenbosh has shown the ability to make plays. Jason Jones and Tony Brown aren't chopped liver either. So what could it be? Here are five credible reason why the Titans are 0-2.
1. JEFF FISHER
I'm not suggesting that Jeff should be fired. He's a fighter no doubt. Jeff is the NFL's longest tenured coach with multiple division titles, 1 AFC championship and another appearance in the AFC championship game after a 1-4 start in the 2002 season. That was seven years ago though. Since then the Titans offense has underperformed. They haven't had a Quarterback pass for 3,000 yards since Steve Mcnair. Free agent signings on offense have not panned out. David Givens, Carl Pickens, Eric Moulds, and Yancy Thigpen didn't help the team. We have failed miserably at drafting recievers. Brandon Jones was decent but opted for free agency. Courtney Roby, Paul Williams and backseat of my jeep (Tyrone Calico) are shameful from picks from the ghost of busted draft pick past. The Titans have two straight playoff appearances that ended after the first game, including the heartbreaking 3 point at home loss to the Ravens in last years divisional round.
Fisher still hasn't totally surrendered the reins to veteran Kerry Collins and the offensive coordinator. After a hot start in the first half, Kerry only completed 5-13 passes for 35 yards. Chris Johnson great play still couldn't salvage the win after touching the ball a total of 25 times accounting for over 250 yards of total offense. Johnson's talent and not necessarily great play calling saved the Titans. Johnson's timely 57 yard burst, with the Titans facing third and 19 kept the Texans at bay. Andre Johnson had 14 catches which was more than Britt, Gage and Washington combined. The offense didn't stay aggressive. In addition to that, Collins turned the ball over during crunch time.
2. The Secondary got exposed.
Nick Harper isn't the entire reason but he's a big piece of the puzzle. The front four got pressure on Shaub but to his credit, he got rid of the ball in a timely fashion. Sacks aren't always the be all end all but the Titans definitely depend heavily on disrupting the quarterback which helps out their secondary tremendously. Andre Johnson showed why he's an emerging talent on par with the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Santonio Holmes and Terrell Owens.
3. The Titans didn't score any points off turnovers.
The Titans "sneaky" 13-3 record was anchored by their affinity for causing turnovers and giving their offense a short field. This led to Lendale White scoring 15 touchdowns and doing that lame touchdown dance he loves. The Titans haven't been as fortunate this season. The defense does miss Albert's presence in regard to causing mismatches but Tony Brown and company showed that they can do the job. Theyperformed well without Haynesworth against Pittsburgh last winter which led to the Titans securing home field throughout the 2008 playoffs. Jason Jones found a way to get kicked out of the game. Though the call can be viewed as suspect, he has to find a way to remain calm in such a tight game. Also save me the excuse of missed field goals. That's still the sign of a team that is a one trick pony. The Patriots eventually evolved into an offensive jaugernaut but still kept a money kicker after Vinateri left.
4. The offense took the gas off of the pedal in the second half.
Some would argue that the titans were one of the tops in the league in "red zone" efficiency by the amount of touchdowns they scored. True but that stat is skewed and anchored by the fact that the Titans were also one of the best teams in takeaways. The passing game produced only 12 touchdown passes which is great but when it counts 6 points is more than three if you're down by two scores. Secondly Kerry's fumble in the last two minutes showed that the offense had lost its edge after building a 21-7 lead. An interception and conservative play calls allowed the Texans to stay close and eventually take the lead late in the 4th quarter.
5. The Titans brought a knife to a gunfight.
Whenever teams are scoring at a high level coaches have to recognize the shift in momentum. The coaching staff didn't do that. They overworked their defense while allowing their offensive philosophy to stay conservative(knife) while their opponent kept up their onslaught(gun) of brilliant and timely calls. 0-2 isn't the end of the world. Pittsburgh started 0-2 last season and won the Superbowl.
Kerry Collins has been serviceable the first two games but dropped balls by Justin Gage and Ahmad Hall are common place. The return of Bo Scaife and the health of Jared Cook is one of the keys to turning things around. The New York Jets are an upstart team with a huge amount of confidence. This team needs to be punched in the mouth offensively. A field goal and a cloud of dust will not suffice this weekend. Chris Johnson will do his part but the receiving corp and coaching staff must keep their defense off of the field for long periods of time.
Visiting Houston this week has been an eye opener. The radio station 790 AM, has the fans of the Texans believing that they can challenge for the AFC South title. Our play is 0n both sides of the ball has got to get better or Jeff will be preparing to draft a "shutdown" corner in the top half of the draft. Get ready for 0-3...