When to Watch
Normally, I don't encourage fans to watch more than seven of the 16 preseason quarters, but with the Tennessee Titans, that rule goes out the window.
The biggest issue with the Titans is going to be the quarterback battle between Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck, so that means the vast majority of every game is going to be must-see T.V.
The one thing to keep in mind is that both men won't be playing against the same level of competition. I would say outside of the fourth quarters of the first and fourth games, almost every preseason snap will contain some interest for Titans fans.
Unfortunately, the Titans got lousy preseason matchups with bottom-of-the-pack NFC teams. The Seahawks, Bucs, and Cardinals may be three of the most unwatchable teams in the other conference. Unless you are a big Josh Freeman enthusiast, there won't be much to attract anyone to the games.
Who to Watch
Obviously, Locker and Hasselbeck are going to be the main event, but there are other key players to follow as well.
Keep a close eye on Fernando Velasco at center. He's the front-runner for that job, and may actually prove an upgrade over Eugene Amano.
I'm especially curious to see Zach Brown in action. Reports on his performance at camp have been almost non-existent. The second-round pick was highly controversial, but until he sees action on the field, it will be hard to measure his impact.
What to Watch
Be sure to keep an eye on Kendall Wright to see when and how the Titans use him. His holdout cost him a week or so of camp, so he might not be featured early.
Watch the defensive line also. The Titans won't show too much in the preseason in terms of exotic blitzes, but the first quarter of each game should give good insight on how they hope to align.
I'm especially curious to see if Chris Johnson gets any touches in the passing game. Using him in open space seems like a recipe for big plays. If he does get extra attention in this regard, a big play or two on a screen could dramatically swing the stats for whichever quarterback hits him with the pass.
Because of that, don't pay too much attention to the numbers for Locker and Hasselbeck, but rather take note of who does a better job sustaining drives.
Just for Fun
If nothing else, Titans fans will get a good look at other quarterbacks still trying to establish themselves. Would the Titans rather have Matt Flynn, Josh Freeman, or Kevin Kolb than Jake Locker?
You could argue that Freeman could one day be a top 10 quarterback, but I don't know too many people that would take Flynn or Kolb over Locker.
This is a good time to compare and contrast where the franchise is versus where they could be.
What It Means
Repeat after me: preseason results mean nothing.
I mean less than nothing.
I mean the opposite of something.
In fact, winning in the preseason actually has a slight negative correlation with winning in the regular season.
The Titans' goals are different than most teams. They still have a big question to answer. They aren't worried about winning and losing the game as much as they are about figuring out who is going to lead the franchise this season.
Whether they win or lose is utterly irrelevant. There is no evidence of any benefit of any kind to winning preseason games.
If the Titans go 0-4, it reveals nothing about the team. If they go 4-0, it reveals nothing about the team.
Coaches want three things out of the preseason and nothing else matters:
- Good health
- Good play that's crisp and free of mental mistakes
- To evaluate players
Win or lose, preseason is time to enjoy the return of football without the weekly stress of the game's effect on the standings.
Don't sweat the outcomes or the stats. All that matters is if the team plays well and which quarterback plays better.