Tennessee Titans Preseason Week 2: Locker Is Lousy, Team Is Good

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistAugust 18, 2012

Uh, Jake...is that a jump pass?
Uh, Jake...is that a jump pass?Jeff Griffith-US PRESSWIRE

The Tennessee Titans beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-7 on Aug. 17. That piece of information is utterly irrelevant.

Here's what does matter from the Titans second preseason game.


Jake Locker Fails to...Well, Pretty Much Do Anything

The hope for Locker was that he'd step up and take a firm grasp of the starting job.

That didn't happen.

I'll likely spend more time on Locker's play in this week's "Had a Bad Day", but for now the stats speak for themselves. While numbers can be deceiving, especially in the preseason, there's nothing misleading about Locker's putrid line of 4-of-11 for 21 yards with a pick.

He made poor decisions, was inaccurate and turned the ball over. His interception was completely uncalled for, as he had plenty of time to set his feet and make an accurate throw. Instead, he committed the cardinal sin of quarterbacking: throwing late, across his body, over the middle.

Even after the interception, it got no better. He didn't look good throwing on the run.

He did make some nice plays with his legs, and to his credit, the team did put up points under his lead, but the mistakes were simply too big to ignore. Many of them looked like breakdowns in his fundamentals when rushed.

That's not the way to win a starting job.

Matt Hasselbeck threw just five passes for 29 yards, and none of them were downfield looks. I don't think his longest pass traveled more than five yards in the air. Other than being a veteran, it's not like he has done anything to show he should be the starter.

So the the competition is back on. Hooray.


Titans Defense Shines

My crush on Colin McCarthy got a little bigger this week, as his name was called early and often. He was involved in a little bit of everything from rushing the passer to breaking up passes.

Josh Freeman played a little over a quarter for the Bucs, so it's hardly fair to overpraise the defense. Still, the Titans lost a game to Dan Orlovsky in 2011, so it's still something of a test. For the most part, the second quarter consisted of the Titans starters against Tampa's second string.

It was hard to pick out any one star for the Titans, though Sen'Derrick Marks' outstanding sack/forced fumble/recovery was a highlight.

The line got good penetration on both run and pass plays, forcing multiple turnovers through good pressure and tight coverage. Whether it was a linebacker like Akeem Ayers or a lineman, the Titans were impressive.


Other notes

  • Marc Mariani looked strong on his lone kick return, but Darius Reynaud was even more impressive, getting good returns on both kicks and punts. When he got the ball in the run game, he ripped off a nice gain and led the team in rushing for the day.
  • Chris Johnson struggled early, but he came on after a few carries and ran hard. It was a noticeable improvement over Week 1. When he's in space, he's so elusive. He still had a few runs blown up, but those weren't his fault.