Patriots vs. Titans: How Tennessee Should Attack New England

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Patriots vs. Titans: How Tennessee Should Attack New England
Photo courtesy Associated Press.

The Tennessee Titans could be a bigger threat to the New England Patriots than they're being given credit for.

Their defense gave up a lot of yards last year but finished the league ranked eighth in scoring. They have top picks at the skill positions in wide receivers Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright, running back Chris Johnson and quarterback Jake Locker. The offense has explosive capability with everyone on the field.

Unfortunately for Tennessee, not everyone will be on the field, with Britt serving a one-game suspension. 

Still, there are some clear weaknesses that the Titans should be trying to exploit. These are some of the ways the Titans could pull off the upset.

 

Test the Tackles

Winslow Townson/Getty Images
The struggles of the New England offensive line in preseason were well documented. Don't think for a minute that the Titans haven't noticed.

"Just by watching a little film of what’s been happening in the preseason, they have a couple of weaknesses and we’re going to try and exploit it," defensive lineman Sen'Derrick Marks said, according to The Tennesseean. 

Specifically, left tackle Nate Solder and right tackle Marcus Cannon were victimized.

Solder struggled in the first two games but improved against the Buccaneers. Cannon struggled all preseason long, but luckily for New England, right tackle Sebastian Vollmer has returned to action and will be in the starting lineup for Week 1.

That being said, he only played nine snaps against the Giants in the final preseason game, according to ESPN, and his back remains a concern.

With Vollmer showing some chinks in his physical armor and Solder showing some chinks in his fundamental armor, the Titans should be in attack mode on the Patriots offensive tackles early.

 

Get Jake Locker Outside the Pocket on Bootlegs

Frederick Breedon/Getty Images
Jake Locker was not a great pocket passer last year, and although he has shown improvement in that regard in the preseason, the best way to take advantage of his athleticism is to get him outside of the pocket and allow him to make reads without all the clutter in his face.

Not only would rolling out neutralize the interior pressure that Vince Wilfork, Kyle Love and now even Jermaine Cunningham could be bringing, but it will also force Chandler Jones to throttle it down in passing situations on the off chance Locker makes a break for it.

Former Patriots linebacker-turned-ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi went in-depth with reasons why this is a good tactic:

They need to stay away from the middle of the line, because the Patriots have an advantage there with Vince Wilfork and Brandon Spikes up the middle. I think they'll try to test the edges of the Patriots defense.

When you have an athletic quarterback like Locker, he can bootleg out the other way and get on the edge with his athletic ability. He can hold that defender back because he's checking for that bootleg or quarterback run. That can open up some running lanes. So Locker is another aspect in the running game that the Patriots will have to account for.

The threat of the run will be a positive for the Titans, but as long as the Patriots aren't giving up big plays in the passing game, they will take it.

 

Target Devin McCourty

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
2012 is a new year for Devin McCourty, and although it's possible that McCourty could return to 2010 form, the Titans shouldn't accept it as an inevitability.

Courtesy Pro Football Focus.
McCourty finished among the league's worst in several categories just a year after performing among the best cornerbacks in the league in those same indicators. McCourty has shown the potential to be a top-notch cornerback, but with two years of tape on him, the book may be out on how to attack him.

It's unfortunate for Tennessee that wide receiver Kenny Britt will miss this game with a suspension, because he would likely be a handful for McCourty with his size and stride.

 

Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.

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