Titans vs. Patriots: 5 Things We Learned in the Loss
Both sides of the ball showed glimpses of greatness—as well as glimpses of inexperience.
This is no time to panic for the Titans, but here are five things we learned about this young team looking forward to next week's trip to San Diego.
Chris Johnson May Be a Lost Cause
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Let's forget for a moment Chris Johnson's dismal stat line to open the 2012 campaign.
The heart and desire just didn't show up this week. He seemed out of touch the entire game.
It was almost like when Johnson realized his team had no chance, he figured he would stop trying. Obviously this is speculation on my part—I can't read the guy's mind, but I can read his body language.
All you have to do is go back and watch a crossing route Johnson ran towards the end of the game. Johnson made no attempt whatsoever to even get to the ball even though Matt Hasselbeck led him perfectly.
Granted, the game was out of reach, but these are the types of signs you don't want to see out of someone who is supposed to be your top weapon.
Johnson's 11 carries for four yards is pathetic. Stevan Ridley completely outplayed him on the other side of the ball despite a relentless defensive attack put forth by the Titans.
He has to turn it around quickly or the Titans could be in for a rough season.
The Jeff Fisher Era Is Long Gone
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Overall, I thought Mike Munchak called a very clean game. He kept the Patriots defense off balance for a good chunk of the game, but unfortunately that failed to translate into touchdowns.
The Titans ran a lot of play action on first down, and Munchak's gutsiest call was to go for it on fourth-and-short in the first quarter.
The Titans are going to have to take chances this season if they're going to pull off a few upsets, which they'll have to on this brutal schedule in front of them.
When you look at the final score, you may immediately think Jeff Fisher. However, when you dissect the play calling, you'll see it was the opposite all day long.
Jared Cook Is Going to Break Out This Season
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This guy officially got everyone's attention last year, but 2012 should be the first time for him to really put together a consistent season.
Cook had six targets in this game, catching four for 64 yards.
It also seemed that the officials missed a call in the endzone that could've been ruled pass interference on the defender.
The Titans need to look Cook's way even more. He's so athletic that very few linebackers can cover him if the ball is delivered effectively.
Cook can provide the safety net that Locker desperately needs to be successful.
Next week the Titans will have another tough opponent that will score their fair share of points. The Titans, on the other hand, will need to score more than 13 points to avoid an 0-2 start.
If Cook can get plenty of looks, the production will follow.
The Titans Have the Best Backup QB in the NFL
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It didn't take long for Matt Hasselbeck to see his first regular season action of the 2012 season. After Locker went down with an injury while making a tackle, Hasselbeck came in and played solid football.
He had the offense moving the ball and playing catch up.
Hasselbeck did exactly what he was excelled at last season: moving the ball methodically, but not doing anything overly impressive.
The Titans are extremely lucky to have such a great quarterback to turn to if Locker goes down. And given the way Locker plays the game outside of the pocket, injuries are very probable for Locker this season.
There's no questioning the fact that Locker has to remain the starter going forward, but it has to be comforting to know that Hasselbeck can come off the bench and move the offense effectively like he did against the Patriots.
The Titans Can Hang with Anyone
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Sure, an 21-point loss is still a bad way to start the regular season. However, things do have to put into perspective following this loss to the defending AFC champs.
The Patriots are one of the gold standards of the NFL, and it was good to see that the Titans didn't roll over.
You take out the tough fumble by Locker that turned into a touchdown for the Patriots and you have a completely different game in the fourth quarter.
There were also a couple tough calls against the Titans by the infamous replacement officials, the biggest one obviously being that missed pass interference call that should've given Tennessee a 7-0 lead to start the game.
Momentum is a huge part of any sport, and the difference between an opening field goal or a opening touchdown was huge.
The Titans are still very much finding their way on both sides of the ball, but there is a ton of raw talent that is going to continue to get better as this season progresses.
Look for the Titans to pull off a couple upsets this season and push for a wildcard berth.