Titans vs. Chargers: Tennessee Gets Pounded on Trip to the Coast

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistSeptember 16, 2012

Johnson has seen better days.
Johnson has seen better days.Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

With no Antonio Gates to defend, the Titans figured they had caught a break.

Unfortunately, San Diego tight end Dante Rosario did his best Gates impersonation, ringing up three touchdowns in a 38-10 beatdown of the visiting Titans in Week 2.

For Tennessee, it was the second straight embarrassing loss to open the year. They have now been outscored 72-23 this season. 

The culprits were multi-fold against the Chargers.

Jake Locker struggled to hit open players all day, completing just 15-of-30 passes for 174 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Of course, he was consistently flushed from the pocket by an active Chargers defense that posted no sacks but did keep Locker unsettled.

The return of Kenny Britt to the offense had no discernible impact for Tennessee, as he picked up just one catch for five yards.

The run game couldn't generate yardage either. Chris Johnson was terrible once again, putting up just 17 yards on eight carries. In two games now, he's run the ball 19 times for 21 yards.

Even measured in feet per carry, 3.3 isn't a good number.

Defensively, the Chargers bullied the Titans. Tennessee did manage more of a pass rush versus San Diego, but four sacks don't do much to offset the nearly nine yards a pass put up by Phillip Rivers.

Missing their starting running back and All-Pro tight end didn't come close to slowing up the Chargers offense. They posted 17 points on their first three possessions, and the outcome was never in doubt thereafter.

The Titans' only touchdown of the game came after a sparkling 71-yard kick return by Lavelle Hawkins. Jake Locker subsequently found Kendall Wright for the wideout's first NFL touchdown to cut the lead to 14, but it was as close as the Titans would get.

If there is a silver lining for Tennessee, it's that they knew coming in the early schedule was going to be tough. They only need to manage two wins in their first six games to have a viable shot at the playoffs. Granted, they never expected to get so completely waxed in the first two weeks, but an 0-2 start isn't reason for panic.

The Titans take on the Lions at home in Week 3, and they are going to have to find some answers in the secondary. Facing two elite passers, they have already given up five passing touchdowns and recorded just one interception.

With Calvin Johnson and Matt Stafford coming to Nashville, it won't get any easier for Tennessee.

Hopefully, it won't get any worse.

After all, how can it?