Titans vs. Chargers Take Two

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistSeptember 17, 2012

"Yeah, it's my fault! And your fault! And everyone's fault!"
"Yeah, it's my fault! And your fault! And everyone's fault!"Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

It's a good thing teams don't travel by train in modern days.

If they did, the Tennessee Titans' would certainly have wrecked by now.

After another drubbing, this one at the hands of the San Diego Chargers by a score of 38-10, the Titans have to pick up the pieces and move on.

A second look at the tape shows just how bad it was.


The Real Story

Numbers may lie, but in this case they've sworn on a stack of Bibles and are telling nothing but truth.

The Chargers out-gained the Titans almost 2-to-1.

They had three times as many first downs as Tennessee.

They held the ball for nearly 44 minutes.

San Diego scored a touchdown on its second possession to take a 14-0 lead, and the game would never be closer than that the rest of the afternoon.



Other than the brave men and women who actually watched all 60 minutes of this game while wearing Titans colors, it's difficult to find one for Mike Munchak's team. 

To preserve the integrity of the template, we'll go with the rookies Mark Martin and Zach Brown, who both collected sacks.



It's often too easy throw stones at the losing quarterback, but Jake Locker simply didn't make enough plays to offset the erratic moments. His first-quarter interception was truly terrible, and the two-pass sequence on 1st-and-goal was cringe-worthy.

For all the heat on Chris Johnson, the interior of the offensive line was a mess as well. Johnson rarely had discernible holes to run through, as the linemen simply weren't creating space.

Finally, a special mention has to go out to Michael Griffin and Robert Johnson, the safeties who seemed lost in deep coverage most pf the day.

This was one of those games where it felt like the whole team could safely be listed.


Secret Play

Trailing 17-3 with 9:49 to play in the third quarter, the Titans faced a 2nd-and-5 from their own 37.

Locker dropped back to pass and found rookie tight end Taylor Thompson open deep. Thompson looked uncomfortable in the route and stopped as the ball sailed over his head.

Locker overthrew the ball, but Thompson is still learning to be a receiver and did little to help his quarterback. Two plays later, the Titans punted. San Diego would take the ensuing possession the distance for a 24-3 lead.

This play is emblematic of where the Titans are now. There's real talent there, but no one is making the critical plays, and the whole team seems slightly uncomfortable and ungainly.

In other words, the whole franchise plays like a converted rookie tight end.


Coaching Notes

Penalties plagued the Titans all game long. They are often a sign of an undisciplined or poorly prepared team.

It may be too soon to hang that on Munchak, but it bears watching as the weeks go on.

In the third quarter, the Titans trailed 17-3, and faced a 4th-and-1 from their own 41. They punted.

San Diego drove the length of the field for a score. At 24-3, the game was functionally over.

I hope those 47 yards of field position keep Munchak warm at night.


The Big Picture

It has been an ugly start, but it's too soon to panic. On one hand, the Titans have played worse than anyone thought possible, but on the other hand, they are exactly where everyone reasonably expected them to be.

Watch for what kind of schematic changes they make as they prepare for the Lions. It's obvious the run blocking isn't working. It's clear the coverage schemes aren't making sense to the defensive backs.

The Titans need to simply do what they are doing and nail down a few go-to plays they can run successfully.

Doing less is the key to ending a slump. Doing less, but doing it better, could lift the Titans to a surprise win and put them back in the hunt in the AFC South.


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