Tennessee Titans: Stock Up, Stock Down for Key Players After Week 3
The Titans earned a tough win this week against Detroit, but it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. The defense still gave up a lot of points, and plenty of mistakes were made on both sides of the ball.
Of course, after the Titans' performance in the first two weeks, there was way more good than bad to take away from the game because, after all, the end result was a win.
Here is a list of 10 players who saw their stock affected, either positively or negatively from this game.
Stock Up: Jake Locker
Well, let's start with the biggest one. Jake Locker was fantastic.
He had one big gaffe when he fumbled the ball early on, but after that, he was great. The numbers, of course, tell a pretty convincing story.
Locker threw for 378 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and rushed for an additional 35 yards.
Another number that helps is his QBR. For those of you unaware, QBR is this new metric that ESPN is super excited about that measures how well a quarterback did and when he did it. Essentially, it's the QB rating with clutchness factored in and scaled from 1 to 100.
Locker had a QBR of 86.8 this game. For comparison, here's a list of some of the quarterbacks who had a lower rating than that this week:
For the record, don't expect that kind of play from Locker on a weekly basis, but now we know what a good Jake Locker looks like on the field.
Stock Down: Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson actually had the best game of the season, so far, and if you ask me, the fact that the Detroit Lions had to at least account for the run made the difference in the game.
He had a few good runs in the first half, but after that (when the Lions defense started accounting for the run), it was all downhill.
Despite this being a "good" game for Johnson, the fact that we're three games into the season and have seen so little of him pretty firmly establishes what people have been fearing for a few weeks now.
Johnson may be done as a decent running back. He still cuts back too often, but even if he were chugging ahead full force, he just doesn't have that second step that he used to have. He's simply taken too much punishment in his short career.
Going forward, expect this to be about as good as it gets for Johnson. It's sad, but that seems to be what's happening.
Stock Up: Nate Washington
Washington caught all three passes that were thrown his way for a total of 117 yards. Now, of course, his 71-yard touchdown catch was amazing, but by itself, that doesn't make for a good game.
However, even if you take out the 71 yards he gained on that play, he still averaged 20 yards per catch with the other two.
Washington has shown that 2011 was no fluke, and he can be as dynamic a deep threat as anyone else out there. Since Jake Locker likes to throw bombs, you should expect to see more throws go Washington's way after this.
Stock Down: Derrick Morgan
Derrick Morgan was off to a great start this season. In Week 1 against the Patriots, he registered six solo tackles and a tackle for loss.
In Week 2, he had an outstanding game, forcing several incomplete passes while also nabbing a sack, two tackles for loss, a quarterback hit and seven total tackles.
This week, on the other hand, he didn't do much of anything. He had three tackles, none of them solo, and was more or less shut down at the line of scrimmage.
This is disappointing because the Lions have a very lackluster offensive line, and I expected a big week from Morgan after he did so well in the first two games.
Hopefully, we'll see more of the Morgan from the Patriots and Chargers games and less of the Morgan from this one in the weeks to come.
Stock Up: Akeem Ayers
Akeem Ayers had one amazing game. Ayers had the game's only sack, a tackle for loss, a defended pass, a quarterback hit and a team-high 16 tackles (10 of them solo).
He did an excellent job displaying his versatility in both setting the edge against the run and rushing the passer effectively and even dropping into coverage fairly well. He seems to have made big strides in his game already.
Last season, Ayers was great at defending the run, but he didn't show anything in the way of pass coverage or pass-rushing. This year, he already seems to be doing much better in those areas, and it he keeps it up, he'll be a dangerous player all over the field.
Ayers also batted down a pass which resulted in the tying touchdown. That was bad luck, and 99 times out of 100, batting that pass down would have been a safer approach than trying to catch it (just look at what happened at the end of the Packers-Seahawks game on Monday).
Stock Down: Robert Johnson
The Titans have been struggling in coverage to say the least. For some unknown reason, Michael Griffin was moved to strong safety, and Robert Johnson started opposite him at free safety.
Thankfully, it seems the Titans have now moved away from that and are back to putting Jordan Babineaux on the field as the strong safety and Griffin as the free safety.
In his limited time on the field, Johnson had one tackle, while Babineaux had five tackles (three solo) and two defended passes. I don't think there's any doubt as to what the better safety tandem is now.
Stock Up: Michael Roos
Michael Roos had a rough Week 1, where he got beat by Chandler Jones for a sack and forced fumble which resulted in a big play.
Then, he struggled again in Week 2, and I was starting to wonder myself if he'd started to lose his edge.
However, whether he was on Cliff Avril or Kyle Vanden Bosch, Roos didn't let anyone through him. The Lions, despite having two Pro Bowl edge rushers, registered zero sacks against Tennessee, and the only hit on Jake Locker came from Ndamukong Suh.
Of course, no sacks came from a group effort on the offensive line, but since Roos is the leader of that line, I'm giving him the honor of being named in the actual slide.
For the record, David Stewart also had a great game, and the interior linemen, even though the run blocking was still bad, managed to keep Suh out of the backfield every snap except for one, and that is no small feat.
Stock Down: Rob Bironas
Rob Bironas has been the picture of consistency over the last few years, so I have no idea how he missed what should have been two easy field goals against the Lions.
If I'm not mistaken, the last time he missed two field goals in one game was in the opening of the 2009 season, when the Titans lost to the Steelers 13-10 in overtime.
Had Bironas made those field goals, then Tennessee likely would have locked up the game much sooner, but if that were to happen, then the game wouldn't have been so incredibly great to watch.
Don't expect this to affect Bironas too much this season.
Stock Up: Alterraun Verner
Alterraun Verner had a bigger game than the stats show. He had one "fumble," but he actually ripped the ball straight out of the hands of Brandon Pettigrew and ran it back for a touchdown (then did what I guess we'll call an L.P. Leap into the crowd).
However, he also had what would have been an interception that was negated by a penalty and seven total tackles (three solo).
The fact that Calvin Johnson was limited to one touchdown shows that the Titans corners were doing something right. One does not simply shut down Calvin.
Verner's playmaking style of play complements Jason McCourty's well, and if he keeps creating turnovers like he does, then the Titans' defensive secondary could return to 2011 form.
Stock Up: Too Many for One Slide Show
I highlighted a few individuals, but so many of the Titans players really stepped up against the Lions. The win was absolutely a team effort, and the entire team deserves credit. Other players who stepped up and had a good game were:
Last but not least, there's the coaching staff. The plays were less predictable, they were gutsy, and the timeouts were used efficiently. Most importantly, when a team gets together and plays this well at the same time, I think a lot of the credit goes to the coaches.
So stock up Mike Munchak, Jerry Gray, Chris Palmer, Bruce Matthews and Alan Lowry.