Tennessee Titans: The Good, Bad and Ugly of First 4 Games
It was no secret heading into the season that the Tennessee Titans were going to have a tough road with their first four games.
The Titans have come out of the rough stretch limping, but not out of the fight just yet.
Their first four opponents have a combined record of 10-6 so far, and that combined record should improve drastically by the end of the season.
The 1-3 start is still disappointing, but the schedule does get somewhat more manageable in the coming weeks.
Head coach Mike Munchak has plenty of areas to improve as a matchup with the resurgent Minnesota Vikings will start the second quarter of the 2012 season.
Here's the good, bad and ugly for the Titans so far.
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The younger and inexperienced players have really highlighted the good things we've seen from the Titans this season, and it obviously starts with Jake Locker's quick maturation.
Before Locker's unfortunate injury last week against the Houston Texans, he was showing steady improvement in each game.
It's unfortunate that this injury came at a time when Locker really seemed to be taking the next step, but it's been a very promising development for the future of the Titans organization.
Perhaps Locker's most encouraging improvement in just his second NFL season is his completion percentage, which sits at 63 percent.
Locker should technically be considered a rookie, and only Robert Griffin III has a better completion percentage right now among rookie quarterbacks.
On defense, Akeem Ayers has really made some great strides from his rookie season as he's currently tied for second in the NFL with 45 tackles.
Ayers is only going to get better as the season progresses.
Finally, how about a little love for Darius Reynaud and how well he's done to replace Marc Mariani on kick returns? He's made it clear that the Titans have a game-changer returning kicks for them.
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Jerry Gray has mainly put out a zone coverage defense that has gotten carved up by every quarterback the Titans have faced.
Anytime your defense has given up 30 points or more through each of the first four games, you have major problems.
This Titans secondary has already given up ten passing touchdowns through just four games. That's tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for second-worst in the NFL.
The fact that the Titans aren't 0-4 due to this simple fact is lucky in itself.
It has to get better or the Titans will struggle to even equal their win output from 2011, which was nine.
The NFL is a passing league and the Titans will face capable quarterbacks virtually every game this season.
A part of this problem also falls on getting pressure on the quarterback. It has seemed like the Titans have improved from last season's performance in rushing the passer, but it still needs to improve to help this suspect secondary.
Maybe the Titans really are missing Cortland Finnegan, but this zone coverage scheme has to be tweaked drastically moving forward.
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Chris Johnson finally had his breakout game Titans fans were foaming at the mouth for against the Houston Texans, but the game still ended in a blowout loss.
However, that can be attributed more to the Texans being a Super Bowl contender than Johnson not being a vital piece to this team's success.
If that 141-yard performance is a sign of things to come for Johnson in 2012, then the Titans offense may be able to offset their terrible secondary.
The problem is that Johnson didn't even do a fraction of that in the first three games, and it probably cost them at least a win over the San Diego Chargers.
The offensive line also has to do a lot better job at opening up running lanes for a guy that relies so heavily on his speed.
What's been so ugly about this running game is that many times it can't even muster up one or two yards on first down.
Not gaining any yards on first down is so detrimental to an offense, particularly one as inexperienced as the Titans.
Hopefully Johnson found a formula for success against the Texans, because the start to 2012 hasn't been pretty overall.