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Tennessee Titans Progress Report: Where Things Stand Heading into Week 8

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Tennessee Titans Progress Report: Where Things Stand Heading into Week 8
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Everyone calm down, I've got this.

The Tennessee Titans are 3-4 on the 2012 season and stand in third place in the AFC South.

In Week 8, they take on the Indianapolis Colts at LP Field in Nashville.

They rank 29th on offense, 30th on defense and 31st overall in DVOA.

 

Primary Talking Point for Week 8

The dominant story for the Titans has been if Matt Hasselbeck has done enough to replace Jake Locker as the starting quarterback.

This is an utterly ridiculous plot line.

There is no measure of quarterback play in which Hasselbeck has been better than Locker.

Yes, the Titans won two games (and lost two) with Hasselbeck, but that is as much a function of the schedule getting easier and Chris Johnson going nuts as it is the play of Hasselbeck.

Functionally, the team is 1-2 with Locker and 2-2 with Hasselbeck. Given that Locker is the better player, there's simply no evidence that there should even be a debate about this.

 

Injury Outlook

Aside from Locker's still ailing shoulder which will keep him out against the Colts, the big news was the emergency appendectomy of left tackle Michael Roos.

According to John Glennon of the Tennessean, Roos had surgery on the 22nd and will be day to day all week leading up to the Colts game.

Zac Diles is out for the year with a broken leg.

Patrick Bailey has a broken rib and will likely not play in Week 8.

Will Whitherspoon is battling a hamstring and should play.

(Tip to Glennon)

 

Player on the Rise

It has to be Chris Johnson.

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

It's hard to ever treat Johnson with any certainty, but the numbers are clearly trending up.

Weeks 1-3: 33 carries, 45 yards, 1.4 YPC

Weeks 4-7: 77 carries, 5.9 YPC

If that doesn't constitute "on the rise," nothing possibly could. Perhaps last week's end point wasn't so arbitrary after all.

 

Feel Good Stat of the Week

Three.

That's the number of teams in the AFC that have more wins than the Titans.

As awful as the season has been in so many ways for Tennessee, only the Texans, Ravens and Patriots have more wins than the Titans.

For a team that has struggled mightily through much of the year, the fact that they have a chance to go 4-4 and be right in the thick of the playoff race is a major encouragement.

 

Troubling Stat of the Week

There's still the little problem of every major statistical indicator for the Titans being awful.

Right now, it's difficult to find one thing they do well.

Forced to pick a single number to sum up the issues, points allowed shines through as best example of how bad a season it has been.

Tennessee has allowed 238 points, last in the NFL. Every team they've played except Pittsburgh has hung at least 30 points on them.

Last year, they didn't give 238 points until Week 14.

In 2008, they gave up 234 on the season.

So yeah.

 

Overall Trend: Rising

Again, the Titans have done what they had to do. They've survived.

The defense doesn't have to be great or even good. If Tennessee can just get to the coveted level of playing "not-horrible football," they can still have an interesting second half of the season.

Indianapolis is a team they should be able to beat handily. They are limited offensively, and have been blown out on the road twice.

Tennessee won't be able to win consistently playing like they have been, but they've bought time for the team to actually improve the quality of play.

Step two is playing better.

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