Tennessee Titans' 6 Most Intriguing Preseason Stats so Far
After just one preseason game, there are already a lot of things we're learning about the Tennessee Titans.
Now it's hard to gauge how seriously to take the preseason, since many teams who look great in the preseason flop once games start to matter and vice versa. After all, the Green Bay Packers did lose to the Arizona Cardinals 17 to nothing.
Still, you can learn some important things about your favorite team during the preseason, even if a lot of the goings on are white noise.
Here are six stats from the Titans' first week that are intriguing and worth watching in upcoming games.
1. Chris Johnson's Yards Per Carry
Chris Johnson had 60 rushing yards on Thursday night. That doesn't sound so impressive on its own, but when you remember that that total is from two rushes, it does.
Johnson's first carry got stuffed after a measly two yards, but on the second run, he got perfect blocking and exploded upfield for 58 yards, juking rookie safety Baccari Rambo in the process.
Johnson looks as explosive as ever, and if two plays is all it takes for him to break out, there's a lot of hope for a big season from him again.
2. Shonn Greene's Rushing Total
I was shocked by how effective Shonn Greene looked against the Redskins. The Titans offensive line looked superb when run-blocking, generally their weakest area over the last few years.
Greene had five carries for 32 yards and a touchdown, earning him an impressive average of 6.4 yards per carry. His longest was a fantastic 19-yarder in which he powered through tacklers.
Jackie Battle's numbers aren't impressive, but he was a battering ram picking up tough gains. He ought to be the favorite for the third running back spot.
I'm still skeptical about using the 10th overall pick on a right guard, but Chance Warmack was an impressive run-blocker, as advertised. He did struggle a bit in pass protection, though. Hopefully he improves in that are before the regular season begins.
3. The Receiver Who's Leading in Targets
All of the Titans' big-name receivers played against the Redskins. Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Justin Hunter, Kendall Wright and even Damian Williams all had some playing time at receiver.
However, not one of those guys saw the ball thrown to him as often as Michael Preston. Jake Locker may not have thrown to Preston (his favorite target was Britt), but Rusty Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick both made use of him.
Preston has also been having an impressive training camp, so it may not be long before he gets some more works with the No. 1s, especially if Britt, Hunter and Wright keep having problems with drops.
The Titans are deep at receiver, which ought to make it easier on Locker if he needs to spread the ball because of continued drop issues with the players who should be his go-to guys.
Or maybe he'll start relying more on guys like Preston.
4. The Pass Rush
Though they only produced one sack, and that sack of Rex Grossman, but they provided pressure all night.
Granted, the starting quarterback for the Redskins, Robert Griffin III, did not play, and his mobility would have made him a bit tougher to pressure, but the promising start is a sign of good things to come.
Lavar Edwards picked up the lone sack, but Karl Klug managed to show he was still a solid pass-rusher by getting to Redskins quarterbacks a few times. Jurrell Casey, Kamerion Wimbley and Ropati Pitoitua all put some pressure on as well.
With pass-rush pressure coming from both the interior and exterior of the defensive line, the Titans ought to see a more consistent pass rush this season overall, making them rely on Derrick Morgan less than they had to in 2012.
5. Who's Making the Tackles
One unfortunate stat is the tackle total. It's not that there wasn't enough tackling—it's just that too many tackles were made by defensive backs.
When a defensive back makes a tackle, it usually means one of two things: one, that there was a completed pass, or two, that a runner got past the front seven.
Neither of those are good things, and the Titans let it happen to them way too often. Four of the top six tacklers for the night were defensive backs, and the Titans allowed an overall completion rate of nearly 60 percent (when Washington's starter didn't even play).
The defense didn't do much better in the rushing category, allowing 162 rushing yards despite the fact that the Redskins' top rusher sat out too.
The Titans made a bunch of moves on defense, and some are looking wise, but there are still a lot of holes to fix there.
6. Marc Mariani's Returning
Marc Mariani is a player that every Titans fan is rooting for. However, a concern was that he could be psychologically unprepared to play.
He proved that notion wrong immediately.
Mariani's first and only kick return was a beauty in which he managed to move the ball 32 yards forward, giving the Titans offense great field position.
He looked quick, he looked focused, and he looked like he did pre-injury. If he continues to show that ability that got him into the Pro Bowl, he'll undoubtedly make this roster, even at the possible expense of Darius Reynaud.
His punt returns weren't bad either. One ended as soon as it began, but another he carried eight yards forward. He was the only punt returner for the Titans that night.