Chargers vs. Titans: Breaking Down Tennessee's Game Plan

Marlon MaloneyCorrespondent ISeptember 19, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 15:  Alterraun Verner #20 of the Tennessee Titans celebrates with his teammates after a touchdown in the second half against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on September 15, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Most Tennessee Titans fans will remember the San Diego Chargers' 38-10 thrashing of Tennessee in 2012 as a clear indication of the long season they were in for. What many Titans fans may not realize is that defeat marked Tennessee's ninth consecutive loss to San Diego.

The Titans defense has shown itself to be far and away better than it was last season and may end up being a top-10 unit when all 17 weeks have rolled by.

While the offense is still yet to have turned the ball over, there is a lot left to be desired. Players can take solace in the fact that they've faced two elite defenses in Pittsburgh and Houston. Jake Locker is averaging fewer than 150 yards passing per game, and the running game, which was expected to carry the offense, is still a work in progress.

The Chargers defense is ranked 31st overall through two weeks, but playing the Texans and Eagles doesn't paint a clear picture.

In order to beat the Chargers and put an end to San Diego's domination of the Titans, this is what Tennessee will need to do.


Unleash the Passing Game

The Titans have invested two first-round picks and one from the early second round in their receiving corps, yet seem to be incapable of utilizing their talent.

Tennessee is ranked dead last in passing offense, and it's not some coincidence.

The Titans clearly have not found one receiving threat capable of taking over a game the way the division rival Colts and Texans have in the form of Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. Nate Washington continues to lead the way as a big-play threat, and the team is making Kendall Wright a nice chain-moving option, but after them no one has stepped up.

Kenny Britt has failed to become the true No. 1 receiver he seemed to be on his way to becoming in 2011. The receiving talent isn't solely to blame: Jake Locker still has his struggles with accuracy, and the coaching staff is unwilling to let the ball fly.

In Week 2, after the Titans failed to gain a first down for seven consecutive drives, the team went to its hurry-up offense and immediately drove 99 yards for a touchdown. The Titans cannot afford to continue limiting their offense, or teams will begin to stack the box with eight defenders.

The Titans must incorporate more of the hurry-up offense into the game plan and allow Jake Locker to take some chances thowing the ball.

To date, the Chargers have allowed an NFL-worst 375.5 yards passing per game.


Pressure Philip Rivers 

San Diego has been utilizing new head coach Mike McCoy's offense to revitalize Philip Rivers' career.

Rivers has thrown for 614 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception. The Titans have done a great job of forcing teams to punt through two weeks.

On 30 third-down attempts, the Titans have allowed only 10 conversions. Tennessee's improved pass rush and coverage have made the defense a forced to be reckoned with. The Titans have seven sacks so far and will need to keep the pressure up to knock Philip Rivers off his game.


Get Chris Johnson Going 

The Chargers held Johnson to 17 yards on eight carries last year. Johnson improved on his Week 1 performance by breaking off 96 yards on 25 carries against the Texans, but the Titans need him to do more. 

The Chargers defense has yielded 4.3 yards per carry, and the Titans have made it clear that they will feed Johnson carries no matter what. San Diego's D represents the best opportunity for the Titans to show how dominant their running game can be.

Johnson had a few nice runs taken away by penalties last week and seemed to be on the verge of making the big play with just a little more space.

The Titans need to show improvement in some way offensively to allow the team's defense a bit more breathing room.

This is the week to do it.