Chargers vs. Titans: Full Roster Report Grades for Tennessee
It was the first win for the Titans over the Chargers since 1992, and Tennessee has now defeated every team in the NFL since becoming the Titans.
With this win, the Titans sit in a three-way tie atop the AFC South with their next two games coming at home. The Jets will pay a visit to LP Field in Week 4.
It wasn't all pretty in the win for the Titans. Here are the roster grades for each positional unit in their 20-17 win over the Chargers.
It was easily one the Jake Locker's best games of his young career as he reminded everyone that he has speed to burn and can make defenses pay outside the pocket.
Locker really got the crowd fired up when he scrambled for a 39-yard run late in the first quarter, and then did it again for seven yards to tie the game heading into halftime.
It wasn't just Locker's scrambling ability that made this a game to remember. He made crisp throw after crisp throw to keep the Titans moving down the field. A few drops and unfortunate penalties really kept this offense from putting up more points.
The way Locker marched the offense 94 yards with less than two minutes left in the game proves that he is so much better than he was last season.
Even after he overthrew Damian Williams for the go-ahead score, he still remained poised enough to throw a strike to Justin Hunter on the very next play for the game winner.
If this performance is a sign of things to come from Locker, then the Titans have excellent odds at competing in the AFC South with both the Texans and Colts. You just hope that this wasn't just an aberration.
Running Back (B+)
Chris Johnson, Jackie Battle
Things didn't come easy for Chris Johnson in last season's meeting with the Chargers, which ended in a 38-10 loss for the Titans.
This time around, Johnson made sure he helped the Titans be more competitive by rushing for nearly five yards per carry.
The few times that Johnson was snuffed out at the line of scrimmage, it was more of an offensive line issue than it was on him.
What was so impressive about Johnson's performance was not just the 90 yards on 19 rushes. It was how he broke tackles and moved the pile to grind out extra yardage. We didn't see that from Johnson the last couple of seasons.
Jackie Battle was kept in check by his former team, but he wasn't really needed after the gutsy performance that Johnson turned in.
Shonn Greene missed this game due to a knee injury, and will likely miss next week against his former team, the Jets.
Wide Receiver (A-)
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Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter, Damian Williams, Kenny Britt
Could a Hollywood script for this game have been written any better when a former University of Tennessee standout receiver catches the game-winning touchdown for the Titans in the home opener?
That's exactly what happened when Justin Hunter made his first career catch to pretty much seal the victory for the Titans.
The Titans have to make sure they continue to take advantage of Hunter's size and ability to leap for passes over smaller defenders.
With the exception of Kenny Britt's horrible day, it was a complete effort by this group of receivers that is loaded with depth.
Nate Washington had another strong outing as he eclipsed 100 yards, and Kendall Wright had an efficient day as he caught all six of his targets for 71 yards. Washington sprinkled in some key blocks to spring Chris Johnson for some extra yardage, as well.
This unit still thrived despite another no-show by Britt, and that is the most encouraging sign to pull from this win.
Tight End (B)
Delanie Walker, Craig Stevens, Taylor Thompson
Delanie Walker continues to be the only guy at tight end making any sort of contribution to the passing game.
With that said, it was a solid performance for Walker if you take out the perfect pass from Locker that bounced off his hands and nearly ended the game in the Chargers' favor. Walker redeemed himself by not giving up on the play and dishing out a hit that forced the Chargers defender to drop the ball. The rest is history.
You can't always measure greatness in the box score, but that play by Walker is a good example of how valuable he is to this team. The five catches for 49 yards was just another reason that this offense was never really held in check by the Chargers defense after the first two drives of the game.
Offensive Line (C+)
Rob Turner, David Stewart, Michel Roos, Andy Levitre, Chance Warmack
The offensive line was regarded as the Titans' strongest unit heading into the season, but they still haven't played to the best of their abilities.
Locker faced a ton of pressure the entire game and was luckily able to scramble effectively enough to only be sacked twice. It's not always going to be easy for Locker to run wild like he did in this particular game, so the pass protection has to play a little better when the better defenses come up on the schedule.
They still managed to open up enough lanes for Johnson to help the Titans have another solid day running the football, with the exception of a missed block by Roos that led to a five-yard loss for Johnson and a drive-ending punt.
This unit will continue to improve as they play more together. Three of these guys are new faces this season.
Chance Warmack also deserves some positive attention for jumping on the fumble by Locker, preserving the chance for a field goal that the Titans down by just four.
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Akeem Ayers, Zach Brown, Moise Fokou, Colin McCarthy
It wasn't the best performance we've seen from this unit, but they still made some key plays towards the end that kept Philip Rivers from going off.
The early part of the game was a rough start as Antonio Gates was basically doing whatever he wanted to help put the Chargers up 7-0 on their first drive of the game.
However, you can't really fault Zach Brown on the touchdown grab by Gates. It was perfect coverage by Brown and simply a great catch from a great tight end.
Moise Fokou really settled down and had an impressive game after the unnecessary roughness penalty in the first quarter. You don't mind seeing your guys play with a little fire as long as it doesn't turn into a pattern of 15-yard penalties every week.
The one guy who really burned this unit all day was Danny Woodhead. The guy just couldn't seem to be contained, especially in the first half. He was the one guy that gave the Chargers' offense a pulse after the Gates touchdown.
A lot was made in the offseason about Akeem Ayers becoming more of a pass-rusher, so it was good to see him notch his first sack of the season.
We also had a Colin McCarthy sighting as he saw some action on defense after Fokou was put out of the game with an injury for a short while. McCarthy has largely been limited to special teams this season.
It was an overall strong effort from this unit to help hold the Chargers to just 17 points.
Defensive Line (C+)
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Ropati Pitoitua, Antonio Johnson, Jurrell Casey, Karl Klug, Derrick Morgan
It wasn't the best effort from this unit, but they did just enough to manage the weak Chargers' rushing attack.
Ryan Mathews got loose a couple times, and Danny Woodhead was the main reason this offense was able to do much of anything after the opening drive.
A sack from Antonio Johnson, who was filling in for an injured Sammie Hill, was one of the few bright spots from the defensive line. They didn't get consistent pressure on Philip Rivers outside of that one sack, which was a big one in the third quarter to force the Chargers into a 3rd-and-10 attempt that ended up being one yard short.
There are still some questions marks surrounding this unit going forward after the average performance against the Chargers.
Defensive Back (A)
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Jason McCourty, Alterraun Verner, Bernard Pollard, Michael Griffin, George Wilson, Coty Sensabaugh
Even though Philip Rivers went 20-of-24 on the day, it was still a great showing from the Titans' secondary. Rivers was never able to complete the big throw outside of a couple completions.
The pass interference and defensive holding penalties do need to be cleaned up going forward as they contributed to the Titans finishing with 116 yards worth of penalties. That's usually not a winning formula.
However, you have to love what you're seeing from this newly assembled secondary that features Bernard Pollard. He brings that tenacity that every good defense has, and that wasn't absent in this game.
Jason McCourty had a couple big open-field tackles in the game, including one that forced a punt.
One of the many big plays came on special teams when Pollard blocked a field-goal attempt to keep the score tied at 10 heading into halftime. It was an excellent effort by Pollard on a play that proved to be a critical one.
Anytime a secondary can hold an elite quarterback like River under 200 yards, they're doing something right.
Special Teams (C )
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Special teams continues to be kind of a problem for the Titans.
First off, Reynaud had some questionable returns on both punts and kickoffs. He's an electrifying player that can change the scoreboard in just a few seconds, but he needs to learn to take a knee and not risk pinning his offense inside the 20-yard line.
Rob Bironas also seems to not be in full form just yet. He did make two out of three field goal attempts, but even his 37-yard field goal was not a pretty one.
The Titans had penalties all over the place against the Chargers, but one that almost doomed the Titans was a block in the back on a kickoff return on the final drive. It put the Titans back inside the 10-yard line, but Locker saved the touchdown drive of his career for this particular day.
If it's any consolation, Brett Kern had another respectable outing with his three punts.
This is still the one unit that has the most area for improvement heading into Week 4 against Jets.