Tennessee vs. New Orleans: Report Cards for Each Titans Unit
The Titans may have lost to the Saints, but, just like as victory over the Packers was no reason to celebrate, this loss is no reason to get down in the dumps. The Titans looked infinitely better on offense and at least a little better on defense than they did in Week 1.
Jake Locker looked particularly good, but injuries to Shonn Greene and Charlie Whitehurst make the game not a great one.
Here are the report card grades for every unit.
Charlie Whitehurst got injured immediately, but it was still a great night overall for the quarterback position. Jake Locker was sharp and completed almost all of his throws.
He even got off a good seven-yard run when a play broke down.
Zach Mettenberger was not to be forgotten though. He played for most of the game, completing 20 of 25 passes for 269 yards, two touchdowns an interception and a lost fumble. Not bad for a sixth-round rookie.
There is a lot of reason for optimism from the most important position going forward.
Shonn Greene continued to look great this preseason. Unfortunately, he also had to leave the game early because of a knee injury. If he misses significant time, it will be a huge detriment to the team, since he's played very well so far.
Dexter McCluster had a solid game though, especially in the passing game. He may need to run the ball more than he expected, though.
Bishop Sankey had a mixed outing, looking fantastic at times, and reminding everyone that he's a rookie at others. He ended up having six carries for 31 yards but was left out of the passing game this week.
Greene's status will determine whether the Titans have a great group going forward, or just a decent group. For now, they look a little above average on the ground. However, with two fumbles, control of the ball is something the group needs to work on.
For the first team, the offensive line was outstanding. Chance Warmack and Brian Schwenke have both taken big steps forward in their second years. Michael Roos had a bad moment where he was beaten by Junior Galette for a sack, but was otherwise solid.
After the first team left the field, though, there were a lot more problems in the trenches. Taylor Lewan still has a way to go, though he's definitely got the talent to be a top tackle in the league.
The first team would get an A, but the weaknesses in their backups drops the grade for now.
Receivers and Tight Ends
The Titans have to like their receiving options going forward. Kendall Wright immediately looked like the same player he was in 2013, and Justin Hunter showed that, despite the added weight, he's just as fast as ever.
That coupled with the solid outing the running backs had when the ball was thrown their way, and Taylor Thompson's performance, and you have a solid group of targets for Locker to use.
Hunter had a particularly good outing with four receptions for 111 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown reception and one other touchdown.
The group looks promising, if a little shallow, so far.
It's surprising to see the players that made for a fantastic defensive line in 2013 make a substandard line in 2014 just because of a change in scheme, but that's what's happening.
Jurrell Casey drew a penalty, but was otherwise quiet, while Ropati Pitoitua and Sammie Hill did little other than fill in gaps at the line.
Hopefully, the Titans will look better on this front by the time the season rolls around, but seeing a strength turn into a weakness is never reassuring, no matter what the circumstances are.
The linebackers had a better game than the defensive line, but it was still nothing to brag about. While Wesley Woodyard did very well, Zach Brown was unimpressive, outside of a few nice plays, and Derrick Morgan was quiet.
Furthermore, Kamerion Wimbley got yet another start over Akeem Ayers, which has to be worrying. Between Morgan and Wimbley, the pass rush was more or less nonexistent.
Luckily, Ayers brought pressure with the second team and forced a few bad throws. Still, it looks to be an area of weakness for the Titans this season.
The defensive backs had the best unit on the Titans defense, but they weren't without weakness.
Tight ends continue to provide a problem for coverage. Still, Jimmy Graham is tough to cover for any team, so maybe it's not the end of the world.
Coty Sensabaugh seems to be well ahead of Blidi Wreh-Wilson in the race for starting corner, but after a lackluster performance the position is still definitely up for grabs.
Normally, 321 yards would get them a worse grade, but the fact that the Saints always had the ball (because of the turnovers) made it tough for them to keep the defense up. The defensive backs were good, but there was certainly still room for improvement.
The Titans' special teams units are in transition. There's a battle for the kick returner between Marc Mariani, Leon Washington, Dexter McCluster and newcomer Khalid Wooten.
For the night, Mariani returned most of the kickoffs, and he looked very good doing it. Mariani returned three kickoffs for a total of 90 yards and made the absolute most out of each one. He has to feel good about his chances of making the team going forward.
The kicking game is a fight too. Newcomer Travis Coons and Maikon Bonani, a practice squad guy from last year, are both trying to replace Rob Bironas.
Coons may have taken the lead in that contest, as he got the chance to kick the Titans' only field goal of the game for a career-long 50 yards. He was two for two in extra points as well.