Minnesota vs. Tennessee: Report Cards for Each Titans Unit
The Titans and Vikings sat all of their starters in each team's final preseason game. Even with both sides theoretically even, the Vikings were the superior team in every way, trouncing the Titans 19-3.
Again, there were defensive problems, which was the norm for the preseason. New to this game, however, were some hiccups on the offensive side of the ball, which kept the Titans from scoring until well into the fourth quarter.
Here are report card grades for each unit on the Titans from their performance against the Vikings.
With both Jake Locker and Charlie Whitehurst sitting out, Zach Mettenberger played almost the entire game.
Mettenberger was a mixed bag against Minnesota. For a while, he was throwing with great zip, placing the ball perfectly and showing great awareness in the pocket.
Then he started to get more pressure and ended up with three sacks and a fumble. There's also the fact that he never got the Titans into the end zone, even with all of the good throws.
In the end, Mettenberger had a pretty good stat line: 12-of-17 for 154 yards. However, against all backups, you would have expected him to do better.
Dominique Davis only made five throws and completed three. One of those completions just happened to be to a Minnesota player.
This is the one area where the Titans shone. Bishop Sankey looked better than ever against the Vikings, showing power, speed and quick cutting ability. He finished the night with seven carries and 43 rushing yards, along with one catch for an additional three yards.
However, it was Antonio Andrews who stole the show. Even without his longest run of the night (a 19-yarder that was negated by a penalty), Andrews had 13 carries for 78 yards and three receptions for 19 more yards.
He also looked good doing it. After a big hit from Antone Exum, Andrews shook off the tackle, while Exum stayed on the ground. The Titans will have a tough time making room for Andrews on the roster, but he's without a doubt one of the 53 best players on the team.
In fact, if you had only this game as a sample size, you'd think Andrews was the superior player.
Receivers and Tight Ends
The Titans are crowded at receiver, and with only the top three set in stone, this game was an opportunity for one of Marc Mariani, Michael Preston, Derek Hagan or Brian Robiskie to step up and separate himself from the pack.
None of them, however, had a particularly impressive game, and more than half of the total yards by receivers came from Justin Hunter and Taylor Thompson.
Hunter was the best receiver of the night, amassing 53 yards on only two receptions before exiting the game, but Thompson wasn't too much worse, catching two balls for 26 yards.
The "receiver" with the third-highest total was running back Antonio Andrews with 19.
So there were a couple of impressive plays, but beyond that, the group failed to stand out.
Pass protection seemed to be an issue again for the Titans offensive line. Eleventh overall pick Taylor Lewan lost more than one snap to Vikings defensive lineman Justin Trattou.
Mettenberger was also sacked three times and saw a lot of pressure that he escaped. Considering the Titans ran the ball as often as they threw it, that is a lot of sacks.
Run blocking, however, was much better, and the average number of yards per carry (over six) reflects that. Of course, much of that credit goes to Sankey and Andrews, but the offensive line certainly did their part.
The defensive line had a lot of problems early on. Karl Klug had a good effort with a couple of near sacks and one sack he didn't get credit for, along with a defended pass, but other than Klug, there wasn't much to discuss.
The bulk of the pressure against Teddy Bridgewater and Christian Ponder came not from the defensive line, but from the linebackers and defensive backs.
Marcus Dixon did get both sacks of the game, but one of those was really Klug's doing, and the other was a gang tackle.
Al Woods did a fair job at nose tackle with four solo tackles, but overall, the unit was forgettable.
Avery Williamson had a good game, leading linebackers and coming in second on the team in total tackles with eight. He had a reputation as a run-stuffer, but he also dropped back to cover his fair share of receivers as well.
There were mixed results in pass coverage, but for a fifth-round rookie, he had a strong showing and was always near the ball.
Akeem Ayers managed to get some pressure on Bridgewater early on and was next in total tackles with seven. He also had a tackle for loss, but he used to be a starter, so it's hard to be impressed by his performance.
Tackling could have been better, but the linebackers looked much more used to their roles in a 3-4 defense than in previous games.
Once again, the defensive backs were the highlight of the defense. Marqueston Huff, the fourth-round rookie corner, led the team in tackles with nine, and both Daimion Stafford and George Wilson looked very good at safety.
The Vikings had a lot more success running the ball than they did passing it, which reflects well on the defensive backs.
That said, Vikings receivers were given big cushions, and they made the most of them. Perhaps some of this can be blamed on the fact that the defensive backs were handling a lot of the run defense as well as the pass, but even so, coverage could have been tighter.
Tommie Campbell had a poor game. The corner who once competed with Alterraun Verner for a starting spot drew a few penalties, but he still gave up quite a few big passes.
To his credit, Campbell had two defended passes and a near interception, but there was a lot more bad than good to his game.
There wasn't much to grade on the Titans special teams. Marc Mariani was forced to take touchbacks on every kickoff but two. To his credit, Mariani made it 49 yards on those two carries, which is better than starting at the 20.
Kicking was a mixed bag. Maikon Bonani did all of the kicking for the Titans, and he did fairly well on kickoffs. Though there were only two kickoffs by the Titans, neither were returned.
Field goals were not as good. Bonani made a 29-yarder at the game's end, but missed an earlier one from a mere 32 yards.
Bonani may have won the competition between himself and Travis Coons, but that doesn't mean he's beaten what some available veterans can do.