Vince Young Can't Resuscitate the Titans, Tennessee Looking for Season's Killer
Someone charge the paddles, stat. The Titans' organization appears dead and in severe need of resuscitation.
But at least we have one question answered. Maybe.
Down 31-9 at the end of the fourth quarter, Vince Young finally entered the huddle for the Tennessee Titans and did very little.
He handed off a few times, ran for a first down, and almost threw two picks in three failed passing attempts as the Tennessee Titans ran their record to 0-5, effectively ending any hopes they may have harbored of making the post-season this year.
No word yet on whether this move will be permanent. But if the Titans go 0-6—or rather, when—against New England next week, it may as well be.
For all you Vince Young Kool-Aid drinkers out there, I don't think I am being overly harsh and judgmental about your savior. This game may not be any indication of his ability to make this team competitive, but next week, or whenever he plays again, will tell the tale.
I've seen this storyline before, but I'm going to save that for another rant later: just too much to put in a recap of an awful game.
So enough about poor Vince; he's just trying to make a buck, right? He is as much as canonized in Texas, so it is understandable that he would be a little confused, even ticked off, by the treatment he has received since throwing what amounted to a preschool tantrum last year and getting his butt benched.
What is really ailing the Titans, now that it appears they might (or might not) have figured out their quarterback problem?
It's not the turnovers, although Alge Crumpler may need extra protection around town for a while. He keeps dropping balls and he is going to be persona non grata in Nashville.
It's not the interceptions, although Collins is minus-one on touchdowns vs. interceptions this year (but if you count the one he ran in, and I do, he is dead even).
It's not the running game, although Dash sure could use the Smash from last year. Maybe LenDale White should pack the weight back on.
Let's look at the numbers again, shall we? I realize we have been over this before, but maybe, just maybe, if we go over it again, I can get you to see what I see.
Of course, that usually doesn't work with my sometimes intractable teen-agers, either, but hey, you can't fault a guy for trying.
Offensively, the Titans ranked 21st overall last year, with 176.2 ypg through the air and 137.4 ypg on the ground, putting them 27th and 7th respectively.
This year they are ranked 10th overall, with 221.5 ypg through the air and 137 ypg on the ground, ranking them 16th and 6th respectively.
I don't know what math everyone else is using, but all of those numbers—with the exception of .4 yards rushing, so I'm not gonna split hairs—look like improvements over last year.
What about points, you say? Well, let's look at those too.
Last year, the Titans averaged 23.4 points per game for the entire season. Through the first five weeks they averaged 23 points per game, this year a mere 16.8. So that must be the problem, right? Collins and Co. can't punch it into the end zone!
Not so fast, partner.
Let's look a little deeper. While the Titans obviously scored more points last year than this year, there is a glaring omission in the comparison: the points differential.
Last year the Titans scored 115 points through their first five games while holding their opponents to 56. That's a positive differential of 59 points.
The Titans have scored 84 points, while their opponents have scored—are you ready for this?—139.
I'll let that sink in for a minute.
Okay, have you caught your breath yet? Yes, that is a negative differential of 55 points, almost the exact number of points that they held opponents to last year.
Even more appalling, they have given up 83 more points this year than last year, almost the exact number of points they have scored themselves this year.
It's almost eerie how it is working out, ain't it?
This is not, I repeat, NOT a Kerry Collins problem. True, he has had receivers drop more passes than nearly every other quarterback in the league this year.
In fact, after the game against Indy, he probably leads all quarterbacks in the "receivers dropping perfect passes" department.
This is not a Chris Johnson problem. Young Mr. Johnson is showing no signs of a sophomore slump, even having such a stellar game against the Texans that his shoes from the game have been enshrined in Canton.
This is not a Mike Heimerdinger problem. Coach Dinger is the same guy who ran the offense during the Titans miracle season in 1999; he is the same guy who ran the offense last year when the Titans went 13-3 (only to leave the playoffs early partly due to an Alge Crumpler fumble—ahem—and unflappable Baltimore quarterback in Joe Flacco).
You know where this is going. You all are smart enough to see it, but you are so enamored with the idea of Vince Young saving this organization you refuse to allow yourselves to admit it.
This is a defense problem.
Remember those numbers we went over a few paragraphs ago? Well, let me add some more for good measure.
In 2008, the Titans numbers were stellar: 293 yards per game overall, seventh in the NFL in total defense, 93.5 yards on the ground and 199.8 yards through the air per game. In 16 games last year they gave up 300+ yards passing only twice—once to Aaron Rodgers and once to Ben Roethlisberger—both in games that they won.
This year, four of the five quarterbacks they have faced have gone for over 300 yards.
Do I have to remind you of their record?
Yes, I know they had two rookie cornerbacks. They also had two veteran cornerbacks and two veteran safeties through the first three games this year.
Again, do I need to remind you of their record?
Last year, the Titans were ranked seventh overall on defense. This year they are a dismal 22nd, ranked just behind the Detroit Lions for yards given up per game.
The Lions have a ready excuse; they are the Detroit Lions, and lost all their games last year. No one expected them to do anything this year, so everything is a bonus.
Tennessee led the NFL with a record of 13-3, and should have gone to the AFC Championship, possibly the Super Bowl, had it not been for a terrible ball-handling game against Baltimore.
They have no excuse.
But, somewhat like my teen-agers, they are doing it anyways. They know and admit that it shouldn't be happening, but they have no more answers than those asking the questions.
They put forth effort occasionally, and show flashes of their old selves every now and then, just as they did this week against Indianapolis.
But eventually something else takes their attention, they stop giving 100 percent, and the end result is a big fat F.
Vince Young is not the answer, although this might be the perfect time to put him in and see just how well he has learned to deal with adversity, because there is a season full of it ahead.
Even Coach Fisher knows this is all wrong. In the post-game interviews, he sounded more tired than he ever has. The fact that this season is obviously getting to him speaks volumes.
Is there any chance the Titans can lure Jim Schwartz back next year?
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