Tennessee Titans: What We Learned from Victory over Broncos
It was sloppy, but a win is a win. The Titans were without Kenny Britt from the get-go, as he left the field with an injury early on. However, the Titans still managed to win the game against the visiting Broncos by a final score of 17-14.
So what does a win against Denver tell us about Tennessee's team? Here are five things we learned:
1. The Titans Are Undisciplined
The Titans had 11 penalties called against them for over 100 yards. That is unforgivable.
If Tennessee had been playing a better team than Denver, they would have lost. To give you an idea of how much that changes the game, the Broncos had 231 yards of total offense and got points on two drives that were extended by penalties.
That means both times that the Broncos scored, that drive could have ended much earlier if the Titans were more disciplined.
A few offensive penalties early on offense also hurt the Titans, stopping or stalling what was, for the most part, a very good game from the passing parts of the team.
The Titans had a lot of penalties in Week 1 against the Jaguars, but they improved and played like a cohesive, disciplined unit against the Ravens. This week, they reverted. That has to change if they want to have a good season.
2. When Hasselbeck Can Stay on His Feet, He Delivers
Again, the Titans blocked well for Matt Hasselbeck, giving up only two sacks. Hasselbeck completed 27-of-36 passes for 311 yards and two touchdowns.
He would have had an even better game, but his traditional No. 1 target, Kenny Britt, came out of the game with an injury early on. There were also a few dropped passes and one completion that was ruled an incomplete despite Mike Munchak's challenge.
Nate Washington filled Britt's usual role very well. Washington caught eight balls for 92 yards and a touchdown. He was targeted nine times, meaning he caught eight of the nine passes thrown to him.
If the offensive line can keep the hits on Hasselbeck minimal, then the Titans will have a dangerous pass attack this season.
3. The Cornerback Contest Is Still on
Just when I think Alterraun Verner has proven himself to be the better cornerback, McCourtey comes through with a great game.
McCourty had one interception, one pass deflection and six tackles; five of those tackles were solo and some of them came at critical moments. The only player on the team to get more tackles than McCourty was strong safety Jordan Babineaux.
Verner still had a pretty good game, racking up three tackles (two solo) and a pass deflection, but that falls significantly short of how well McCourty played.
Neither player as good as Cortland Finnegan, but both are looking like viable options at the second cornerback slot.
4. Chris Johnson Is the 3rd Best Running Back on the Team
Is this a premature judgment against CJ2K? No.
Javon Ringer had a bad game, ending up with negative yardage, but a large part of that came when Tennessee was running the clock down at the end of the game and the defense knew to attack Ringer.
Chris Johnson saw 13 touches, which he ran for 21 yards total. That's an average of 1.6 yards per rush. When you hold out until the team pays you $50 million, that just doesn't cut it.
Ringer had a good game considering his limited touches last week against the Ravens and Jamie Harper, the rookie from Clemson, who was very good in the preseason. At this point, both of them look better than Chris Johnson, who has done nothing of note in any of the three games.
As of the end of his third game, Chris Johnson has rushed for 77 yards in 33 attempts. His longest run was 11 yards. Ringer's longest was 12 yards, and he's only had five attempts.
For the Titans' sake, I hope they wrote some kind of protective provisions into CJ2K's new contract, or they'll be paying Johnson nearly a million dollars a yard.
5. There's Still a Long Way to Go
Hasselbeck was great and he did a great job of spreading out receptions among the receivers with Kenny Britt out. Nate Washington also did a very good job of stepping up and filling in that No. 1 receiver spot.
They were the only thing about the game against the Broncos that was exceptional, though.
The defense had some impressive goal-line stands, but they also gave up a lot of big plays in ways that they really shouldn't. Brandon Lloyd should never be left open beyond the first-down marker. Ever.
There was also the penalty problem.
The running game simply was not there.That's all there is to be said about that.
The Titans came away with a win and will start the season 2-1, but they've got a lot of problems that need solving by the time that the Titans travel to play the Browns next week.
There are reasons for optimism, but the Titans have a long way to go.