Monday Morning QB: Jaguars @ Titans Grades
By Jeff Fuqua
Nov 2, 2009 - 7:59:47 AM
The Titans finally played a game like most of us thought they could.
With Tennessee not winning a game since last December and the monkey on their back growing weekly, the Titans finally pulled together their best effort of the season which was enough to post their first notch in the victory column. "We played smarter football today," said LB David Thornton. "We got turnovers on the defensive side of the ball and the offense did a great job of protecting the ball. Those were the differences."
Let's look at the Titans 30-13 win over the Jaguars and grade the team by position.
It wasn't so much what Vince Young did that helped the Titans win their first game. It was more about what he didn't do as in turnover the football or get sacked. He was only 15 of 18 for 125 yards but made some tough passes in traffic and a nice fade to Nate Washington for a TD. Young also used his legs to avoid the rush and pick up yardage when needed. He looked poised throughout the game, looked to have better mechanics and added a spark the offense had been missing.
Chris Johnson broke the single-game franchise record with 228 yards and two TDs. It was one of the most amazing performances I've ever witnessed. He also had 11 yards receiving. LenDale White was finally allowed to play in the role he was designed for and put together another 47 yards with a 3.6 yards per carry average.
Ahmard Hall had a number of key blocks in one of his better games of the season.
Bo Scaife led receivers with four catches and had the longest reception of the game of 18 yards. Alge Crumpler had two receptions of his own. Both Scaife and Crumpler made some key blocks which helped CJ with his record day.
Nate Washington had a TD. Justin Gage and Kenny Britt both made the most of their limited opportunities. They also made some key blocks on the long runs. Best of all, no drops.
When a RB sets a franchise rushing record, the OL gets its props. They also kept the Jags DL in check giving up no sacks. It was their most solid effort of the season.
This is a tough one to grade as this unit got a lot of pressure on David Garrard most of the day. Kyle Vanden Bosch recorded his first sack of the season. Jason Jones seemed to spend most of the afternoon in the Jaguars backfield. But the DL missed tackles on two plays which allowed Maurice Jones-Drew two huge carries for a score.
This was David Thornton's best game with seven tackles and forcing a fumble. Keith Bulluck added another five tackles as the LBs had a solid effort overall. Stephen Tulloch had a big sack but also missed a tackled on Jones-Drew which resulted in one of his two TDs.
With Cortland Finnegan and Vincent Fuller back from injury, the secondary had a big game holding Garrard to 139 passing yards and a 35.9 passer rating. Both Finnegan and Rod Hood had picks which has been a rare event so far this season. Michael Griffin forced a fumble but also couldn't manage to get Jones-Drew down on one of his big TD runs.
Rob Bironas went three-for-three with his FG opportunities and put two of his kickoffs too deep to bring out. Punter Brett Kern, signed during the bye week, did a great job putting three inside the 20. The kickoff coverage units allowed one return of 42 yards but did a good job overall limiting the big return. Besides returning a kickoff, Griffin blocked an extra point which is always a rarity.
When the team wins, everyone looks better including the coaching staff as the Titans played better fundamental football. No turnovers. Few penalties. OC Mike Heimerdinger called a good game by not asking Young to do too much. DC Chuck Cecil got better results from his front four and was aggressive with the blitz when necessary. Without owner Bud Adam's push, I doubt Jeff Fisher makes the move to Young but the team did come out inspired and played with a swagger we hadn't seen in a number of weeks. Time will tell whether this is the beginning of the Titans return to the team we knew in '08 or a fluke. One thing is for certain, Fisher can wear a Vince Young jersey THIS week and feel like a winner.
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