Titans get an Easy Win over Struggling Colts
On Sunday the Tennessee Titans faced the Indianapolis Colts in another divisional game for each team. The Titans were looking to get their first win in the division, and the Colts were searching for their very first win of the season. Expectations going into the game for Titans fans were high. The Titans really needed to put on a good performance to get some momentum going, especially after how they have played in the last two games. In the Titans’ last two games they have allowed more than 40 points in each and produced very little offense. So needless to say, the home game against the Colts came at a perfect time.
This was a chance to build some confidence going into the second half of the season. Fortunately for Titans’ fans, the game went pretty much as expected with the Titans winning easily. The special teams played a big part scoring the first touchdown on a blocked punt recovered by Jason McCourty in the end zone. Also, the defense performed well against a Peyton-less offense coming up with two picks and two sacks on the day.
Many fans were hoping that this would be the game that CJ and the O-line would finally have a huge game to get the ground game going in the right direction. But no, it was the same performance fans have seen all season with CJ not doing much at all, and Ringer being the only back to make any sort of impact. The Titans don’t seem to know how to fix the problem and the situation is obviously not getting any better. Luckily for the Titans, Nate Washington played a big time role in this game scoring two touchdowns, one rare touchdown for Nate on the ground just before half, and then with just over five minutes to go in the fourth Hasselbeck found Washington on 14 yard pass in the end zone to put the game out of reach. With the win, the Titans move to 4-3 on the season and are now looking ahead to take on the surprisingly 5-2 Bengals team, in a late afternoon game next Sunday at LP Field. But, even with the Titans coming out on top 27-10, the same questions about the lack of running game still remains the main topic of discussion.
Five Ways the Titans can Improve the Ground Game:
1. More Deep Threats: If the Titans intend on getting the run game going, they will have to pose a real threat through the air. So far Hasselbeck has been pretty solid, but with no Kenny Britt the offense needs everyone to step up and make big plays. We know Nate Washington is capable of making big plays for the offense, but the other receivers, like Williams, Avery and Hawkins, will need to come through big when their number is called, especially down the field with a chance to make a big play.
2. Get the Tight Ends more Involved: The Titans must utilize their tight ends more, and get back to the way they used Frank Wycheck, one of the greatest tight ends in Titans’ history. Jared Cook and Craig Stevens are both very talented and smart players, who have the potential to be great tight ends. If the Titans want a more balanced offense, these two must play a bigger role in the passing game. Once Craig Stevens is healthy again and back on the field fans should expect more big plays from the tight end position.
3. Two-Back Set: Every game this season fans have been waiting for that one huge play from Chris Johnson to get this run game going. To the disappointment of the fans and the team, this big play has yet to happen. It doesn’t matter what down it is, but when Chris Johnson is in the backfield, the defense will do everything it can to shut down the run. When CJ is not in the game the defense has to play more of a guessing game, which is what has allowed Javon Ringer to have more success per carry. Both backs do a pretty good job of blocking so why not try and implement more two-back sets to keep the defense on it’s toes. There really isn’t a good reason not to try it because obviously nothing else is working with much success.
4. O-Line gets in Sync: All season long the biggest topic of debate is what is wrong with the once explosive Titans ground game. Is it the offensive line or is it Chris Johnson? Many critics and members of the media have put the majority of the blame on Chris Johnson. If anyone else has been paying attention though, in order for CJ to run, he must have solid blocking up front. There has been anything but solid blocking up front. The O-line tends to lack the nastiness that is required to block for a back that defenses specifically key in on to shut down. Instead, it seems as if the line is just going through the motions, and at the same time getting dominated. The Titans know what kind of weapon they have in their own backfield, but guess what, so does the rest of the league. Therefore, the O-line needs to bring more of a swagger and attitude in order to dominate the opposing defensive line, which will open the holes for CJ to bust loose.
5. More Jamie Harper: The Titans have to be contemplating giving Harper, the biggest back on the team, more playing time. Harper had a very impressive preseason and caught the attention of a lot of fans. Right now the majority of Harper’s play is on special teams, but he does play a very limited role in the run game. Harper is a big solid back who is capable of running through tacklers to get that extra couple of yards. Although he is a big back, Harper has been able to make defenders miss in open space, allowing him to make a big play. Since the Titans’ run game ranks last in the NFL, there is no reason why Harper should not get more touches just to see what he can do to try and spark the dormant run game of the Titans. It’s worth a shot, because at this point the Titans’ ground game could not get much worse.
Photo by Joel West