Titans’ Sixer: Thumbs down for VY
The Titans’ “Sixer,” a six-pack of things I believe I learned about the team, after another ugly loss, the Titans’ third in a row. Herewith “the Sixer” on the 19-16 stinker against the Redskins at LP Field:
1. Whither Vince Young. Is VY the future of the franchise at QB? If he does, in fact, have season-ending surgery on his right thumb, which Jeff Fisher said is a possibility, he will have appeared in just 53 games out of a possible 80 since coming here in 2006. Whether by injury or coach’s decision, that’s not a great track record. Meanwhile, he’s in a division where Peyton Manning has started 200-plus in a row, and even David Garrard has started 46 of the past 47. No one knows what the pain is like in a torn flexor in their throwing thumb unless they’ve had one. But everyone in the West stands at LP Field watched Young take snaps and make practice tosses on the sidelines after the injury. The appearance of being soft is an all-too-close cousin to actually being soft. Jeff Fisher said afterward that even if Young doesn’t have surgery he’s no longer the starting QB. Thus completes a precipitous fall from grace.
2. Thank God Dallas Clark is out for the year. The Titans still have two meetings with the Colts coming up, and the way they have covered opposing tight ends for the past few weeks Clark would have been checking off incentive bonuses left and right. You know Dolphins TE Anthony Fasano had a career-best 107 yards last week. On Sunday, Redskins TE Chris Cooley didn’t catch a ball through three quarters. But between the fourth quarter and overtime he riddled the Titans for seven catches for 91 yards. As much as anyone Cooley pushed Tennessee to its third consecutive loss.
3. The pass rush continues its downward spiral. Yes, the Titans registered three sacks Sunday, but two were more or less falldowns or slips by Donovan McNabb, especially Jason Babin’s first-quarter sack. McNabb simply got stepped on by one of his offensive linemen on that one. The Redskins lost two offensive linemen to injury during the game, and still the Titans managed only one legitimate sack of McNabb. The guy had a lot of time to throw, which also has been contributing to what tight ends have done to the Titans (see No. 2 above). McNabb attempted 50 passes, and to post only one legit sack is disappointing to say the least.
4. Is Randy Moss here to catch passes or not? The most interesting thing to watch during the game was how Young and Smith treated Moss. Young virtually ignored the Titans’ most recent acquisition; Smith immediately threw his first two passes to him. One almost was picked off because Moss stopped on a route; the other was a touchdown bomb that was called back for interference on Moss. Here’s my thing: If the corner is off 5-10 yards, just take the snap and throw it to him. It keeps him happy, gives him a chance to make a play, keeps the defense honest. Try it.
5. Marc Mariani is gold. The Titans deserve a lot of credit for plucking the rookie wide receiver out of Montana in the seventh round. Can you guess the only player in the league this season with a punt return and a kickoff return for a touchdown? Mariani. The Titans stunk in the return game last season. They were awful. This kid has made them as dangerous as just about any team in the league. His 87-yard punt return against the Redskins was the second-longest in franchise history, and his 98-yard kickoff return against the Broncos was the Titans’ first KO return for a TD in nine years. Interestingly, though, the Titans have lost both games in which Mariani had a return for a score. Hmmm. Mariani is silver?
6. The lack of discipline is disappointing. Babin is a great guy and he has been a huge acquisition, but his personal foul on a second-and-22 in overtime was a game-changing blunder. He’s way smarter than that. Then LB Will Witherspoon got called for a blow to the helmet of McNabb. Later on the same drive rookie CB Alterraun Verner got hit with an illegal contact foul. Three penalties for 35 yards and three automatic first downs on the Redskins’ final drive in overtime. That’s downright ugly.