The Titans’ Sixer: The running game is MIA
After every Titans game I’ll post a six-pack of things I believe I learned about the team. Herewith “the Sixer” on the 26-20 home loss to the Broncos that dropped the Titans to 2-2:
2. The Broncos outcoached the Titans at halftime. Offensively the Broncos stopped trying to throw downfield as much and carved up the Titans using screen passes and shorter routes. Kyle Orton threw for 187 yards in the second half. “They realized they didn’t have time (to pass),” said DE Jason Babin, who had 1.5 sacks and six tackles. “We were getting after it. They had to get rid of it quick. It’s logical. It nullifies the rush.” On defense, the Broncos spied on Vince Young after leaving him uncovered on several play-action bootlegs in the first half. The result for the Titans was only 35 second-half passing yards vs. 138 in the first half.
3. The MVP unit remains the defensive line. It produced five sacks, 2.5 by Dave Ball, 1.5 by Jason Babin and one by Tony Brown. It held the Broncos to 19 rushing yards. It begs the question: Why don’t more teams rotate d-linemen with the frequency the Titans do? It seems like a simple idea; few teams make it work like assistant coach Jim Washburn does here.
4. The special teams were wobbly for the first time this season. Marc Mariani’s electrifying 98-yard kickoff return notwithstanding, the Titans allowed Broncos rookie Demaryius Thomas to average 36 yards on four kickoff returns, including a 65-yarder. And the muffed kickoff recovered by the Broncos with less than 2 minutes to play never should have happened. Mariani took the rap, but I’m not convinced it was his to take. Somebody has to fair catch that kickoff. That’s a monumental gaffe.
5. Officials have just about legislated hitting the quarterback completely out of football. There’s no way DT Sen’Derrick Marks should have been penalized for his first-half hit on Kyle Orton. If players can get fined for hits that are illegal, officials should get fined for blowing calls this badly.
6. Chuck Cecil is in fine shape for a 45-year-old guy, but he’s gonna be a whole lot lighter … in the wallet. Expect the NFL to levy a monster fine on the Titans’ defensive coordinator for his one-fingered salute to the officiating Sunday.