Before the season started, I took some heat in the comments section of my predictions article about how I thought the Titans would be little better than a dumpster fire this season. With the way the season started, it appeared I could be right. Other than a game that should have gotten both defensive coordinators fired against the Detroit Lions, the Titans could have started the year 0-5. But a big win against the Steelers seemed to turn around their fortunes and give the rebuilding Titans some life.
3-5 at the halfway point of the 2012 season is already better than I predicted them being at this point and while there are still a multitude of problems, there have been signs of encouragement as well. I’m going to break down both the good, bad and the ugly of the Titans through their first 8 games.
This one has been all over the place through the first half of the season in Tennessee. With the Jekyll and Hyde play of running back Chris Johnson, the rushing attack has been a question mark all year. Other than a garbage time performance in Houston in which they conceded the rush with a comfortable lead, Johnson totaled just 69 yards total in 4 of his first 5 games.
This had everyone wondering if it was time for the Titans to eat a lot of cash and simply release or even bench the former all-pro. But in the last three weeks, he seems to have gotten some of his mojo back. In those games, he has totaled 385 yards rushing a a pair of touchdowns. Not coincidentally, the Titans won two of them and had a chance to win the third against the Colts, but couldn’t make a stop late. So does this mean CJ2k is back? Not likely, but I’ll give the coaches some credit for trying to figure out a way to get him going.
On the other hand, the injury of starting quarterback Jake Locker has really stunted the growth of what the Titans hoped to achieve in a rebuilding year. Matt Hasselbeck has filled in about as admirably as one could have hoped, but Locker is missing the valuable time and experience he needs to focus on the future in Tennessee. The results have been a middle of the road NFL offense that is scoring 20 points per game; not near enough to make up for their porous defense.
With the Titans defense, here lies the biggest black eye for the 2012 Titans. Overall, they are ranked the 4th worst in the league by allowing 282 yards per contest. They’re also 2nd worst in the league at points allowed per game at a staggering 32 each week.
We knew this defense would be a serious work in progress that simply signing Kamerion Wimbley wasn’t going to fix. Their pass rush has been average, at best, with 11 quarterback sacks and they’re minus three overall in the turnover battle. No consistent pass rush, coupled with poor linebacker play has exposed the Titans weak secondary.
You can always tell how poor a defense is against the rush when you see statistics like Safeties Michael Griffin and Jordan Babineaux, as well as cornerback Alterraun Verner leading the team in tackles. Other than Akeem Ayers, the Titans linebacking unit can’t tackle, can’t cover and just flat out can’t seem to make a big play on third down to get the defense off the field.
Even though I’m still against the firing of Titans legend Jeff Fisher, to argue that Mike Munchak came into a favorable situation would be a huge stretch. He knew he’d have to take a full year or three to get this team back to a competitive nature in the AFC South. But thankfully for him, outside of the Texans, the rest of the division is rebuilding, too.
I have no idea how long the leash is going to be for Munchak and trying to predict what goes on inside team owner Bud Adams’ head is like trying to solve the national debt. But until we can get a consistent look at Jake Locker, this team is still a big question mark at which direction they’re headed for the immediate future.
Filed under: Tennessee Titans