We're fortunate that we go from whatever that was on Monday to a game right away on Saturday night. And it'll be the game we see the starters play in the longest. My thoughts on the Titans after the jump, but first, the Giants (how'd THAT work out - Giants, Titans...)...
I sat here for about twenty minutes trying to come up with some "It wasn't as bad as you think," but yes, it was as bad as you think. Briggs was out, but Briggs alone doesn't make this thirty points closer - there was no line pressure outside of Peppers, special teams (especially kick coverage) wasn't good, the backup linebackers looked just a bit in over their heads, and Roy Williams is playing like he's already got his spot wrapped up. Three good things to take away are that our offensive line at least is capable of allowing one sack in a game, Knox went up for a ball, and at least we weren't injured out there. Let's just
hit the jump cross the Rubicon and thankfully put this game behind us...
What'd They Do Last Year: 6-10, tied for third in the AFC South - which is a nice way of saying last in the division. Despite the losing record, scored more points than they allowed.
When Last We Met: The Titans beat the Bears in week 10 of the 2008 season 21-14, pushing their record to 9-0. Rex Grossman got the start, throwing for a touchdown and running for another, but managed 173 yards and an interception. Ageless... well, we'll stop at ageless... Kerry Collins threw 41 times, completing 30 for 289 yards and two scores. Chris Johnson was held to 8 yards on 14 carries; LenDale White ran in a touchdown and 14 yards on 10 carries.
Hmm... I'm having trouble thinking of the guy that makes this offense run. Some running back, 316 attempts, 1364 rushes, 11 TDs... Oh yeah, Chris Johnson! And as of this writing, he's still holding out. Backup running back Javon Ringer missed the last preseason game, but could be back. And leading receiver Kenny Britt could be suspended; he met with Goodell yesterday and as of this typing, no ruling has been made.
Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer was formerly the head coach of the expansion Cleveland Browns and the UFL's Hartford Colonels, and won a Super Bowl ring as the quarterbacks coach of the New York Giants. And he's got two new quarterbacks on the roster in free agent Matt Hasselbeck and first round pick Jake Locker. The other new draft weapons are RB Jamie Harper, taken with a fourth-round compensatory selection, and sixth round OT Byron Stingily.
Jerry Gray is the new coordinator on new Head Coach Mike Munchak's new staff (sensing a trend?), and was signed to be the defensive backs coach at Texas on January 17th of this year (and joining the Titans about a month later). He gets the task of turning around the league's 26th ranked defense in yards allowed - 32nd in pass attempts allowed, 29th in passing yards, 26th in rushing attempts and 20th in rushing yards. Lots of plays run against them for lots of yards - they were 7th in the NFL in yards per rush attempt and 15th in net yards per passing attempt, and they gave up 356 first downs last year, or about 22 per game, last in the league. All that and still 15th in points allowed. But I ramble. Gray knows the 4-3 and a bit of 3-4, but will be flexible with the players he has.
Defense was a key focus in the Titans' draft - LBs Akeem Ayers and Colin McCarthy in the second and fourth rounds, respectively; DLs Jurrell Casey, Karl Klug and Zack Clayton in the 3rd, 5th and 7th, and defensive back Tommie Campbell with their 7th round compensatory selection. Jason Babin had 12.5 sacks last year; he's gone. Tackle leader Stephen Tulloch is gone, up to Detroit.
Kenny Britt was held out last week against the Rams with a hamstring. Sen'Derrick Marks had shoulder surgery in March and will not play until after this game. Hasselbeck was rolled into, but walked off and is fine. Javon Ringer missed with a hamstring.
Injuries for the Bears, Briggs missed Monday with his knee injury, as did Anthony Adams (calf), Corey Wootton (knee surgery) and Zack Bowman (head). Harvey Unga missed for personal reasons. Also injured was Major Wright (dignity), who will play on Saturday.
If the Bears do this...
The Titans are playing Ayers and Klug both on the starting lineup; don't be afraid to test them out. Sack leader Jason Babin? Gone. Tackle leader Tulloch? Gone. Dave Ball had seven sacks last year, but according to the Titans depth chart is backing up Jason Jones. Watch Bell when he's in, but aside from that, the Bears should be trying to stretch the defense.
If the Titans do this...
Chris Johnson is holding out. Matt Hasselbeck is on a new team for the first time since leaving Green Bay for Seattle. Britt was unavailable against the Rams with a sore hamstring. Jake Locker isn't lighting up the world, but has had one good game and one clunker. The offense is sputtering right now, but Hasselbeck and Locker still have Nate Washington and Justin Gage to throw to. If Chris Johnson ends his holdout, it'll add their best player, if a little rusty. Even without Johnson, the Titans ran for 198 yards against the Rams. The Bears can't let the Titans run all over them. The difference is, the Titans are bringing a little more balance in the offense, even if still leaning towards the run.
If Johnson and Britt both are still out, an offense that struggled last year and has 19 points in the preseason should be easier to manage. But the Bears just got abused by Giants running backs. The front seven will have to be strong. This will be the most the starters play all preseason, let's hope it looks good.