Monday Morning QB: First Half Grades
By Phil Luckett
Posted November 6th, 2006
During the 37-7 thumping by the Jaguars yesterday, a few things became obvious to me.
Vince isn't close. He is slow making reads. He stares down receivers.
He's horribly inaccurate for stretches during the game. Though we
should expect a few performances like this as Young matures, I don't
buy that such games won't shake his confidence if things don't get
better soon. And with the tough Ravens D coming to town next week, I
don't things get better anytime soon.
2. The Titans run
defense is as bad as any I've ever witnessed. Ever. With the score
34-0, the Jaguars were not disguising anything offensively. Yet the
Titans still gave up 79 more rushing yards for a 6.1 yards per carry
average. If some of you thought rookie Stephen Tulloch would be an
upgrade, guess what?
3. The rain wasn't the only thing dropping
in Jacksonville. Too many of the few balls which actually hit the hands
of a Titans receiver ended up on the Alltel Stadium turf. I lost count
at six drops. The Titans simply don't have a consistent receiver on the
roster and I don't have much faith David Givens' eventual return
4. The Titans ground game went underground.
Travis Henry and the re-vamped OL have been getting a lot of praise
lately for the resurrection of the Titans running game. Against a
quality defense, the truth come out as a Henderson-less Jags D held the
Titans running game to a 2.83 average per carry the first half when
Chow had to take pressure off Young by establishing the ground game.
I could go on but enough of that.
of grading the 37-7 loss which would be a string of Fs except for the
boost Craig Hentrich gave special teams taking a hit to give the Titans
their only first quarter first down and booting a 73-yard punt, I
decided to look at the first half of the season.
decision to bring in Kerry Collins 10 days before the season started to
replace Billy Volek remains a head-scratcher. He started the Titans out
ugly and it hasn't gotten much better since. Young was thrown in much
too early and probably should still be learning as he holds a clipboard
on the sidelines or during "Vince packages" as a backup to Volek.
Despite the overall typical rookie play by Young, he has flashed
potential when the running game or defense has taken the pressure off
him. The question is when his play will become more consistent.
Combined, Titans QBs have a 49.1 passer rating and a 43.6 completion percentage.
a rough 0-5 start, Henry returned to form and gave the Titans the most
production on the ground they've had for some time. But the running
game hasn't shown it can get it done against decent defenses. LenDale
White shows promise but the coaching staff isn't giving him much work.
Chris Brown has been a total non-factor and should have been traded
when he had a little value. Ahmad Hill has been hampered with injuries
but productive when the Titans have been successful with the run.
Though the first half of the season, Titans RBs/FB have combined for a 3.94 yards per carry average.
a unit, there isn't much to be excited about here. Free agent
acquisition David Givens has been hurt much of the season. Drew Bennett
has been productive at times but inconsistent. Bobby Wade hasn't lived
up to the hype surrounding him before the season. Brandon Jones
surprised most by returning from his ACL and looks to have most
potential of any WR on the roster. Roydell Williams and Courtney Roby
have been ineffective on the most part and must improve.
fairness to this group, they've not had as many opportunities with two
inaccurate QBs throwing them the ball so far this season. But they've
also had a number of drops which must be eliminated.
the Titans leading WR, Bennett, is on pace for 758 total receiving
yards which is only 20 yards more than his total from last season when
he started in only 10 games.
Kinney's knee surgery ended his season and possibly his career. Ben
Troupe has been a huge disappointment with only 11 catches and 1 TD
through 8 games. Bo Scaife has been Young's go to guy so far with 18
receptions for 249 yards.
Last season, Titans TEs combined for 1346 receiving yards. At this pace, the TEs will end this season combing for 776 yards.
OL wasn't able to open up much for the running game early in the season
but appeared to improve once Zach Piller went down and Jacob Bell was
moved inside with David Stewart replacing him at RT. Benji Olson has
been dinged up much of the first half of the season. Keven Mawae has
been a good addition to the unit. Though the unit has been inconsistent
at times, they are limiting the penalties which haunted them in
September. With Piller on IR and Daniel Loper out with a ruptured spleen, this unit may the thin for the second half of the season.
Titans are next to last in the league against the run and extremely
inconsistent rushing the passer. Kyle Vanden Bosch remains the sack
leader but his production is down. Albert Haynesworth embarrassed
himself, the team and the league by stomping on the face of an
opponent. Randy Starks, who had his own off-the-field issues, hasn't
made the expected gains many expected after a promising rookie season.
Travis LaBoy has 2.5 sacks this season but is a liability in the run
game. Antwan Odom has been hurt most of the season and is doubtful to
be a factor in the second half. After Rien Long went down in training
camp, Robaire Smith has been a solid replacement when healthy. Tony
Brown has done a decent job replacing Haynesworth during his
KVB has only 4 sacks so far this season. At this point last year, he had 7.5.
Bulluck leads the team in tackles and is having another outstanding
season. David Thornton, up to his injury last week, was an upgrade to
Peter Sirmon with 53 tackles in seven games. Sirmon, though having 45
tackles, has lost a lot of speed and doesn't appear to be able to shed
blocks well enough to be a force in the run game. Rookie Stephen
Tulloch has been a force on special teams but doesn't appear to be
ready yet to replace Sirmon.
Bulluck has 73 tackles so far this season and is on pace for 146 which
would only be 6 tackles fewer than his career best of 152 in 2004.
Titans secondary continues to give opposing QB career days. Reynaldo
Hill appears to have taken a huge step backwards from his rookie season
though has played better lately. Pacman Jones is beginning to live up
to his talents by limiting some of the game's better WRs. But his play
on the field continues to be overshadowed by his actions off it. Chris
Hope has been the most pleasant surprise of the free agents brought in
this offseason. Lamont Thompson has been a liability so far this season
and has been called out by the coaching staff more than once. However,
Vincent Fuller or rookie Calvin Lowry apparently have not pushed enough
to get a chance to upgrade the position. Cortland Finnegan started
strong at the nickel but has dropped off as of late.
Hope's 3 interceptions leads the team and ties the most a Titans player had all of the 2005 season.
Bironas and Craig Hentrich have had quality first halves. Hentrich's back must be doing well because he has already punted 51 times this season. Bobby Wade is
12th in the league in kickoff returns. Pacman Jones is 15th in punt
return duties but has a TD and should have a second if not for a block
in the back penalty. Casey Cramer blocked a punt for a safety against
Hentrich has the second-longest punt of the season when he has a 73-yard boomer against the Jags.
At the halfway point, we already have the questionable signing of Collins, a couple of Pacman incidents, domestic disputes concerning Rob Reynolds and Starks and the head stomping by Haynesworth. Though it is difficult to place a lot of blame on Jeff Fisher for this, it's clear his "no-tolerance policy" came too little too late. It also appears his "on notice" talk wasn't serious because the same players appear to be making the same errors each week.
After some big blowouts early, it appeared the Colts game put the team back on track. Even in winning ugly against the Texans, the Titans were playing with heart and Fisher appeared to have the team back under his control. The team took a huge step back in Jacksonville.
Much of the second half will be determined with how Chow handles Young and find ways to take the pressure off him by keeping the ground game effective. On the other side of the ball, Schwartz has to simply find some ways to slow the run and get some pressure on opposing QBs. None of the above appears doable at this point.
If the Titans double their win total of the first half and end at 4-12, I don't see any way Fisher survives nor should he.