Monday Morning QB: Titans @ Bucs Grades
Phil Luckett
Oct 15, 2007

The Titans sputtered offensively and gave up too many big plays defensively in a 13-10 loss to the Buccaneers yesterday.

For the second consecutive week, the Titans made mistakes that came back to bite them. Among them was a floating deep pass by Vince Young to Roydell Williams which was intercepted by Phillip Buchanon. Another was a botched handoff to Chris Brown which killed another promising drive. Sprinkle a few penalties into the mix which put the Titans offense in a bad position against a solid Buccaneer defense and you have the recipe for a loss.

Defensively, the Titans were outstanding stopping a third-string RB but allowed Jeff Garcia, who at 37 looked more mobile than Young, to pass for 274 yards including two bombs and a 28-yard gain on third-and-10 with only 1:05 remaining.

One play yesterday summed up the day. On a third-and-four play, Young scrambled to the right with only LenDale White between himself and a first down. "I tried to get in front of Vince to make a block for him,'' White said. "Vince was trying to make a play and I ran into Vince and tackled Vince.'' Rookie Gaines Adams was credited with the sack because they don't credit teammates for them.

Let's face a couple of facts. No doubt the Titans are much improved. But this team doesn't have the talent to overcome the multiple errors we've seen the last two weeks. Making two turnovers and giving up two deep passes will cost you the game against most teams in the NFL. If the Titans want to push for a playoff spot, they have to find a way to stop being their own worst enemy.

Let's look at the 13-10 loss to the Buccaneers:


Kerry Collins was 10-for20 for 125 yards and a 69.8 passer rating Vince Young was 11-for-14 for 120 yards, 1 INT and a 72.6 passer rating. He gained six yards on three carries.

Before leaving the game with a quad strain injury, Young was having a decent game with the exception of the poorly underthrown pass which was picked off. Though many have been critical of the decision to make the pass, Williams appeared open and had a one-on-one matchup against Buchanan. An accurate pass would have likely resulted in a TD.

Collins was lucky enough to have a couple of INTs overturned on review but also hit some clutch third-down passes.

Grade: C

Running Back/Fullback

LenDale White had 64 yards on 25 carries and a TD. He also had another nine yards on two receptions. Chris Brown had five carries for 26 yards.

The RBs produced another 2.9 yards per carry average game which kept the Titans in too many third-and-long situations. White was a beast around the goal line but continues to look slow to the hole. Brown looked to be effective up to the point he went down with an ankle sprain.

Credit White for a nice tackle which created a fumble and saved another turnover for the Titans.

Grade: D

Wide Receiver

Eric Moulds led receivers with six catches for 49 yards. Roydell Williams had five receptions for 44 yards. Justin Gage has four catches for 82 yards.

Moulds is becoming a reliable threat in the short passing game. Gage had a nice 42-yard reception along with a few other nice catches and is pushing for more playing time. Though this unit combined for 175 yards of offense without #1 Brandon Jones available, it doesn't appear the Titans have anyone who can do much after the catch to gain additional yardage.

Grade: C

Tight End

Bo Scaife had three catches for 45 yards. Ben Hartsock had one catch for 16 yards.
Scaife did a nice job with his opportunities but also fumbled a reception and had a costly false start on a third-and-short. Ben Troupe was once again a non-factor in the Titans offense.

Grade: C-

Offensive Line

This unit doesn't appear to be getting a push in the middle consistently anymore. White was often hit in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage though they did a nice job in the red zone. The Jacob Bell false starts need to go. They also did a decent job giving Collins time late in third down situations.

Grade: C-

Defensive Line
Albert Haynesworth had four tackles. Tony Brown was credited with three stops and a QB hurry. Kyle Vanden Bosch had two tackles and two QB hurries. Antwan Odom had two QB hurries and a pass defensed. Travis LaBoy had one QB hurry.

The DL had another solid effort against the run limiting the Bucs running game to 30 total yards. Though they were unable to sack Garcia, they were often in his face and disruptive. Unfortunitely, they were unable to get much pressure on him in their final drive towards a winning FG.

Grade: A-

David Thornton led the Titans with six tackles. Keith Bulluck had four stops. Ryan Fowler has two tackles.

The Titans D was solid against the run but didn't do enough to break up the Bucs short passing game -- especially on the final drive to the winning FG.

Grade: B-

Nick Harper had four tackles. Courtland Finnegan had three stops and one pass defensed. Chris Hope has three stops and Calvin Lowry had two. Vincent Fuller also had two tackles.

Harper and Lowry were burned twice on plays which was enough to win the game for the Bucs. Remove the big 69-yard bomb and Garcia is held to barely 200 yards of passing and we're likely singing the praises of the secondary today.

Grade: C-

Special Teams
Rob Bironas nailed a big 48-yard FG. Craig Hentrich put two of his five punts inside the Bucs 20. Chris Davis averaged 16 yards on his punt return opportunities. Michael Griffin averaged 20 yards per kickoff return.

Special teams rebounded from a horrible game last week but did little to impact the game either way. Penalties by Donnie Nickey and Stephen Tulloch hurt the Titans when field position was key.

Grade: C+

With a solid defense, the Titans appear to be going pretty vanilla with the offense at times -- especially on first down where they appeared hellbent to run the football. OC Norm Chow had to deal with the challenge of Collins coming in for Young and the loss of Brown but the Titans lack of speed a RB and WR appears to be forcing too conservative an approach which can't overcome mistakes. The Titans are making too many errors to play a style of offense which requires errorless football.

DC Jim Schwartz had the defense playing well on the most part but didn't produce many big plays or have an answer on the final drive.

Jeff Fisher appears to want to move back to the days of grinding out the ground game and controlling the clock. This is all well and good if he had the talent at RB to make it work. But what appears to happen too often is second or third-and-long which puts pressure on Young to make a play. In the last two games, Young hasn't made enough of them.

Grade: C

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