|Four Questions: Panthers @ Titans
Oct 31, 2007
Will the Titans offense be more effective scoring TDs in the red zone?
No. You're not experiencing deja vu. This question was one of last week's as well.
Red zone TDs remain scarce for the 5-2 Titans. Last week, we saw a catchable ball fly over the hands of Ben Troupe who had a cheerleader closer to him than anyone wearing a Raiders uni. Later in the game, two more drops resulted in Rob Bironas remaining one of the most popular fantasy league kickers in recent history.
The encouraging part is that the plays called were there and the Titans should have won the game by 12 points or more. But the reality remains the Titans haven't scored a TD with a red zone pass since New Orleans over a month ago.
The Titans currently are 32.1 percent in scoring TDs when they've gotten within 20 yards of the goal line. That places them 27th in the league. Credit Bironas as the Titans actually score 85.7% from the red zone. That ties the Titans for 15th in the league.
The Panthers rank 12th in the league in giving up red zone TDs at 43.5%. Last week, they allowed three TDs and one FG out of the four Colts red zone opportunities. But the Titans offense ain't the Colts. They have to find a way to get six more often.
Will LenDale White continue to play at a high level?
Most of us never thought we'd see what we saw last week with White busting off 20+ yard runs. He's now pulled his yards per carry average up to a respectable 3.7 despite facing defenses stacked in to stop him.
More importantly, he's healthy. Many of the questions surrounding him on his conditioning and durability will be forgotten if he can produce another 100-yard game against the Panthers.
Add to the mix the return of Chris Brown and the hope Chris Henry remains active and you have the potential for a dominating run combination that can carry the Titans far.
The Panthers rank 19th in the league against the run giving up 113 yards on average per game. The once stingy Carolina D is giving up a 3.9 yards per carry average which bodes well for White & Co on Sunday. Last week, they gave up a 4.1 yard average and 131 rushing yards to the Colts. Look for the Titans to try and better those numbers on Sunday.
Will Vince Young be able to return to form?
Last week, Young had a total of 42 passing yards and another 11 on the ground. Despite a game plan designed to run the football and a number of drops, the Titans can't afford such performances from Young against the better teams in the league and expect to win many games. To his credit, he wasn't anywhere close to 100% due to a quad strain suffered against the Bucs.
Young is having a head-scratcher of a season so far. Though it appeared he was much more comfortable passing the football in the first three games of the season, he's appeared tentative since the Saints win. He followed that performance with three INTs against the Falcons and another against the Bucs. Even more alarming is that his biggest game on the ground is only 53 yards. Teams have done a much better job containing him in the pocket but Young has also not appeared as confident with his running opportunities. Hopefully an extra week of healing will give him the explosiveness he needs to do more with his wheels.
On a positive note, it appears Brandon Jones will return to the lineup on Sunday after being out the past two weeks after knee surgery. Add to this the Panthers rank 23rd against the pass allowing 227.3 yards per game on average and this could be the Sunday Young returns to the form we saw earlier in the season. The once dominating defense of the Panthers have only four sacks and five INTs on the season. They are allowing a 59.8 percent completion rate. Expect to see the Titans in a more balanced offense though they will no doubt look to establish the run first.
Will the Titans continue to play to the level of their competition?
With the exception of the Saints game, the Titans appear to have a difficult time putting inferior teams away. They gave the Falcons five turnovers along with a handful of special teams blunders. They played solid defense for most of the Bucs game only to give up the easy TD, a couple of turnovers and the final drive for a score. The Texans meltdown has been widely discussed and dissected and it appeared last Sunday with the drops and final drive, the Titans were going to give one away despite a big day from White and a solid defensive performance for most of the game.
It's becoming obvious the Titans have little offensive big play potential beyond Young and he's not producing. Coach Jeff Fisher appears to be reverting to the successful formula that won him back-to-back 13-3 records by pounding the rock, keeping the passing game conservative and playing aggressive defense. It's hard to know whether the reluctance to take deeps shots is due to the offensive scheme or a lack of confidence in the Titans WRs and Young's accuracy. Regardless, the Titans would be in the playoffs if the season were to end today.
With the Titans winning four of their five games by an average of only four points and losing two by a combined five, I wouldn't expect anything but a close game this Sunday. Nothing would delight Titans fans more than to avoid the blunders which give opponents opportunities and get a quality game from Young. Putting someone away would be nice and give the team a lot of confidence heading into the Jags game.