Posted by Barrie on Monday, 12 October 2009

Tennessee: We Have A Problem

Last season the former Houston Oilers made a 10-0 start before finishing the season with the best record in the NFL at 13-3. However, they were beaten in their first playoff match to old rivals Baltimore Ravens, and their losing streak continues 5 games into the regular season.

Coming off of a humiliation in Jacksonville the week before, Tennessee could only have hope coming into last night's game with Indianapolis that they could come away with a victory. They didn't help themselves when Alge Crumpler fumbled inside his own half on their opening possession that lead to Peyton Manning throwing his first of 3 touchdown passes, to Reggie Wayne on 4th down to opening the scoring.

Their defence that hasn't played well this season intercepted Manning in the opening quarter and Keith Bulluck who made the catch returned it into Colts territory but the Titans offence could only come away with 3 points. Tennessee failed to capitalise on a bodged punt return that handed possession over to them, and with the prospect of going into half only 5 points down, their defence imploded. They allowed Indianapolis to drive 93 yards for the score in 47 seconds, aiding them with two roughing the passer calls to gift the Colts 30 yards and time outs. Austin Collie finished the drive breaking 2 tackles for a 39 yard score. The game was over at that point and the Colts went on to win 31-9.

Vince Young got a few snaps in at the end, going 0/3 with 2 of those passes closer to a Colts player than a team mate and the other dropped by Nate Washington. He did have 1 rush for 6 yards to convert a third down, but it's unlikely to get him above Kerry Collins on the depth chart next week with coach Jeff Fisher declaring after the game that Collins is “not the problem” with their team. And he's made a fair point. Dropped passes have been a big part of the Titans dreadful start to the season as they haven't got the ball moving through the air. Even Chris Johnson, 3rd in rushing yards in the NFL hasn't been able to get the rest of the offence ticking.

Defensively they cannot defend the pass. While perhaps only Peyton Manning could have completed some of those passes last night, they can't excuse another 300 yard passing game against them on the basis “he's on form” (throwing 300+ yards in all 5 games so far this season). They've allowed 300+ passing yards in 4/5 games now, with the other 3 quarterbacks being Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub and David Garrard. Manning only ranks 4th on that list. New defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil will have the finger pointed at him for miscommunication and poor calls for some of their plays this season, while up front they aren't getting enough pressure on the quarterback following the loss of Albert Haynesworth in the off-season. He clearly hasn't been replaced, and can't be replaced. They're not creating as many turnovers as they did last season, and they're giving more away. Ultimately that has to be avoided if they want to start winning again.

As for head coach Jeff Fisher, he remains calm. The face of this organisation, it will be interesting to see if he remains in charge after this season if things don't turn around. He's brought a lot of success during his reign here including their only ever Superbowl appearance. He will probably be given another chance, subject to how badly beaten they end up. But he needs to look at the rest of his coaching staff because they don't look set to have long careers in the NFL and he needs to address this problem.

Their final game before their bye week is in New England, another defeat on the cards there I expect our NFL Tipster to say, before they face the Jacksonville Jaguars who only stuffed them a week ago. The Titans will eventually pick up a few wins this season, but will be far, far short of the playoffs.

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