I figured it was a more intriguing headline than “Titans vs. Raiders pre-season game notes”. It’s been awesome following Phelps for the last week. I have never watched this much swimming in my entire life. I haven’t gone swimming as much as I’ve watched it this Olympics. So really, congrats to that dude. He just had me standing in front of my television yelling “Go baby! USA!” in an empty house. Pathetic maybe, but also patriotic. Plus, he listens to Wayne to get pumped up before races. How cool is that? Um, music video cameo please? The only thing about that guy I don’t like is that he’s a Ravens fan. That just makes me sick…
If you can’t already tell, I don’t have a whole lot to say about last night’s game, other than that it was ugly. Coming off of the rushing clinic the Titans put on the Rams last week, it was clear that Heimerdinger wanted to establish the passing game straight out of the gate against a good Raiders secondary. Unfortunately, Vince Young couldn’t get on the same page with his receivers, as he overthrew, underthrew and flat out missed them for most of his time on the field. It was just a small sampling, but his performance last night was a clear example of why so many have been skeptical about Young’s ability to succeed in the NFL. Since it was a nationally televised game on Fox, there was a lot of talk about what we have heard around here for quite some time: “Vince has worked on his footwork all off-season” and “Heimerdinger has Young stepping up in the pocket more to throw off of his front foot”, but it sure didn’t seem like it. Time and time again replays showed Young throwing off his back foot and with his hips open wide. To be perfectly honest, I thought he looked terrible and yes, I am a bit worried. Listen, the guy has tons of potential. He is a winner, and he always has been. What he lacks as a more prototypical quarterback, he makes up for with his feet and his ability to stretch out plays. What worries me though is that these bad habits he has adopted throughout college and the NFL (i.e. bad passing form, inability to lead the receiver, knowing that he is the best athlete on the field and taking that for granted) are now catching up with him and hindering his progress as an NFL quarterback.
I did think that our receivers played well when there was a catchable ball thrown their way. Bo Scaife (3-40) played a really solid game, and I think Crumpler’s presence will actually open up the field a lot for him. He catches well, blocks well and has a nice rapport with VY from their days at Texas. Justin Gage was solid as usual. He knows how much is expected of him this year and to this point, he has given Titans fans every reason to believe that he can lead this group. Lavelle Hawkins continues to impress, hauling in two passes for 70 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown catch that he went up and got and broke away from two defenders on his way to the end zone. He also returned two punts for 16 yards and two kickoffs 48 yards. I think Heimerdinger is going to do all he can to find a way to get the rookie onto the field. Chris Davis and Biren Ealy (3-70) came up in the clutch as they both made nice grabs on balls thrown by Ingle Martin on the final drive that led to the game-winning John Vaughn field goal. Ealy and Martin are playing for spots on this team, so it was nice to see them step up. The staff is going to have a hard time cutting this roster down.
Chris Johnson was probably the highlight of the night again (outside of the Hawkins TD), rushing for 46-yards on eight carries. He looked sharp in waiting for his blockers and getting up field. Johnson has made no secret of the fact that he wants to be the Offensive Rookie of the Year, and so far, I haven’t been more impressed with any of the other rookies from this draft class. It has become quite apparent that Johnson will play a huge role in this offense, and the more he plays, and plays well this preseason, the better off he will be when it’s time to play on Sundays. I’m looking forward to seeing him then.
On a side note, Darren McFadden did look rather good last night (6-44), and if there is anyone that can give Johnson competition for the award, I imagine it will be McFadden.
Other than that, it was a pretty slow game. The team had more penalties than Fisher would like (10-72), but they didn’t turn the ball over and had two takeaways to boot. I don’t know if we learned a whole lot last night, but that is why they play these preseason games. There are a lot of kinks to work out during this time, so to see some of those as “works-in-progress”, and still come out with a win is a plus. The next preseason game is Friday at Atlanta. We’ll see if the Titans have learned from any of their mistakes then. See you at the Georgia Dome…
Tags: Alge Crumpler Atlanta Falcons Biren Ealy Bo Scaife Chris Davis Chris Johnson Cortland Finnegan Darren McFadden Fox Georgia Dome Ingle Martin Jeff Fisher Justin Gage Lavelle Hawkins Michael Phelps Mike Heimerdinger NFL Oakland Raiders St. Louis Rams Tennessee Titans University Of Texas USA Vince Young