Offense: Chris Johnson
Welcome to the NFL Mr. Johnson., we’ve been waiting. The 2008 first round pick out of East Carolina continued his ascent to stardom with a huge effort against a good Jaguars defense. After an impressive pre-season in which he showed fans his lights-out, breakaway speed, as well as an ability to line up in different formations and pick up blocks in passing situations, the rookie found himself on the field to start the game instead of incumbent LenDale White. And boy did he ever look good. On the day, Johnson finished with 15 carries for 93 yards and 3 catches for 34 yards and a score. He got to the outside with ease out of the backfield, and truth be told, he could have had at least one more score if he hadn’t been tripped up a time or two. His touchdown catch came on a screen pass from Young that really was not a very good throw, but Johnson was able to come back to it, make a tough catch and take it to the house. He was really the only highlight for the offense the whole game (minus a solid performance from Bo Scaife who ended the day with 6 catches for 105 yards, including a 44-yard reception late in the fourth to help seal the victory). The Titans may have not only found their next Offensive Rookie of the Year, they may have also found a top-flight running back that can be a threat all over the field for some time to come. Nice pick Rheinfeldt.
Side note: We have been working on a nickname for Chris Johnson and we would love some reader input. Some ideas floated around have been concerning the Olympics (we were pretty enthralled by “the games” at the time), something about gold medals or gold, blah, blah, blah. Basically, the kid is solid gold (24K baby) and is lighting fast (think Usain Bolt), so we were going in that direction with it. If you’ve got anything to add, or any better suggestions, please do share.
Defense: The defense
There were so many things to love about the Titans defensive performance today that there really is no way to pick just one player or unit. The defensive line pressured Jags quarterback David Garrard all day long, totaling 7 QB sacks (Haynesworth-2, Brown-2, KVB-1, Griffin-1, Jones and Vickerson-1/2 sack each), countless QB pressures, 3 tackles for loss and one forced fumble (by KVB who also recovered it). Maybe more important is that they were able to hold the running back pair of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew to a measly 31 yards rushing. Linebacker Greg Thornton was all over the place and Keith Bulluck was the steady force in the middle of the field that he always is. The secondary held the receivers in check regularly, and Cortland Finnegan and Michael Griffin only continued to prove why they are quickly becoming regarded as some of the finer young defenders in the league. Finnegan was especially impressive, recording 5 tackles and two big interceptions. They continue to improve in both coverage and run situations and should only get better as the season progresses. It was a dominant performance all around, and one that this bunch should be able to build on heading into next week’s match-up with Cincinnati. Well done to Jim Schwartz (for a great game plan), to the guys on the field (for bringing’ it all day) and to the fans (for being rowdy like the old days). Congrats all around.