Offense: Chris Johnson
This is Chris Johnson’s 6th Titan Up! game ball of the season (the most of any Titan) so congratulations “Twitch” on being, well, so great. His 19 carries for 136 yards and a touchdown on the ground (good for a whopping 7.1 ypc) moved him into 6th place in the league in rushing (5th before DeAngelo Williams blew up against the Bucs on MNF). In breaking the 1,000 yard mark during his rookie year (1,094 thus far), “Twitch” became only the third Titan/Oiler in franchise history to accomplish that feat, putting him in the same company as Earl Campbell (1,450) and Eddie George (1,368). Not a bad group to be in. He also happened to be the team’s leading receiver against the Browns, catching four balls for 30 yards. Bottom line, there is nothing this kid cannot do. The sky’s the limit.
I know that Matt Ryan is probably the front-runner for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award but, my man-crush for him aside, CJ should be right there with him as a favorite to win the award. Ryan has come in and been a major piece in the Falcons’ surprising turnaround, which seemed almost impossible given the state of the franchise at the end of last season. The fact that he is a rookie makes it all the more impressive, but in drafting Johnson, the Titans quite possibly added the piece to the puzzle that will lead this team to the promised land. He has the vision and speed of Eagles RB Brian Westbrook, and once his body fills out and he adds some muscle, look out.
Honorable Mention: LenDale White
While it has become clear over the course of the season that Chris Johnson is the more talented, explosive back on the Titans, it has also become just as clear how valuable LenDale White is to this team. His team high 24 carries equated to a solid 99 yards (a respectable 4.1 ypc) and a touchdown, bring his season total to 14 which is tied for first in the NFL. He actually had eclipsed the century mark late in the fourth quarter, but a late run to the outside lost a single yard to bring him back under a hundy. If he had stayed at 100, he and Chris Johnson would have become the first tandem since 1976 to rush for 100 yards in the same game three times in a season, when Pittsburgh Steelers running backs Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier accomplished the feat. Ho hum. With “Smash & Dash” sharing carries (222 for “Twitch” and 170 for White) the dynamic duo should be relatively fresh heading down the home stretch towards the playoffs. Let’s go for that record this week in Houston…
Defense: The Defense
This one was tough because no one really stood out on the defensive side of the ball, which is a shame seeing that it was the Browns and all. There wasn’t really any pressure put on the third-string-QB-turned-starter Ken Dorsey, and the Titans only had one takeaway all day (a Michael Griffin interception). It wasn’t pretty, but still the Titans held them to a measly 178 total yards that led to only 9 points. The Wildcat-hybrid formation that the Browns attempted to run with return specialist and really fast dude, Joshua Cribbs, was good for only 24 yards on six carries, although he did throw a nice deep ball to stud-turned-dud WR Braylon Edwards that barely sailed its way out of bounds. Jamal Lewis was a complete non-factor in the run game with seven carries for as many yards. For all you math majors out there, that’s 1.0 yard per carry. The leading tacklers for the Titans were LB David Thornton and CB Nick Harper who both had eight solo tackles apiece. Other than that though, it was pretty boring. Not that boring is bad, as they got the job done and the numbers were solid, it just wasn’t in the fine fashion that we’ve grown so accustomed to seeing over the course of this season. Guess they’ll just have to make up for it in Houston. Look out…
Honorable Mention: It’s not often we do this (and by not often, we mean never) but this week, Titan Sized is going to reward a member of the opposing team a game ball. Sacrelige, maybe? But as much as we like to bury and humiliate our opponents, we have to give credit where credit is due. The Browns have taken a giant step backwards this year (probably at the expense of head coach Romeo Crennel’s job, and hopefully GM Phil Savage’s as well if there is any justice), but they may have a future star at linebacker in third-year pro D’Quell Jackson. Jackson came into Sunday’s game leading the NFL in tackles (115), and against the Titans he added to that total with a game high 15 tackles, with 12 of those being of the solo variety. Oh yeah, he also had two picks and Kerry Collins was lucky that he dropped a third. Too bad that he and defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, who had a respectable eight tackles in the game, are the only two guys on that defense who show up to play on Sundays.
Topics: 2008 AFC South Champions, AFC South, Atlanta Falcons, Braylon Edwards, Brian Westbrook, Chris "Twitch" Johnson, Cleveland Browns, D'Quell Jackson, David Thornton, DeAngelo Williams, Earl Campbell, Eddie George, Franco Harris, Houston Oilers, Jamal Lewis, Joshua Cribbs, Ken Dorsey, Kerry Collins, LenDale White, Matt Ryan, Michael Griffin, Monday Night Football, NFL, Nick Harper, Offensive Rookie Of The Year, Phil Savage, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Rocky Bleier, Romeo Crennel, Shaun Rogers, Smash & Dash, Tampa Bay Buccaneers