A few observations I took from the first quarter of pre-season week 3 as the Titans hosted the Chicago Bears.
On the first drive, QB Matthew Hasselbeck just missed connecting with (starting) WR Nate Washington on two big plays, one of which was a guaranteed touchdown, if caught. A lot of QB’s will lead their WR’s with the ball and it seemed as if Washington ran clueless of any type of lead from Hasselbeck. It was like they’ve never played together. For instance, on the first pass that wasn’t, Hasselbeck threw the ball just left of Washington. Washington didn’t adjust. He didn’t seem prepared to make any adjustment. Hasselbeck aimed slightly left in order to help Washington rid himself of the defender and if things went great after Washington caught the pass, there was a chance Washington got by the safety. Again, this was due to the ball placement. It seems to me that Washington isn’t used to how Hasselbeck reads defenses and that caused the lapse on both plays. With more time playing together, Washington (and the others) will know how Hasselbeck thinks and that will give them an advantage. It’s possible that this becomes a problem, but it’s safe to assume that NFL receivers are capable of learning.
Titans defense seems better against the run than the pass. The erly interception for free safety Michael Griffin came on a defensed pass and it was easily the most exciting play for the Titans in the first quarter. Bears QB Jay Cutler mostly stayed pressured on the ends but not up the middle, on passing plays. I’ve read that LB Gerald McRath will be used primarily on passing downs and some say that he can’t wrap-up his tackles well at all. I would think the wrap-up in the open field against Bears RB Marion Barber would work against those critics, due to Barbers physicality that he brings to each play. All-in-all it was an average performance from the defense during the first quarter with a few flashes of good, such as new DT Shaun Smith breaching the offensive line of the Bears in order to stuff RB Matt Forte. However, there was also the TD run from Forte in which he seemed to jog in a broken pattern untouched into the endzone. The defense as a unit seems to lack urgency/swarming ability. It’s possible Chicago blocks well, but I doubt it.
Return man Marc Mariani is back and looks great, quick footwork to match great vision. He can be special again this year.