Entering a week 7 showdown in which only one team will walk away the leader of the AFC South, it’s easy to say the Titans have a lot on the shoulders. You know? The hopes and dreams of Titans fans everywhere. Expectations from an aging owner, growing frustration at the output from the running game (namely Chris “not 2K” Johnson) as well as the lack of a true playmaker outside of WR Nate Washington, despite a career resurrection from QB Matthew Hasselbeck.
However, winning solves everything. So, what can the Titans do to win on today against a Houston Texans team reeling from injuries to key players Mario Williams, Andre Johnson and James Casey?
1. Play physical
Football is violent and I’m not preaching that the Titans should hurt the Texans, just make them fear you. Both teams want to run the ball, but to be the successful team at running the ball, the Titans will need to knock the Texans defense around. Move those strong defensive ends out of the way. Dominate the smaller nose tackles at the point of attack. Be more physical.
2. Unleash the run game
Obviously Chris Johnson is talented. Obviously it’s not working. The Titans have capable backs behind Johnson and they should run whoever hits the holes the hardest and the quickest. If it’s not Chris Johnson then let someone else run the ball. I understand that the player making the most money will play the most, however, this game is far too important to foolishly play someone who clearly isn’t getting the job done. Let Johnson have his hand and if it’s not working then—Next man up.
3. Extend drives
When the defense has to go out on the field because the offense keeps running the ball and going nowhere and then finds that a third and long isn’t as easy to convert when Nate Washington gets double coverage and no one else is open, well, the defense will get too worn down by games end. This is how comebacks happen. The Titans absolutely have too keep their drives extended. 3-and-outs in this game will not work.
4. Hit Matt Schaub
We all know that the Texans have an explosive offense, how explosive the offense can be without star wideout Andre Johnson is another question. One that can’t be answered until a few more games have passed. Luckily, the Titans get to test them while they’re weak. The lack of Johnson will give the Titans more of a chance to play man as well as blitz the QB. Take advantage of that and rough the QB up. Schaub won’t look like a Pro Bowler when he’s getting hit consistently. Make him nervous.
5. Find a #2
Kenny Britt, unfortunately, is out for the season. He’s not coming back. As a result, the Titans have to lean on Nate Washington more, which isn’t a bad scenario when looking at the chemistry developed between himself and Hasselbeck. Washington, however, can’t do it alone. The Titans have to find someone else to be effective. It doesn’t matter who starts or who receives the most plays, someone has to make plays at wide receiver besides Washington.