8 Keys to Victory (Titans)
Is Jake Locker capable of operating an offense? He may not face an easier test than when he goes up against a Chargers defensive backfield that surrenders an NFL-worst 370 passing yards per game. While Matt Schaub and a Chip Kelly offense can do that to teams, Locker has a chance to silence some doubters during the home-opener.
Titans Offensive Line vs. Chargers Front Seven
The Chargers are allowing 30-plus points per game. That’s largely due to an underwhelming amount of defensive talent. This is the third consecutive week that the Titans have faced a 3-4 scheme. Rob Turner and Chance Warmack have been a weak link in interior pass-blocking. The offensive line must do a better job in pass protection and picking up their assignments.
Wide Receivers: Who Steps Up in Passing Game?
More is needed from Locker. Who will help him? Kenny Britt has an attitude and Kendall Wright continues to suffer from concussion-like symptoms following a big hit from last week (he should play). Nate Washington, Damian Williams and Delanie Walker are primary candidates to make big plays that will get this offense going.
150-Plus Rushing Yards from Chris Johnson, Jackie Battle
The Titans opened their season against two of the NFL’s better run-defenses (Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans). Even without Shonn Greene for most of it, the Titans have averaged 115.5 yards per game. The Chargers have nowhere near the talent on their front seven.
No excuses for this tandem not to have a huge game. That is, of course, unless Locker has a breakout performance and carves up that secondary.
Points Off Turnovers
There’s a noticeable difference in Philip Rivers and his quality of play since Mike McCoy took over as Chargers head coach. With that said, Rivers still makes some costly mistakes. That’s evidenced with the 18-yard interception return that changed the momentum from the Texans vs Chargers Monday Night Football showdown.
Last season, Rivers had two fumbles and threw an interception. Can the Titans force similar mistakes but take advantage of them this time around?
Covering Antonio Gates, Tight Ends in Red Zone
Everyone should remember Dante Rosario and his three-touchdown performance against the Titans defense. While the Titans defense has improved, they did surrender two touchdowns to Texans tight ends Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham. It’s crucial that they don’t let Antonio Gates run wild on them.
Plus-or-Minus: Darius Reynaud and Field Possession
Anyone who was watched Darius Reynaud will understand how indecisive he has been as a return specialist. Don’t believe me? Watch the first three seconds of the Week 1 opener. He’s played like that nearly the entire first two weeks. It has cost this team points and precious field position. This team can’t have that with a ball-control offense, especially when the passing offense hasn’t hit its stride.
It’s a close game in the fourth quarter. Can the defense force those key interceptions? Can Locker make those key passes? Can the offensive line take over and the Titans run out the clock?