Pass Protection: Keeping Justin Houston, Tamba Hali off Ryan Fitzpatrick
Pass protection hasn’t been a strength for the Titans offense. They’ve introduced three new interior offensive linemen: Andy Levitre, Rob Turner and rookie Chance Warmack. Along with a hobbled David Stewart, they’ve allowed defenders far too often to get into the backfield and disrupt Locker. Eventually, those hits took their toll on the third-year quarterback.
They’ll face their biggest challenge yet. Entering Week 5, the Chiefs led the NFL with 18 team sacks. Justin Houston had 7.5 of them. His dominant play earned him AFC Player of the Month. His sacks have come in bunches: 4.5 sacks vs Philadelphia Eagles, 3.0 vs Jacksonville Jaguars, none vs New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.
Houston isn’t their only disruptive pass-rusher. Tamba Hali is another outside linebacker with double-digit sack potential. His last four seasons have included sack totals of 8.5, 14.5, 12.0 and 9.0. This season, Hali has three sacks.
Keep these men off Fitzpatrick. It’s a must.
REALITY: Houston and Hali each had a sack. According to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, Michael Roos received a negative grade. When Roos doesn’t play well, it spells disaster. Fitzpatrick had pressure in his face for the entire first half.
FAILURE (0 of 2)
Interior Offensive Line vs Dontari Poe
Chiefs fans are raving about Dontari Poe and the impact he has had on the entire defense. KC Kingdom co-editor Ben Nielsen highlighted him as the top guy who could wreak havoc against the Titans. If Turner and the rest of the interior offensive line isn’t ready, Nielsen will have a point.
REALITY: Nielsen had a point. According to Wyatt, Pro Football Focus gave Turner his lowest run-blocking grade. Poe dominated.
FAILURE (0 of 3)
Earlier this week, Titan Sized assistant editor John Sciarretta wrote a column about how Johnson had to have a “Paycheck Game.” Against a defense that has surrendered 5.4 yards per carry to their first four opponents, there’s no reason for Johnson to have an encore of his forgettable Week 4 stat line: 15 carries for 21 yards.
It’s worth noting, however, that the Chiefs’ yards-per-carry average has been skewed from Michael Vick’s performance of four carries for 99 yards. Regardless, without Locker, the Titans must create lanes. Johnson must find them—and exploit them.
REALITY: Johnson had 10 carries for 17 yards. His last two games include 25 carries for 38 yards. If Johnson keeps posting those stat lines, the Titans won’t beat many teams.
FAILURE (0 of 4)