Sep 09, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker (10) drops back to hand off against the New England Patriots during the second half at LP Field. The Patriots beat the Titans 34-13. Mandatory credit: Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE
Premise: It’s pretty straightforward actually. Each week, I will highlight the Titans’ players that played the best and those that were on the other end of the spectrum. For your entertainment and edification, I’ll even add a little commentary explaining each choice. I hope that in some small way, this column will serve as motivation for the team. What awaits the Winners? Everlasting honor and glory. And the Losers? Just a little soul-crushing shame. No big deal, right?
Winner: Jake Locker.
I really don’t care what the wise media pundits say; Locker had a good first start. He was more accurate than we have seen and he made a couple of very impressive throws. That 4th down pass was a thing of beauty! He had his rough moments – the fumble is something that just cannot happen. Ever. But Jake will do what he always does: he will learn from that mistake and get better. The moment was not too big for him even when it became clear that he was going to have to shoulder the load once the running game died a horrible and very humiliating death. Speaking of running game and death…
Loser: Chris Johnson and the Offensive Line.
I’m not going to put it all on one player – they were all inept. Johnson danced a bit too much. Harris decided to practice falling down a few too many times. Besides David Stewart, no one on the O-Line looked competent. Even Michael Roos, who has been so good for this team in the past, looked overwhelmed and off his game. I realize I never played running back in the NFL but it seems to me that CJ is trying to do too much. So if there were any advice that I could give him, it would be this: Worry about the first 3-5 yard first and let the next 80 take care of themselves. Get the yards that are available right then, don’t look to hit the homerun every single run. And to the O-line, all I can suggest is stop getting pushed around. You are big, strong guys. Act like it.
Winner: Kendall Wright.
While he didn’t make any spectacular plays, he showed everyone exactly why the Titans wanted him. He is fast, quick, and has very good hands. I have little doubt that Wright and Locker are going to be doing a lot of damage in this league for a very long time.
Loser: Replacement Refs.
I get it. They didn’t lose the game for the Titans. The Titans are perfectly capable of doing that themselves. But, the refs missed some calls that could have made the game look very different, especially early on. The pass interference call they missed in the end zone on the first drive was a very obvious call. I really have no idea how they missed that one.
But the call that bothered me the most was when they didn’t rule the pass to Nate Washington as an incomplete. Instead, they ruled it a catch and a fumble, forcing the Titans’ offensive players to play defense, which ended up getting Locker hurt. True, it was a bang-bang play, but the NFL has made such a big deal about what a reception looks like, that I don’t see how any ref could have considered that a catch and then a fumble. It’s as if these refs aren’t used to officiating professional football…
Sorry, I can’t think of any other Titans’ player that I would consider being a winner after the Patriots’ game. Some guys came close: Wimbley, Washington, Morgan. But they all had pretty big flaws in their game as well.
Loser: Michael Griffin.
He was just the worst. He was so bad that I thought for a second that somehow, Lamont Thompson had snuck his way on the field wearing Griffin’s uniform. If you have been a Titans’ fan for a while, you know that name and exactly how horrifying of a thought that is. Griffin was terrible. Awful. Horrible. Spectacularly bad. Atrocious…. I can do this all day.
Here’s the good thing though: Griffin knows how bad he was based on his post-game comments. I like that. He was man enough to admit how truly awful he was against the Patriots. Here’s the problem: That doesn’t mean that much to me anymore. I’m glad he can man-up after the game. I would much rather he man-up during the game.
So there you have it. The inaugural edition of Winners and Losers. I know that every week I will be able to find examples for both categories; I just hope we see a lot more winners than losers. This week was difficult to pick because so many players had bad games and very few had good games. I would like to see that reversed from here on out. If not, this is going to be a really depressing article to read and to write.
What players do you think deserve to be considered the Winners and Losers of Week 1?