Tennessee Titans vs. San Diego Chargers Defensive Recap
By Chase Maher
Sep 16, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey (99) sits near the misters during the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
The Tennessee Titans suffered their second straight blow out loss, this time to a San Diego Chargers team playing without future hall of fame tight end Antonio Gates. That didn’t matter however because backup tight end Dante Rosario scored 3 touchdowns.
Jackie Battle, another backup, had 2 short touchdown runs late that nailed the coffin on Tennessee’s night.
San Diego controlled the pace early and they did a great job of keeping the Titans on their heels. That combined with fantastic field position (thanks to the Titans offense) and the Chargers went up 14-0, fast. Through the second and third quarters the Titans played much better. So let’s break down the good vs. the bad during Sunday’s game
There are a couple positive things to take away from this game. Despite being put in bad positions constantly throughout the game, the defense did a pretty good job of limiting big plays. They kept the ball in front of them and the line consistently got pressure on Phillip Rivers.
Tennessee recorded 4 sacks in only 38 dropbacks. They caused 3 fumbles, but the ball just did not bounce their way. Alteraun Verner had a beautiful interception on a deep pass to Floyd, but didn’t have much of a return.
I was happy with McCarthy’s replacement, which was Witherspoon sliding over from the weak side backer position while Zach brown filled in. Speaking of Zach brown, he had 10 total tackles and a sack. That is a great game for a rookie making his first start. He showed the ability to dissect run plays and even blew up a couple blockers. I was impressed to say the least.
Tight ends continue to destroy the Titans. Michael Griffin and Robert Johnson were out of position on Rosario’s first two touchdowns. On the first one, Johnson was focused on the outside receiver and became stiff and planted allowing Rosario to get open with a scramble by Rivers. On the second touchdown Rosario put a move on Griffin.
Now on this play it is impossible to know if Witherspoon was supposed to have the back of the end zone allowing Griffin to set up for the post, nonetheless a quick double move by Rosario was all Phillip Rivers needed to rifle it in there. I have watched this play 30 times and I am almost certain that Griffin had outside coverage while the linebacker was supposed to drop back, but the offensive play call was a pick and go which made the backer hesitate just enough. Rivers is too good of a quarterback for such a vanilla zone in the redzone, let alone five yards out.
What happened to all the new wrinkles Tennessee was supposed to run this season? What is the reasoning behind Robert Johnson playing 35 yards deep center field, does he really have that kind of range? The answer is NO.
As the game went along, so did the defensive line’s energy. The heat combined with being on the field for 45 minutes was all they could handle. The depth at defensive end is a glaring weakness.
The Titans talked all off season of the emergence of Tommie Campbell as the outside nickel corner, but he hasn’t really seen the field this season outside of special teams. I can not put a finger on the reasoning behind this, but I am a bit worried when Ryan Mouton is on the field, or even dressed to play, for that matter.
“Big play” Babs received an extension this off season, but Robert Johnson has started in his place in each of the first two games. Johnson is not equipped to play strong safety, and neither is Griffin. They are both center field type safeties with good range but poor tackling.
This tandem is our weakest link on defense and teams will attack the Titans in ways that will exploit it all season. Some serious adjustments need to be made to the back seven if Tennessee wants any chance of beating the Detroit Lions next game.
My Grade: C
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