September 16, 2012; San Diego, CA, Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker (10) hands the ball to running back Chris Johnson (28) during the first quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
I’m having a bit of trouble. Maybe you can help me out. There was this strategy that the Tennessee Titans coaches and front office talked a lot about during the offseason and preseason. It was an offensive element the coaches really wanted to lean on. The idea was continuously reinforced, both through free-agent signings and the draft.
Oh, that’s right. I remember now. It was a renewed commitment to running the football.
Well, two weeks into the season, the Titans have not failed to deliver on their promise to run the ball down their opponents’ throats. It doesn’t matter that the running game has thus far been relatively ineffective. It doesn’t matter that they’ve only scored one rushing touchdown. What matters is their undying devotion to handing off the football.
There are many reasons for such a ground-heavy attack. Jake Locker is a young quarterback and the coaching staff wants to make it as easy on him as possible. The Titans want to control the clock. The Titans personnel lends itself nicely to a strong running game.
This commitment to the running backs will be the reason the Titans beat the San Diego Chargers for the first time in franchise history on Sunday.
The Chargers have allowed running backs to pile up 330 yards, both rushing and receiving, in just two games this season. They’ve allowed opposing teams to average 4.7 yards per carry overall (sixth- worst in the NFL), and 4.7 yards per carry in the red zone (which is awful considering there’s only 20 yards of space in the red zone. It’s so awful, in fact, that it ranks as third-worst in the league).
The Titans, on the other hand, rank first in the league in rushing attempts with 75 in just two games. They’re only averaging 3.1 yards per carry, but they haven’t played a team as bad defensively as the Chargers. Despite squaring off against such respected defenses as the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Houston Texans, the Titans have still managed to be in the top 10 in total rushing yards with more than 115 yards per game.
What does this mean for Chris Johnson and the Tennessee Titans? It means they are going to have a field day against this defense. Don’t be surprised if Johnson tops his obscenely high average of 25 carries per game. Don’t be surprised if he looks like the 2009 version of himself and rips off multiple home-run style runs. Don’t be surprised if the Titans control the time of possession by a 2:1 ratio. And, most of all, don’t be surprised if the Titans win this game by double digits.
If I were a betting man—wait. What am I saying? I am a betting man.
Let me rephrase that. If I were a betting man and had easy (and legal) access to a Las Vegas Sportsbook between now and Sunday, I would put down a hefty sum of money on the Tennessee Titans.
It comes down to this: the only thing the Titans want to do on offense is run the football. And the Chargers defense is incapable of stopping them.
Don’t agree? I’d appreciate the feedback, either in the comments below or on Twitter @JGra_TitanSized.
EDITOR NOTE: Chargers fans, that makes SIX staffers who picked the Titans. ZERO picked the Chargers. Got anything to say about that or will you wait until after the game?