Titans vs Colts: Gameday Keys to a Win
By Les Bailey
The Tennessee Titans begin a five-week, four game home stand today when they take the field against the 0-2 Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium. The Titans do not have history on their side, with Indy winning the last seven games and 12 of the last 13.
The Tennessee Titans come into this game in a rebuilding year that is showing the promise of a young team on the rise, and Indianapolis comes into Music City with an embattled head coach, Chuck Pagano firmly on the hot seat with questions about his franchise quarterback.
Colts owner, Jim Irsay was not happy about losing to the New York Jets on Monday night in front of a national audience, and I’m not sure the shaky relationship between Pagano and general manager, Ryan Grigson can survive a loss the the lowly Titans.
The pressure is firmly on a Colts team that has been almost annointed another AFC Championship game by the national media and I don’t things will be pretty in Indianapolis if this team starts the 2015 season 0-3.
Two key things need to happen if the Tennessee Titans want to send Andrew Luck and the Colts back to Indy in a big hole to start this season, and they are centered around their fourth-year quarterback.
Keep Andrew Luck on the Sideline
The best way to keep Andrew Luck from beating you, is keep him, T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Andre Johnson on the sideline.
The best way to get this done, is for Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt to design a game plan that has a heavy dose of running back by committee with enough short passes to keep the chains moving and eating up the clock.
Bishop Sankey carried the rock in game one down in Tampa and last week, Dexter McCluster was the spark plug that ignited a third quarter comeback. McCluster lead the Titans with 98 yards on the ground and chipped in with four Marcus Mariota targets for 26 yards.
Antonio Andrews is returning this week from a hamstring injury that kept him out of the first two games, and the second-year back wants in on the action. Andrews looked good in preseason and wants an opportunity to show coach Whiz that he can tote the rock as well as anyone on this staff.
The Colts are ranked 22nd in the leagues this season in run defense, giving up 124 yards per game.
Put Pressure on Andrew Luck
When Andrew Luck is on the field, Dick LeBeau and Ray Horton need to find a way to keep constant pressure on him.
Luck has given up five interceptions in two games, and three misfires on Monday night where he also fumbled the ball trying to scramble for a first down.
Derrick Morgan has four sacks on the season, and he needs to let Brian Orakpo in on the action today.
The difference in last Sunday’s game were two bombs when Johnny Manziel escaped the pocket and threw 110 yards worth of touchdown passes to Travis Benjamin. Luck is not a quick as the former Texas A&M star, but he is bigger, and harder to get on the ground.
Of course, the secondary will need to cover their receivers to make this approach work, but there is a possibility the Titans will get Jason McCourty back today.
McCourty has practiced all week, and is still probable for this game, but the Titans need him on the field. Ken Whisenhunt said in his Friday presser, that JMac has been running well after his groin problems, but hasn’t had the contact in practice that he will see in realtime.
Life is always filled with ifs and a Titans victory in week three will come with a lot of ifs. If the Titans can control the clock and keep Andrew Luck on the sideline, they can send the Colts home tonight with another loss and even more controversy.
Wouldn’t it be fun for the Titans cause that controversy?
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