The 4-6 Tennessee Titans traveled to Oakland, California to take on the 4-6 Raiders in an AFC matchup that amazingly still had playoff implications. It was a must win for both teams who were still in the playoff hunt in an year where conceivably a 9-7 team can make the playoffs. The Raiders were without running back Darren McFadden and wide receiver Denarius Moore. Undrafted free agent rookie quarterback Matt McGloin was making his second start of the year. So how did the Titans fare? Let’s take a look.
The Titans run game once again stagnated, and the Titans were forced out of necessity to throw the football. Backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been nothing short of outstanding in his second go round leading the Titans offense. Fitzpatrick went 30 of 42 for 320 yards and 2 touchdowns. After throwing 4 interceptions in his first 2 starts, Fitzpatrick hasn’t thrown an interception since taking over the reins once again. He did have a costly lost fumble against the Jaguars in Week 10.
Since taking over in the Jaguars game in Week 10, Fitzpatrick’s quarterback rating hasn’t dropped below 109.2. Against the Jaguars it was 111.2, against the Colts it was 111.6 and against the Raiders it was 109.2. He has thrown 5 touchdowns as well. Finally, in his last 3 games Fitzpatrick has taken only 5 sacks. Want more? See some of my tweets about this game.
Speaking of Fitzpatrick, he produced 2 100+ receivers in the win Sunday and gave rookie wideout Justin Hunter his first of his young and promising career. Hunter was simply outstanding catching all of 6 Fitzpatrick’s targets for 109 yards and a touchdown. Kendall Wright also posted his first 100+ receiving game, catching 6 of Fitzpatrick’s 7 targets for 103 yards and a touchdown. Titans tight end Delanie Walker continues to play well although he dropped two balls. He finished with 5 catches for 46 yards. Some more stats below.
— Sharona (@SportsbySharona) November 25, 2013
how does he compare with former Titans TE Jared Cook? Cook is ranked 22 and Delanie is ranked 4th at 60% of snaps pic.twitter.com/4mEMmgBV1j
— Sharona (@SportsbySharona) November 25, 2013
The run game continues to be an issue and Chris Johnson is likely playing his last season with the Titans. He is ranked in the bottom of the league in virtually every category among running backs per Pro Football Focus. Granted not all of it is Johnson’s fault as Shonn Greene isn’t producing much either. Johnson rushed 20 times for 73 for a 3.7 yards per carry average. Greene rushed 4 times for 15 yards and a 3.8 yards per carry average. Fitzpatrick had 5 rushes for 26 yards and a 5.2 yards per carry average.
To recap, the Titans threw the ball 42 times versus running the ball 24 times (not counting Fitzpatrick’s scrambles). I have talked about the offensive line struggles before and it is troubling that line issues continue to haunt the Titans. Granted, there have been injuries but line play should be better than it has been and I think it is a function of a slow transition from playing to coaching by Bruce Matthews. I respect what Matthews accomplished as a player but if the line doesn’t dramatically improve you wonder if a change must be made. Obviously that assumes Mike Munchak retains his job in 2014.
On defense, we saw some progress as the Titans didn’t miss any tackles against the Raiders after missing 11 against the Colts. The safety play was greatly improved in large part due to better tackling fundamentals. I have gone on record with my opinion on the soft zone coverage but really it has been largely successful. The Titans haven’t given up a touchdown in the air to a wide receiver since Week 2. The big plays have come by tight ends which is largely a function of the linebacker play. Zach Brown had a nice interception but also gave up a touchdown pass to fullback Marcel Reese. I continue to believe in the Titans young linebackers but they have been a bit inconsistent this year and the big impact plays have been few and far between.
Middle linebacker Moise Fokou returned and played the entire game. Colin McCarthy did not see a single snap on defense despite being active. Fokou is the better tackler of the two at this point but other than that I don’t understand the Titans fascination with him. I don’t like the missed tackles but I think McCarthy is the better linebacker of the two particularly in coverage. I don’t always agree with them but Pro Football Focus supports me on this one. Regardless, it’s an area you expect the Titans to address in the upcoming draft. They need a headbanger like McCarthy used to be.
Speaking of coverage, linebacker Akeem Ayers was targeted 6 times and gave up 5 receptions for 49 yards. He also gave up a team high 41 yards after catch which well isn’t optimal. This hasn’t been Ayers best year in coverage as he has given up 196 yards after the catch and 1 touchdown. He has been targeted 35 times and given up 29 receptions for 276 yards. He has two passes defensed on the year. Ayers is entering his contract year in 2014 and needs to step it up if he wants to get the kind of second contract his talent would suggest. He is under performing right now.
I think Zach Brown, despite giving up 2 touchdowns this year, remains the Titans best coverage linebacker. This is an area where Pro Football Focus and I disagree.
Brown is being targeted almost as much, is giving up far less completions and less yards per catch. They have both given up a touchdown to a tight end. Ayers gave up the touchdown to former Titan Jared Cook and Brown to Antonio Gates. Ayers does have 2 passes defensed to Brown’s 1.
The Titans bend don’t break defense allowed 353 total net yards against the Raiders giving up 93 net yards rushing and 260 net yards passing. The Raiders averaged 6.4 yards per offensive play and produced 2 tackles for a loss. Amazingly, the Titans did not record a sack against the Raiders nor did they register a quarterback hit per the official NFL stat line (PFF credited Jurrell Casey with 1). The Titans did have 6 passes defensed. Also, the Raiders were 3 of 10 on third down for a 30% third down efficiency rate.
Titans free safety Michael Griffin led the team in tackles (usually not a good sign) with 7 tackles and 1 assist. Zach Brown was second with 8 tackles (5 solo), 1 tackle for a loss, and 2 passes defensed. Sammie Lee Hill had one of his better games with 3 tackles and a batted pass. Rookie defensive back Blidi Wreh-Wilson forced a fumble on the last play of the game to seal the victory. The last draft class is really starting to pay dividends.
Special teams issues remain with Devon Wylie fumbling, but not losing, a muffed punt. Brett Kern had a punt blocked. Thankfully the snafus didn’t cost the Titans the game as has been in the past. Rob Bironas was 3 of 3 on field goals with a long of 33 yards.
In the end, the Titans continued to believe and never stopped fighting. The limiting of mistakes paid off and they walked away with the win. In order for them to continue to win, they have to continue the pattern of limiting the mistakes and playing good solid football. You would like to see more disciplined play with fewer penalties going forward.
|Tennessee Titans (5-6-0)||Oakland Raiders (4-7-0)|
|Total First Downs||22||Total First Downs||19|
|By Rushing||4||By Rushing||4|
|By Passing||16||By Passing||14|
|By Penalty||By Penalty|
|Third Down Efficiency||10/18 – 55%||Third Down Efficiency||3/10 – 30%|
|Fourth Down Efficiency||0/0 – 0%||Fourth Down Efficiency||0/0 – 0%|
|Total Net Yards||426||Total Net Yards||353|
|Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks)||73||Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks)||55|
|Average Gain per Offensive Play||5.8||Average Gain per Offensive Play||6.4|
|Net Yards Rushing||114||Net Yards Rushing||93|
|Total Rushing Plays||29||Total Rushing Plays||23|
|Average Gain per Rushing Play||3.9||Average Gain per Rushing Play||4.0|
|Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards)||1–2||Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards)||2–3|
|Net Yards Passing||312||Net Yards Passing||260|
|Times Sacked (Number-Yards)||2 – 8||Times Sacked (Number-Yards)||0 – 0|
|Gross Yards Passing||320||Gross Yards Passing||260|
|Pass Comp-Att-Int||30 – 42 – 0||Pass Comp-Att-Int||19 – 32 – 1|
|Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks)||7.1||Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks)||8.1|
|Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks)||6 – 5 – 1||Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks)||6 – 4 – 4|
|Punts (Number-Average)||5 – 32.6||Punts (Number-Average)||2 – 47.5|
|Net Punting Average||24.2||Net Punting Average||47.5|
|FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked||0 – 0||FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked||0 – 0|
|Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs)||3||Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs)||18|
|Punt Returns (Number-Yards)||1 – 0||Punt Returns (Number-Yards)||2 – 18|
|Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards)||2 – 31||Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards)||5 – 108|
|Interception Returns (Number-Yards)||1 – 3||Interception Returns (Number-Yards)||0 – 0|
|Penalties (Number-Yards)||10 – 100||Penalties (Number-Yards)||4 – 50|
|Fumbles (Number-Lost)||3 – 0||Fumbles (Number-Lost)||2 – 1|
|Kickoff Returns||0||Kickoff Returns||0|
|Fumble Returns||0||Fumble Returns||0|
|Punt Returns||0||Punt Returns||0|
|Extra Points (Made-Attempted)||2 – 2||Extra Points (Made-Attempted)||1 – 1|
|Kicking (Made-Attempted)||2 – 2||Kicking (Made-Attempted)||1 – 1|
|Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted)||0 – 0||Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted)||0 – 0|
|Field Goals (Made-Attempted)||3 – 3||Field Goals (Made-Attempted)||4 – 6|
|Red Zone Efficiency||1/4 – 25%||Red Zone Efficiency||0/2 – 0%|
|Goal To Go Efficiency||1/1 – 100%||Goal To Go Efficiency||0/0 – 0%|
|Final Score||23||Final Score||19|
|Time of Possession||35:48||Time of Possession||24:12|