Coming off a win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 6, the Titans traveled to Washington in search of a two game win streak in Week 7. The Titans didn’t win very pretty against the Jaguars with the final score being 16-14. A bit more on that game shortly but a win is a win. Alas, the Titans weren’t able to win two games in a row as they fell 19-17 to Washington courtesy of a late rally by Colt McCoy.
Illness prevented us from doing a recap of the Jaguars game but the Titans barely hung on for the win. If not for some questionable decisions by the Jaguars late in the game the Titans might very well be looking at a loss. As it was, it was definitely too close for comfort and the Titans looked very uninspired in the win.
The Titans were without Jake Locker for the second straight game and Charlie Whitehurst led the offensive attack against Washington. Perhaps attack isn’t the right word here as the offense was really sluggish and didn’t get much going. That seems to be the story of the Titans season in 2014.
The Titans quarterback situation is curious. Jake Locker has missed games due to a sprained wrist and more recently a sore thumb/hand. Given the state of the offense under Whitehurst, the lack of any urgency surrounding getting Locker back on the field is striking. It appears someone doesn’t want Locker on the field but it’s hard to tell exactly who.
In his past two starts, Charlie Whitehurst is 34 of 54 for 393 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He hasn’t been much of a factor in scrambling to extend plays or get yardage like he did early on against the Indianapolis Colts. Whitehurst is also showing his lack of experience playing the position as he is jittery in the pocket and has the classic case of “hearing footsteps.” He must do a better job getting the ball out of his hands and into the hands of his receivers.
The offensive woes aren’t all the quarterback’s fault however. The offensive line continues to struggle and penalties remain an issue there. It would help if Whitehurst didn’t hang onto the ball so long but pass protection was an issue with Locker too. Also, the Titans wide receivers remain terrible at getting off the jam at the line and creating separation down field. Teams are taking away tight end Delanie Walker who is the Titans only playmaker right now at receiver and it is showing in the passing numbers.
One area that has seen some improvement is the run game where the Titans have been a bit more balanced lately. Sunday against Washington the Titans called 20 designed run plays and 26 pass plays. Bishop Sankey is starting to get the bulk of the carries and has been good thus far but not great. While I cautioned against overhyping Sankey before the season began I did expect more from him at this point.
The Titans defense would be better if not for their struggling secondary. Young players like Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Marqueston Huff and Daimion Stafford show promise but are still growing into their new roles. The loss of Bernard Pollard has been particularly hard on free safety Michael Griffin who has struggled greatly this season. Coty Sensabaugh has been their best cornerback but he missed the Washington game.
Defensive lineman Jurrell Casey is playing well as is Ropati Pitoitua, Karl Klug and Al Woods. Linebacker Wesley Woodyard has been a great pickup and rookie linebacker Avery Williamson is playing quite well. Derrick Morgan had one bad game but otherwise has been fairly outstanding at outside linebacker. Kam Wimbley has been making more plays lately too. If the secondary settles down the Titans defense could be decent yet they did lose to the backup to the backup in Washington in Colt McCoy.
The Washington game featured yet another special teams breakdown when punt returner Dexter McCluster muffed a punt. Washington would get 3 points off the resulting drive. Special teams remain a big concern and former pro bowler McCluster has been below average there since joining the Titans in the off season.
The Titans return home Sunday to take on the Houston Texans who just dropped a bad loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. They will face former starter Ryan Fitzpatrick who is now the quarterback for the Texans. Jake Locker is still day to day and we will update you on his progress. Coty Sensabaugh continues to improve but might not play this week either.
One final note and that is the Titans today traded former second round pick Akeem Ayers to the New England Patriots for basically nothing. The Titans will get the Pats 6th round pick in 2015 but will also trade 7th round spots. So it’s basically a bit of a wash. Ayers had inexplicably fallen out of favor in Tennessee.