In the first game of the 2013 season, Munchak & Co. made it pretty clear what the Titans are going to be about this year. The Titans had 63 total plays, 42 of which were rushes (counting Locker’s kneel downs). That disparity shows the intentions of the coaching staff pretty clearly. That being said, Dowell Loggains did a really nice job letting the flow of the game dictate his play calls rather than sticking with exactly what he planned. Locker came out throwing and looked pretty good, but the Pittsburgh pass rush started to pin their ears back and get after him so Loggains changed up the pace. He began to rely on the big additions of the line (Levitre/Warmack) and let Johnson, Green, and Battle do the damage. Some may point to the low yards-per-carry numbers as a negative, but it was clear that they were controlling the game by running the ball and Loggains stuck with what worked.
Here are some more quick observations:
Gregg Williams made his presence known on Defense. Watching the Titans’ D reminded me a lot of the old Saints defenses that Williams employed. There was some serious bending at times but sans a garbage time TD pass, the Titans’ D never broke. McCourt & Co. left some receivers open throughout the game, but when it came down to it they made the necessary plays to force 4th down.
Jurell Casey: This guy might be the difference-maker that we need on defense. He could not be blocked on the interior, and made consistent disruptions to Roethlisberger.
Linebackers: My worry in the preseason was our LB play. I was more than bummed that McCarthy could not stay healthy long enough to take over at MLB, and I was unsure if Fokou would be a serviceable replacement. On Sunday, however, I was very encouraged by what I saw. The ‘backers were great in run defense and not too shabby in pass defense, either. Zach Brown was all over the field on his way to 8 tackles and 2 sacks. He picked up right where he left off at the end of last season.
Locker: They did not ask too much of him, which may be the M.O. for most of the year. It was an up and down performance that gave me more hope than doubt. When he was called on he made some beautiful throws on third and long. On the other hand, he had a couple of truly atrocious throws that served as a reminder of how far he needs to come from an accuracy standpoint. The Steelers defense is aging, but that secondary is no pushover. Let’s see how he does against Houston next week.
Receivers: I expect Dowell to come up with creative ways to get the ball in the hands of Kendall Wright more. He is our most explosive playmaker (sorry, CJ) and he was mostly non-existent throughout the day. Look for more screens and in-routes from him against Houston.
Overall, I am pleased. The issues we all expected were there and there will be times during the year that a better team will expose them a bit more. All in all, we went into a tough environment on Week One, against an Elite D and an Elite QB, and came out with a win.
I am excited to say – even if it is the only time I type it all year – the Titans are undefeated!