Hargrove: Titans back to old selves
BY ANNABELLA HARGROVE • SPECIAL TO THE DNJ • November 18, 2009
In the words of former pro wrestling superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Finally the Titans have come back to domination alley.”
Indeed, the Titans are back to their winning ways, and they look more like last season’s 10-0 team than the 0-6 team we were exposed to at the start of this season. No one, including a plethora of expert analysts, expected the Titans to be an 0-6 team, not with the majority of their starters returning to the roster.
With a 41-17 win over the pitiable Buffalo Bills last Sunday, the Titans are riding the waves of a 3-0 winning streak. But cynics may challenge just how successful those wins really were.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills are three teams that have been less than impressive this season. The Bills (five) and 49ers (seven) are among two of three NFL teams with the least amount of 10-plus play drives, while the Titans rank second among all NFL teams in rushing yards per game with an average of 161.8.
This is where the argument could bear merit — if the roles were reversed, and the Titans had lost their last three games rather than winning them— trouble would have been a sobering understatement. On the other hand, Titans connoisseurs everywhere have noticed the subtle differences that have contributed to the radical change of pace on the field.
The Titans’ secondary has taken the bulk of the blame in terms of the defense’s poor playing this season. But when you don’t have a good pass rush, it leaves the secondary vulnerable and overworked. Since returning from his injury, defensive tackle Jason Jones has proven to be an invaluable asset in the defenses 4-3 scheme.
In each of the last three games, Jones has created havoc for opposing team quarterbacks by putting his big paw up and deflecting potentially dangerous passes down field. Against the Bills this past Sunday, several passes were deflected by the rotating front four in Tennessee.
There is an air of confidence that was lacking during the first six weeks. And with help from the front four, the secondary has once again found their swagger, recording seven interceptions in the last three games after just four in the first six.
The addition of free agent Roderick Hood at cornerback has certainly created a boost in the secondary. He has played in only four games since being signed by the Titans, but has at least one interception in three of the four games he’s appeared.
The remainder of their schedule isn’t going to be an easy one, traveling to face AFC South rivals Houston Texans on Monday and the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 6. This is where we find out what the mighty Titans are truly made. But for now, we can lay back, hands behind our heads, hovering above cloud nine.
Pro football enthusiast Annabella Hargrove resides in Murfreesboro. E-mail her at AnnabellaHargrove@gmail.com