With great anticipation and nervousness I prepared myself for the opening of the 2014 season on Sunday. So many questions would have answers becoming clearer.
- Would Jake Locker step up into the player we think he can be?
- Would this defense look like the one that couldn't stop an opening drive in the preseason, or would they finally show us Ray Horton's plan realized?
- Who would step up in the running game?
- Would Ryan Succop show us he is better than both Bonani and Coons?
- and so on...
After the game on Sunday we can only hope this wasn't as illusion.
Jake Locker was more than efficient (22/33 266 yds 2 TD; 6 car 14 yds). He did a nice job of finding the open receiver on 3rd down. He was also smart in the times he chose to take off and run. Locker still needs to work on his accuracy a little. In the first half he was throwing the ball too high and in the second half he tended to throw it too low. That being said, in both cases he threw it where his receivers could get to the ball.
"Runningback by Committee" seem to really work for the Titans. Shonn Greene led the way with 15 carries for 71 yards. Whether it was Dexter McCluster, Bishop Sankey, or Greene, the result tended to be the same... positive yards, in chunks.
On offense, what impressed me most is how we were able to sustain drives at key points in the game. Although, our 3rd down percentage was only 43% (7/16), we got it when we needed it. I will say that we need to convert some of those field goals into touchdowns. If this game would have been closer, that could have been a serious issue.
On defense, I can't believe that I'm saying this, but it didn't feel like the team was out of position. We got fantastic play from our defensive backs, especially Jason McCourty (2 INTs) and outstanding play from bubble players like Derrick Morgan. Shutting down Jamal Charles and making the Chiefs regret giving that big contract to Alex Smith were just 2 of the good things that made me happy on the day. However, the biggest thing to me was getting the Chiefs off the field on 3rd down. The Chiefs were only 8% (1/12).
The special teams came up huge too (with one exception and even that was saved). Ryan Succop came up huge with kicks of 36, 31, 46, and 47. I bet he was laughing the entire time. Brett Kern came up huge in the right moments, pinning the Chiefs deep on the 2 yard line at one time. Quite possibly the biggest play of the game came when Leon Washington fumbled kickoff and Coty Sensabaugh was able to jump on it to keep the ball in our hands.
Next up, can the Titans make us believers by beating the Cowboys.