You can get excited.
As I’m sure you’ve heard 100 times by now, our beloved Titans are 4-0 for the first time ever (!). This is most definitely a cause for celebration.
[This wonderful start has been made even sweeter compared to the disaster that has been the 2008 University of Tennessee Football season. That’s all I’m going to say about UT; it hurts too much to talk about it more.]
When the Redskins beat the Cowboys yesterday the only team which has looked consistently dominant through four weeks dropped back into the pack. In a season where no team has distinguished itself as best-in-class isn’t it easy to see this Titan team grinding its way to the top? Sure, the Cowboys are good. The Steelers will most likely bounce back. The same could be said for the Colts and Jags. But the point is that the Titans are right there man. Any conversation about the best teams in the NFL today has to include our boys in blue.
It is even better in division. As of today the Titans enjoy a 2 game lead over the Jaguars and 3 games over the Colts (alongside a 48 game advantage over the Texans). As already mentioned, Indy could indeed get better and the Jags won the 2nd meeting with the Titans last year after loosing the first. Granting all that, the Titans most definitely control their own destiny and that is a position we’re not accustomed to enjoying.
I’m so giddy I’m even going to ease up on the Collins criticism. He did a great job yesterday of not trying to be great. He simply moved the ball down the field where the defense was weak (that weakness generally being CB Cedric Griffin). Kerry playing game-manager doesn’t appear to be nearly as bad as Kerry playing integral role in the offense.
The situation is better than we could have hoped for. There a few qualifiers but by and large this is a sweeter day than any Titans fans can remember.
Quickly, the qualifiers:
1. There is still a lot of season in front of us. Despite what the Lions and Rams would lead you to believer, NFL coaches are good at what they do. It is entirely possible that one (or more) of the remaining 12 Titans opponents figure the Titans out to some degree.
2. The leading candidate to reveal itself as the Titans’ Achilles heel is still the passing game. Kerry Collins has already been much better than I had hoped. In fact, the WRs seem to have found some life when he’s behind center. That doesn’t take away from the fact that we have no legitimate deep threat. The ceiling on passing plays for the Titans is approximately 25 yards and that length is only reached once every other blue moon. I anticipate this becoming a factor; mitigating the consequences will be key.
3. Tied right in to number 2 is the fact that Kerry Collins is largely immobile in the pocket. The play of the Titans O-line has allowed Kerry to be the best Kerry he can be and here’s to hoping the trend continues. I have a suspicion, however, that an athletic, intelligent, veteran defense (like the Ravens next week) will pin their ears back and come at Collins over and over. Kerry can’t get out of the way and the Titans don’t have a deep threat. The Titans will have to depend on the O-line and the draw play to take the heat off. I know our Offensive linemen are top notch but they can only block so many people. Considering it could be the Ravens who expose the Titans in this area makes my stomach hurt.
Still, the feel-good vibe coming across the river from The Coliseum remains. Let’s say that Baltimore comes in and does just what I’ve said. The Titans would be 5-1 going into the by week with Kansas City waiting when they return. If I could have told you at the beginning of the season the Titans would be 6-1 going into their home game against Indy late in October what would your reaction have been? What if I added we’d be leading the division with wins over Jacksonville and Houston while Jacksonville had already beaten the Colts?
I for one might have broken out in Riverdance.
There’s no guarantee the Titans will even make the playoffs, let alone win their division. However, we’re setting pretty four games in, prettier than we ever have. It’s hard not to think of 1999 from this position. The only thing I can say is drink it Titans fan; this is new ground for us. There is no guarantee it will last but that is no reason not to revel in what we have while it is here. 4-0 means our favorite team has earned us the right to saturate ourselves in the pleasure rooting for a very good team brings.
As an addendum, I went to the Vikings/Titans game yesterday so here are some post game thoughts:
1. Paul Kuharsky has lost his mind. We know this because he asked if Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson are comparable. He seems to conclude no but to even ask the question is laughable. However, his article does provide the most accurate player comparison for Chris Johnson, courtesy of none other than Kerry Collins:
'He's got as many skills as anybody I've played with, including Tiki [Barber],’ Kerry Collins said. ‘He just gives you that burst, gives you that speed that just comes along every so often. He's a football player. He's got all the physical skills, no doubt about it. But the guy's also got a knack for knowing what to do with the ball.’There you go! The Westbrook comparison never squared with me because Chris Johnson plays bigger between the tackles than Westbrook, not to mention that Johnson’s receiving skills – while good – aren’t in the same league as Westbrook’s. You also can’t compare Johnson to Reggie Bush because Johnson is already a better running back than Reggie Bush; Bush’s receiving abilities also outpacing Johnson’s. The Tiki comparison is spot on; he was fine running the ball (contra Reggie Bush) but could be used out of the backfield as a receiver (like Chris Johnson) but wasn’t quite the receiver Brian Westbrook is. Way to go Kerry. At this rate I’ll be opening a Collins fan group on Facebook.
Speaking of Chris Johnson, the guys at Music City Miracles have taken to calling him Crazylegs and I like it. I’m calling for an official adoption: Chris Johnson = Crazylegs. Let it be written.
I noticed yesterday at the game that LenDale White was introduced as the starting running back and gave one of the best intro performances of the day. It was sort of like Ray Lewis’ Murderer’s Twitch dance but LenDale added something from Triple-H’s playbook when he spewed water into the air. However, after introduced LenDale as the starting running back the Titans proceeded to give Chris Johnson the first [eight] carries of the ball game. Interesting, no?
2. Before the game my friend Kenny and I at the Big River Grille on Broadway. It’s not a bad place to take in a pre-game meal. The stadium is within viewing distance and the food is good. I only bring this up because I want to introduce a story about something Kenny observed. When I returned from a bathroom trip Kenny told me he had been watching a guy out of our booth’s window. This guy had been sitting on a street bench for sometime before he started talking excitedly to no one in particular. Once he had commenced chatting with the invisible he abruptly stood up, reached into his trousers, and began pulling his underwear out piece by piece. Once this task was completed he walked hurriedly down the street toward the river. After recounting these events to me Kenny went on his own restroom journey. I found out later that the stall he had chosen contained another discarded pair of underwear, these being thoroughly soiled. When we left the restaurant and headed toward the stadium we passed the underwear-ripper who was gazing across the water laughing hysterically. Kenny’s theory is that the gentlemen discovered his underwear were haunted and had a good laugh after putting the ghosts in the trashcan. The only thing I could definitively conclude is that underwear was much too great a factor in Kenny’s trip to see the Titans.
3. What gives with the Titans fans booing? This is beneath us and should stop posthaste. Yesterday our fans, including the section I set in, booed Gus Frerotte when he went down in the fourth quarter. I said to my section “You are booing a guy who got hurt!?!?” and thankfully no one threw a beer on me. What I was told is “Well, we’re booing because he’s faking.” His subsequent return to the game appeared to justify booing the dirty faker. Arriving home, I queued up my DVR and fast-forwarded to Frerotte’s injury on the recording. Clearly Vanden Bosch hit Frerotte late. Not only was it late but the hit landed in Gus’ groin courtesy of Vanden Bosch’s helmet. Show me the man who can take a football helmet to the crotch and not need a few minutes and I’ll show you… someone I doubt is a man. The lesson, as always: STOP BOOING! We have more class than that.
4. Far be it from me to perpetuate the Vince Young drama but I’ve got to include a note about our once and perhaps future QB. I sat near some gentlemen with binoculars who gave our section their observations on Vince’s sideline behavior. These fellows told us Vince was standing away from everyone else, perhaps listening to the chatter between the OC and Collins. One of them remarked – much to his own delight – that Vince probably wasn’t listening to the play call but rather “Nelly or Little Wayne.” I rolled my eyes and went back to watching the game. Now Kuharsky is reporting basically the same thing I heard from the guys with the binoculars and it is all quite depressing. I’ve said it before: I’m a Vince guy. I still think he represents the best of the Titans QB depth chart. Even being firmly on the Vince bandwagon this is getting hard to stomach. I realize that there is no real way for us to accurately interpret just what Vince’s behavior on the sideline means or what impact it carries with the team. What we can say is that standing apart from your team never looks good and feeds into Vince’s image problems.
Going solely on what I read on Titans message boards and the conversations in the stands it appears that the fan base’s attitude toward Vince has reached toxicity. I didn’t hear a good word all day about Vince on site and the conversation online doesn’t provide much better. I really don’t see light at the end of the tunnel unless Vince will specifically address the fan base, profess his love for them and the game, apologize for the events of the past several weeks, and then go out and play well. I know that is next to impossibility. I don’t even think this is necessarily what Vince should do. I just don’t see how anything less will reconcile Titans fans to Vince. This whole thing remains one of the saddest set of circumstances between a player and his team’s fans that I can remember. I hate that it has come to this.