1. With Matt Hasselbeck leading the Titans this season, how has the mentality of the offense changed? Does he seem to take more leadership than Kerry Collins did? Do the players seem to buy into his ability as QB?
I can’t fully tell you the mentality within the huddle but the most remarkable change lies in the perception. As a fan, you can watch a game and understand what’s possible.
For instance, when you watch Tom Brady with under two minutes left in the 4th quarter, you know that it’s possible for Brady to guide the team into a score. It would almost be odd if he failed to do so. Well, with the Titans it has been the complete opposite. When Vince Young played, you thought there was a chance but it would be more of an oddity (don’t think rookie year) if Young were able to lead the team down and score a touchdown. Kerry Collins I don’t feel I really need to explain. It was hopeless.
Now, as a fan, there is the belief that it really is possible to win under that condition. Even more, the possibility exists that the team may dominate a game through the air. It’s been a while, to say the least, since a Titan fan truly believed that–without the Titans Blue sunglasses on.
2. The Texans and Titans are vying for the top spot in the AFC South. If the Titans were to lose this game how would that effect the mentality of the team? Would Mike Munchak have to reconsider the direction that the team is heading or would he continue to game plan the same way?
I don’t believe it would. Certainly the conditions of the loss would have a bearing in the event that the mentality were affected. Despite a big loss in their last game, this Titans squad has no reason to believe that their new coach hasn’t lead them down the right road. If anything, they could believe that through coaching they have been made a better team than their talent would otherwise dictate.
The only alteration that should be made to game planning would be more carries for the backup running backs, but that won’t happen. The oldest rule of the modern era of football applies here: Money plays.
3. Who has been more effective as a rookie this season Akeem Ayers or Jurrell Casey? Which, of the two, is more likely to cause the most trouble for the Texans this week? Why?
Ayers. You gave me an easy one, though I’m sure you could find someone to argue for Casey. Everyone sees games differently and I suppose that’s why some scouts are terrible, regardless, I’ll defend my case. Ayers has the potential to be the type of linebacker that can absolutely dominate a game. Off the top of my head, I can only think of roughly 10 linebackers that I could honestly place in that class.
So far, Ayers only has one sack in the stat column but don’t let that define his effectiveness throughout the game. I wouldn’t prefer to run toward him. He can also be effective pressuring the QB, so look for Defensive Coordinator Jerry Gray to try all types of exploitation on the Titans offensive line, using Ayers when possible.
4. The Texans and Titans have two of the best defenses in the league (Titans #9 and Texans #10). However, the Texans offense is far better than the Titans. That being said, what will the Titans need to do to defeat the Texans this Sunday? Do you think that the Texans are overrated now that they are missing so many key pieces (Mario Williams, Andre Johnson, James Casey)?
From everything I read, James Casey really began to come along strong for the Texans and obviously Williams and Johnson are two key pieces to the puzzle that every team in the league would have trouble replacing, whether for a few weeks or for the season.
It’s hard to believe the Texans make the playoffs this year. Repetition really leaves an impression, but it’s hard to say that any team is really under or over rated before week 10 or so, at least to me. What I’m saying is that both teams have only shown us a sample size of what they will become this season. In the end, I don’t believe that either defense will finish top-10 but I see both units as a top-15 ranking, when factoring both the run and the pass.
The Titans, ideally, would run the ball and we would watch the now ressurected Chris Johnson emerge from the shadows….but, that won’t happen. The Titans need to keep the Texans from making plays over 15 yards, they can’t allow those at all. Once the Texans get rolling on big plays, they keep them coming. The Titans also need to limit the run game of the Texans, which can also have a snowball effect and literally run you over.
On offense, the Titans need to find a guy at WR that will emerge to be the #2 this season. I don’t expect someone to emerge and be truly special, just consistent. Damian Williams would ideally fill that role, but only time will tell.
5. With the addition of S Danieal Manning and CB Johnathan Joseph, the Texans defense has done much better against the pass this season. Do the Titans plan to run the ball or should they focus more on attacking the Texans through the air? If they opt to run the ball more how effective do you see Chris Johnson being against the Texans front seven? If they opt for the pass who should Hasselbeck target most?
The Titans will probably feel much more comfortable passing than they would have had Mario Williams been available to play. I’m roughly familiar with Brooks Reed and feel as though he could make an impact, but at this point he’s still learning the game and the Titans have been great pass blocking this year–only 7 sacks allowed on Hasselbeck.
I imagine the game plan will be close to balance with a lean toward whatever is the most effective against the Texans defense and I imagine that will be through the air due to the effectiveness of the line in pass-blocking. The line doesn’t do as well in the run-blocking department and as you’ve heard–the run game doesn’t work too well in Tennessee.
*Also check out the answers that ToroTimes provided to Titan Sized’s questions.