We at Fanspeak.com picked the Tennessee Titans to go 6-10 in all of our NFL Preseason Previews. But we acknowledge the Titans are a team that can go either way this season, and a lot depends on the development of their young gun, QB Jake Locker.
But today, the Titans pulled off a major upset in Pittsburgh, defeating the Steelers 16-9. And the biggest reason was the performance of their defense. But now let’s look at 5 reasons why we and the rest of the NFL should not be so shocked by the Titans upset on Sunday:
While the offense didn’t light the world on fire by any means, they did one key thing…they did not turn the ball over. They didn’t ask Jake Locker to do too much and they played smart. This was so important on the road against such a tough defense.
In the NFL, most teams that win turnover battles, win games. And most teams that win turnover battles throughout the course of the season find themselves in the postseason. So if the Titans can continue to play smart, and not ask Locker to do too much, that could be a key ingredient to building on Week 1 success.
While Chris Johnson and the running game didn’t put up huge numbers, they controlled the clock. Once the Titans got the lead, CJ & co. was instrumental in keeping Big Ben and the Steelers offense off the field. These kind of games aren’t always pretty, but the record is all that matters, not how it looked. If the Titans can build on this performance and have a strong rushing attack this season, they will eat up the clock to keep some high powered offenses on the sidelines.
The Steelers had no running game today with 32 yards rushing. The Titans defense was impressive all around today, but one thing that really stood out was their ability to stop the run. A key to a good defense is the ability to stop the run and turn a team to being one dimensional.
With the Titans taking away the Steelers running game, they were able to focus on getting pressure on the quarterback. In addition to the 5 sacks, the had Roethlisberger under pressure all day and he never looked comfortable in the pocket. If they can continue to both stop the run and get after the QB, they are going to consistently cause turnovers.
The Titans game in with a smart game plan knowing that they weren’t going to be able to beat the Steelers in a high scoring game. Offensively they kept things simple for Locker and allowed him to use his mobility a little bit. Locker did a good job not trying to force the ball that would lead to costly turnovers. Defensively the Titans took advantage of the Steelers injuries at running back and along the offensive line by controlling the line of scrimmage and forcing the Steelers to play the Titans game plan and not their own.
Coach Mike Munchak was one of the coaches most people mentioned when talking about coaches on the “hot seat”. If he keeps this game planning up, he’ll definitely have the same place of employment next year.