When the Titans head to Houston this afternoon, it will be a battle of desperation. The Titans and Texans started the season with such promise and now look at the high probability that one of them will finish last in the AFC South. It’s the kind of result that gets coaches fired, or coordinators as scapegoats. The Titans are in a tough spot with a rookie QB and a team reeling from last week’s on and off the field soap opera. Mike Heimerdinger will coordinate despite taking part of the week off to start cancer treatments. Yeah, I’d say that Titan fans are a long way from the post bye new car smell feel they had right after the bye week.
The Titans can win. The Texans have no pass defense and crumble like day-old bread at the first sign of pressure. Here’s what needs to happen for the Titans to win:
1. Randy Moss gets ten targets. Rusty Smith targeted Moss three times in about two quarters of action. Moss needs to get involved early. Shall I suggest a wide receiver screen to start things?
2. Chris Johnson needs 15 touches in the first half. This depends on how the defense performs, of course. After his giant early season workload things have eased off. Note how the Titans have done in those two games.
3. Rusty Smith needs easy reads. If we believe what Fisher leaks to the press, Vince Young needed a scaled-down playbook, so this shouldn’t be too difficult.
4. Marc Mariani needs to make a play. I can’t ask for a touchdown, but continuing his field-position-shifting ways would be nice. Titan special teams have been excellent this year.
5. Take chances. Go for it on fourth down a couple of times. The team doesn’t have to go all-in but there needs to be a sense of urgency.
6. The defense needs to create turnovers. Verner’s almost-interception in OT was the kind of play the defense made routinely before the bye. The Texans can’t have sustained drives or the depleted defensive line will wilt.
7. If the front four can’t get pressure like last week, you have to blitz. The Titans barely touched McNabb last week. Schaub is going to complete more than 60% of his passes with all day to throw.
8. Key on Foster. The Redskins had a great day running the ball. The Texans have an All-Pro back. This is not a good matchup.
9. No matter how Rusty does, do not put Chris Simms in the game. His job is to look interested when Heimerdinger talks to Rusty between offensive series. Simms = gasoline on fire.
10. If all else fails, run on the field in Colts uniforms. It worked for Fisher last year.