Titans Post Mortem: Panthers Declawed

Before the game or during the game? Hard to tell in Charlotte.

 

I’m sure, dear reader, that you wondered why I didn’t post my game recap as soon as it happened. After all, a Titan blowout is an unexpected and rare thing, like a 100-yard rushing game from Chris Johnson or the thought of Matt Leinart as your new starting QB. I’ll tell you something. I don’t believe in things I can’t see, like fairies, werewolves, or Wolf Blitzer. On Sunday I watched the Red Zone and saw very little of the Titans game. It was over in the second quarter. Even the recent, painful memory of the Bengals’ loss didn’t deter me. OK, it deterred me a little.

So I’ll take my trusty NFL Game Rewind and check out the game. Let’s see what we see.

Seriously, it’s weird that the Titans have two of their biggest, point wise anyway, wins on the road. The Browns game looked even because before they played the Titans, the Browns had the whiff of an up-and-coming squad. The Panthers, despite a 2-6 record, played close in every game. It all fell apart on Sunday.

I came into this game absolutely terrified of Cam Newton and Steve Smith. I see that fans of the Panthers were not afraid of the Titans, as they showed up dressed as empty seats. I noticed that in the Jags game as well.

DeAngelo Williams gets a carry, and promptly comes off the field. The opening three and out is surprisingly weak. When I heard the Panthers had bad special teams, I thought Mariani had a chance to break one. He returns the punt for a touchdown. Mariani had to make one step to his left and pretty much went straight down the sidelines. Finnegan had the task of blocking the punter. Will his agent show this special-teams play when negotiating what should be a fat new contract in the offseason?

The Panthers look much better in black. The seats are not so good in teal.

DeAngelo Williams got the start and didn’t see the field again for six plays. That’s money, well, spent.

The Panthers drove down the field aided in part by an illegal contact penalty on Ayers that took away an interception. Greg Olsen fumbled the ball inside the ten-yard line. That’s the defense I remember, bending long enough to get the big play.

Chris Johnson runs a wheel route and no one follows him. That or #59 is really slow. Every Titan fan knows what I mean when we saw CJ with one man to beat and we could bet the mortgage that he wasn’t going to make that guy miss. Yep.

Damian Williams catches a short out pattern, gets to the outside and there’s no defense. The defense and special teams are just plain bad. I did like seeing Jared Cook getting involved in a normal offensive drive and not just the two-minute stuff.

Blitzing Newton on first down? Brilliant.

Is he in a beer commercial? Nope, that's the rookie symposium.

 

Oh yeah, I saw Hasselbeck roll right and throw it to CJ left. You better believe Chris Palmer saw the Texans kill the Titans on that play. CJ gets tackled by a defensive lineman after he took longer to decide how he was going to make the move than I do waiting for my lunch to warm up in the microwave. Only slightly exaggerating. 17-0 Titans.

Titans kick out of bounds. The D seems to know what the Panthers are up to because there’s another blitz and it works again. They’re confusing young Cam.

Impressive. After a holding call, the RB falls down on consecutive screen passes. That’s a work of art.

CJ’s not getting big yards early in the game, but the team keeps going to him.

It’s the Daniel Graham gets called for holding drinking game! Everyone do a shot.

The Titans are winning this game in all phases. Offense, defense, special teams, and holding penalties.

In the first half, I didn’t see any of the downfield throwing game by the Panthers. Newton didn’t even take too many shots. As soon as I write that, Olsen’s hit with a laser throw. Newton’s scramble to get the team in field goal range was a thing of beauty.

Panthers fail on the onside kick from the 50 to start the second half. The Titans most certainly do not get cute by giving CJ a couple of outside runs.

Finnegan’s getting paid. He ran down Newton for a sack and there was no escape. If the Titans are guessing when to blitz, it’s working.

After returning the opening punt for a touchdown, the Titans got called for something on almost every punt after that.

Hass throws a bad interception. We assume that Avery cut in when he was supposed to cut out. Other than one pass interference penalty, we’ve seen nothing to show that Avery’s a Titan in 2012. Defense gets a sack right away.

You don’t hear this very often about Titan wideouts, but Damian Williams is showing us something. He’s actually a useable fantasy player now. Titans drive and nullify the Panthers’ field goal with one of their own.

One thing I saw with Newton is that he was able to get out of the pocket on some scrambles but he couldn’t make the first down. The field must not have been in great condition, as guys were slipping all over the place.

Steve Smith makes a great catch to move the sticks. Less than ten minutes to go and he has maybe 30 receiving yards total. The defense did its job.

Loved seeing Roos getting out there for the lead block. You can tell that the Panthers were done.

When Hasselbeck says that he slid down at the one-yard line because he had Chris Johnson on his fantasy team, I believe it.

Note: Beanie Wells has more touchdowns in one game (3) than Chris Johnson has this year. Think about it. Did you get an ice cream headache yet?

I sure hope that Colin McCarthy is the Titans’ MLB for the rest of the year. He almost picked off a screen pass.

Steve Smith gets the wrestling style takedown on a screen pass. Frustration? A bit.

My take? That was good. Putting together the same performance this week against a somewhat demoralized Falcons team would go a long way. We won’t know if the Matt Schaub injury is a big deal for at least another week. The Titans really can’t win a tiebreaker for the division and they have lost all their games in conference, so to win the division they need to overtake the Texans, not just beat them. So, it’s time for the Texans to start beating themselves while the Titans continue to make their way through the NFC South.

 

 

 

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