Washington fans don't get to see the Redskins' next opponent, the Tennessee Titans, very often Both teams are off disappointing losses and need a win. Redskins Hog Heaven reached out to our long-time blogger colleague, Andrew Strickert who covers the Titans for Bloguin's Total Titans site, for the scoop on Tennessee. Here are his answers to my questions. Enjoy.
Titans MVP for offense, defense, special teams?
Offense - Chris Johnson is third in the league in rushing. Forget about Vince Young; this is CJ's team.
Defense - FS Michael Griffin is a legitimate Pro Bowl candidate this year. He's playing well after a poor 2009.
Special teams - Rob Bironas has made 16 of 17 FG attempts. Co-MVP is KR/PR Marc Mariani, who has given the team a boost which they didn't have last year.
Unsung hero for 2010?
Journeyman DE Jason Babin was not even expected to be a starter. He's provided a good edge rush, starting all nine games and registering seven sacks.
Titans and Redskins were rumored to be engaged in trade talks for Albert Haynesworth; Titans offered a fourth-round pick; Redskins wanted second-round plus another pick. What does Jeff Fisher have to see from Haynesworth to offer multiple picks?
I don't think the Titans needed (or valued) Albert enough to pay what other teams might have offered. They're already pretty solid at the DT position (when healthy) with Tony Brown (great name, right?), who was the Titans' best defensive player last year, and with a pair of young second-round draft picks in Jason Jones and Sen'Derrick Marks.
In my opinion, Fisher and GM Mike Reinfeldt would have to see something they've never seen before from Albert - a full season of him playing hard in a non-contract year. It's been their experience that Albert only plays hard when he feels like it. I'm sure you've seen plenty of the Bad Albert - showing up overweight and out of shape (by his own admission) after getting paid, taking plays off, laying down on the field with imaginary injuries.
How has the Titans' defensive pass pressure changed with Haynesworth's departure?
It really suffered at the beginning of last year, when the Titans couldn't muster a consistent pass rush, which contributed greatly to the 0-6 start. Tony Brown, who moved over from LDT to Albert's spot at RDT, has been the Titans' best interior pass rusher and DT Jason Jones can also be very good when healthy. This year, the Titans have been fortunate to be getting a much improved edge rush from DEs Jason Babin and Dave Ball.
Though the pass rush is better this year than last, there's still one big difference since Albert left. Albert's play frequently required opponents to double-team him and that hasn't happened since he left two years ago.
One last thing to note is that while the Titans still don't blitz that often, it does seem to be more frequent now. Defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil actually blitzed a lot in one game, something Titans fans haven't seen since Gregg Williams was here. Former DC Jim Schwartz was content to rely on the front four for a pass rush, which is fine if you have the personnel to do it.
Safe to say the Titans made the right pick with Vince Young instead of Matt Leinart or Jay Cutler. Has he made the case to be the Titans' franchise quarterback?
Well, the answer is yes in the minds of many fans. However, Jeff Fisher doesn't seem to think so. When the Titans struggled at the beginning of last year, he continued to start Kerry Collins, insisting he gave the Titans the best chance to win. Owner Bud Adams eventually demanded that Young start and Fisher resisted that as long as he could. However, he finally gave in and did Adams' bidding after the record fell to 0-6 with the 59-0 loss at New England.
Still, Fisher tries to play Collins when he can. Last week, for example, Vince missed some practice time during the week due to knee and ankle problems, so Fisher started Collins as a "gametime decision" which most people think had already been decided several days before. Earlier this season, he benched Young during the Steelers game, partly because Vince was ineffective. We later learned that Fisher considered VY to be insufficiently prepared after missing two meetings that week. One meeting he missed was an excused absence but he was late getting back afterwards.
Vince has one year remaining on his contract, the time most teams will offer their quarterback an extension if they believe in him. It's my opinion that Fisher will not give his endorsement to extending VY at this time. It's harder to predict how Reinfeldt feels but I get the sense he's with Fisher on this one. Of course, Adams will make the call on this, with input from Fisher and Reinfeldt. Unless Vince really lights it up in the last seven games, I think the Titans wait another season before deciding on him, especially with a possible lockout next year.
What's the best to be expected of Randy Moss this season? Will Moss and Kenny Britt (when healthy) be on the field at the same time, or will Fisher rotate the two?
It looks like Britt may be out for another month, which puts his return at around Week 15, so the regular season may be over by the time he's back to top form. I'd love to see Moss and Britt on the field together and when Britt is healthy again I expect each of them to get over 50% of the plays. They'll both rotate, of course, with Nate Washington getting the next most work. Rookie third-round draft pick Damian Williams is starting to see more playing time and may factor more into this as the season progresses.
Moss has already done something Britt wasn't able to. He drew double coverage from the Dolphins, taking the eighth man out of the box and giving Chris Johnson more room to run. That's something Britt couldn't accomplish, even after a five-game scoring streak with seven TDs. As long as Moss can continue to give CJ more running room, I'm all for him being on the field as much as possible. It will be even better after he catches a bomb or two, and Vince throws a good deep ball.
How should the Redskins attack the Titans defense?
Teams have enjoyed a lot of success throwing to running backs. I'd make that prominent in my gameplan. Lately, tight ends have done well too. Antonio Gates hurt the Titans badly. He's done that to a lot of teams but he did it to the Titans when he was at considerably less than 100%. Last week, Anthony Fasano looked like an All-Pro. Chris Cooley should be drooling after watching film of the last two Titans games and Fred Davis could get in on the action too.
The Titans have given up a lot of yards in the passing game. Part of that is because of the teams they've faced - the Giants, Broncos, Cowboys, Eagles and Chargers - who all have high-octane aerial attacks. I'd throw deep at least once on rookie Alterraun Verner, who doesn't have good speed, when he's out at corner (he moves inside when the Titans go to nickel.) I'd also try to get SS Chris Hope to bite on play action. Could be like taking candy from a baby.
The Titans have had problems getting off the field on third down, especially in the second half of the last two games. If the Skins can get a running game going in the second half, it could make the difference.
Game prediction and score?
Moss was targeted only four times last week (one catch for 26 yards and drew one PI flag) and I expect that to change. Look for several more passes thrown his way and several more receptions, one for a score. We know Albert can be a real difference-maker when he wants to play and I have no doubt he'll be motivated for this game. The Titans have had problems running against some 3-4 defenses, but not all. Other than the AH matchup, I believe the Titans o-line matches up fairly well against the Redskins and Chris Johnson can add 100 yards and a score.
BONUS QUESTION: Who takes the division, Tennessee or Indianapolis?
It looks like the two AFC wildcards will come out of the East and North. The Patriots, Jets, Ravens and Steelers are all in good position to make the playoffs, which means only the division winner in the South will advance to postseason play. It will probably come down to the two head to head games in Weeks 14 and 17. The Titans are a game behind the Colts now and the Week 17 matchup, if it comes to that, will be in Indy. Given all that, most people believe the division winner will probably be the Colts. However, this wouldn't be the best Titans blog if we went along with that thinking like a herd of sheep blindly following each other over the edge of a cliff. The Titans will take the division, of course.
Thank you, Andrew. Redskins Hog Heaven answered Total Titans' questions about the Redskins. You will find the link to the story here. Go take a look. We'll be here when you get back.