In last week’s victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Titans looked like a team coached by a Hall of Fame offensive lineman – running the ball on 42 of their 62 plays, throwing the Steelers defense for a bit of a loop as they ran to a 16 to 9 victory.
It was a bit out of the norm to see a team take step into the past and go run-heavy, but it worked – and the Titans say they’re going to continue to do that, because NFL Defenses aren’t used to it.
“Defenses aren’t as used to it,” coach Mike Munchak said about his game plan via The Tennessean. “I think defenses get more work rushing the passer. It seems like offenses are all about 300 yards passing and scoring.”
A pass-happy league, the NFL saw more yards thrown, more pass attempts and more touchdown passes in the first week of the season than has ever been done in a single week. The Titans weren’t part of that, attempting a mere 20 passes in their opener.
“I just think when teams don’t work against something, and they don’t see a lot of running, they’re maybe not as good at it,” Said Munchak. “We’ll see how it goes. We’ll do whatever it takes to win.”
A quick glance at Jake Locker’s stats show he had a pretty pedestrian day, but the running attack from Tennessee kept his numbers low. Pounding the ball was working and they weren’t going to risk it. He completed 11 of his 20 passes for 125 yards and knows it’s not the way the league is leaning, but it works.
“It’s a little different than what the majority of the league is doing,” Locker said. “Whether it’s tougher or not, I don’t really know from a game-plan standpoint. But I do believe that the run and pass feed off each other, so when you’re able to do both really well, it gives defenses more to think about.”
It’s good news for running back Chris Johnson, whom has underachieved since signing a four-year, $53.5 million contract in 2011. The Titans seemed to shy away from the run after drafting Locker in the first round, and now it’s back to the basics. Johnson is happy with the way things are going in Tennessee with a top-ten (I know, it’s still early) running attack, and the Titans focusing on the offensive line in the draft.
After drafting Chance Warmack with the 10th overall pick, Johnson tweeted “THANK GOD” just seconds after the selection was read. The team also focused on bettering the line during Free Agency, acquiring Andy Levitre and Rob Turner.
The Titans face the Texans this week, and with a front-seven that Houston brings to the table, it will be interesting to see if the Titans can slow the attack and stick to the ground game or air it out.
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Down and Distance Editor-in-Chief – Justin Arbogast @NFLGuy_SK