Titans vs. Vikings Take Two

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistOctober 8, 2012

Johnson stiff-arms the air. The air still made the tackle.
Johnson stiff-arms the air. The air still made the tackle.Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

If there is any consolation in Tennessee after the Titans' 30-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, it's that things can't get any worse.

They are already as bad as they can possibly get.

A second look at the tape from the Week 5 debacle shows just how far Tennessee has to go to get back into the win column.

The Real Story

The Titans have two very different problems, one on each side of the football.

On offense, Matt Hasselbeck just isn't as good as Jake Locker. The difference between the two is visible. Hasselbeck looks like he's running an offense built for someone else's talents, because he is.

He doesn't move as well as Locker and can't generate big plays like Locker does. As long as he's in at quarterback, there are hard and fast limits to how good the Titans can be.

On defense, Tennessee lacks dynamic talent. They generate almost no pass rush. They had repeated opportunities to intercept balls, and while they came up with a couple, the number could have been higher.

The Vikings aren't a great team. They have a few talented offensive players, though, and the Titans just had no answer for them.

Simply put, Tennessee doesn't look like a well-constructed ball club, and they got beat by a solid team, playing at home that has an identity.


Kendall Wright has had some rough games recently, but he did good for Tennessee with some nice catches and good fight.

It's difficult to come up with anyone else who stood out, but Jordan Babineaux deserves credit for his nice interception.


Can we just name this "The Chris Johnson Memorial Goat Award"? Once again, Johnson was miserable running the football, and this week he added a fumble to his litany of sins.

Hasselbeck was similarly bad, but not so much in "goat form" as much as in "this guy is a backup quarterback" form.

As for the defense that allowed 30 points to Vikings, it's hard to pin the blame on any one player. As a unit, they are simply playing bad football. They blow assignments; they miss tackles.

Even more than what does show up on the tape, what doesn't show up speaks volumes. There simply aren't enough explosive, game-changing plays from the defense.

The Secret Play

The Titans' first drive crossed the Vikings 40-yard line. Tennessee faced a 2nd-and-3, and the ball was handed off to Chris Johnson.

Johnson decided not to go wide left, but instead bounced the play inside where he was met by a linebacker for no gain.

Johnson is allergic to following his blocks and running to where the play is designed to go. On the ensuing third down, Hasselbeck took a sack and an early scoring threat was snuffed out.

Coaching Notes

Mike Munchak did his best to keep his team in the game.

He was too conservative in punting from the Minnesota 47 early in the game on 4th-and-4, but did go for it in Titans' territory on the next drive.

He also called for an excellent onside-kick try early in the fourth quarter. The Titans nearly recovered the ball trailing 23-7. It was likely their only shot to win, so the coach deserves credit for the strategy.

Keep an Eye On

Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray has been running his mouth more than his defense. Gray has been outspoken about his team pushing the edge of the rules, and according to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, his distasteful comments have drawn the attention of the league office.

With the Titans giving up at least 30 points for the fifth consecutive game, Gray has to be under serious pressure.

The Titans have a late bye week, and if things don't get better over the next few games, the team may need to consider replacing him.


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