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Titans Week 14

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    Hey Norm.

    Hey.

    Watcha doin'?

    Pounding.

    Uhh.... okay. That makes sense. I guess.

    It's pretty simple. I have this square peg and I've been sitting here pounding it into a board with a round hole.

    That's stupid. How long have you been doing that?

    Several months now.

    Is it working?

    Not really. I mean, it looks like it might fit, but then it never does. Willful little peg.

    Whack!

    Why are you even trying then?

    Jeff told me to.

    That's even dumber. Does he realize how badly it's going?

    Yeah. He knows.

    Well what did he say?

    He said to get a bigger hammer. Maybe a ball-peen. At this point I don't think a fucking sledge hammer would work. I can't tell him that though. You know how he gets.

    Yeah. Why'd you pick a sqare peg then?

    Whack!

    We didn't. Bud did. He likes this one.

    Yeah that's tough. Why don't you whittle down the peg a little and round out the hole, you know, meet halfway.

    Hell if I know. I just work here. Besides, there's only three weeks left.

    What about some grease or something then, you know, smooth out the process.

    We tried. All we could find was Mike Williams.

    Ouch. So you're just going to sit there pounding for no reason? That's retarded. You might as well give up.

    What do you call running on first down 10 times in a row?

    Whack!

    Gotcha.

Since most of you didn't get to see the game let me warn you, the fourth quarter was painful. Really painful. Think making out with Ricki Lake while passing a kidney stone with one of those little worms from Wrath of Kahn drilling into your ear while Marques Slocum whispers Shakespeare into the other ear while a Jared Jewelry commercial plays on a continuous loop in the background (He went to Jared!). Easily the most painful loss this season. I wouldn't watch the replay unless you have some hydrocodone syrup or a DEA number with some room left on it. But first:

A Trivia Question: Name something that is 1500 miles away that I care nothing about.

Cuba.

Good guess.

France.

Too far away. Still a good guess.

Rick Perry's mind.

Wow. Existential. And also true. But no I was going for either Green Bay or Oakland. They're roughly the same distance away and have roughly the same impact on my desire to watch television, being absolutely zero. If the game was on in a room full of Tri-Delts with a margarita machine I might check it out. I wrote to KEYE requesting a room full of Tri-Delts and a margarita machine but they didn't get back to me, so I ended up at a sports bar which amounted to roughly the same thing- with the added bonus that Dierdorf and Gumbel were muted. I can only begin to imagine the swing in grandstanding that happened in the fourth quarter. If I'd been subjected to listening to those two chortling goiters in addition to the collapse on the field it truly would have been the final straw.

fred

It was a 14 point lead Elizabeth... I cain't take it no more honey... I'm comin' home

For the Austin folks who didn't get to see it, we moved the ball at times but couldn't convert third downs, I think we were 2/10 at one point. We also had trouble in the red zone until the third quarter, including a missed FG, so it was 3-0 at the half and 17-3 by the end of the third. On the other side we completely shut down their run game and had Rivers absolutely running for his life. Albert was almost back to old form and the rest of the Dline was teeing off- the play on the ground was much more dominating than the score, especially in the first half. Harper and Griffin were ballhawking and we were laying out their WR's and actually knocked Gates out for awhile. It was awesome. At 17-3 it should have been over.

Rivers had a quarterback rating of 10 at one point. Actually that's being too harsh. It was 10.4. Think about that for a second. Even with two picks that's hard to pull off. He made Carr seem competent and popular by comparison. Not only that, but his team mates were done with him as well- they were broken. He got hit on a rollout at one point and flopped around on the field like a wounded deer for awhile and no one even bothered to help him up. Even I was yelling "Just sit down man...". LaDanian wouldn't sit next to him on the bench. I think Norv flipped him off from the sidelines at one point, then made the Billick kissy face when he noticed. Mike Vick called him to ask if it was cool if he didn't hang out with him anymore, for image reasons. When Rivers did go out they brought in Billy "I pretended to be in town when I was off fishing, is that a problem?" Volek, who promptly coughed the ball up some more.

They. Were. Broken.

So what happened? Three things, really.

1. LaDanian. He and Gates were really the only spark they had, and LT in particular won that game for them. He made it possible for Rivers to piece together a couple of drives. He kept somehow pulling shoestring catches off screen passes out of the air and bouncing it outside just enough to take over in the fourth quarter and OT. The guy is a flat out baller. On a side note Dennis Franchione owes him about 10 million dollars.

2. The Defense wore out. It seemed that they were on the field the entire fourth quarter. Our defense is one of the best in the league with Haynesworth in but we've had trouble before this year in the fourth quarter ( Tampa, Houston ) getting off the field and fatigue played a big part in this one. We have some nice pieces on D, and claim to have depth, but the dropoff from the ones to the twos at Dline and DB is huge. We're a year or two away from real depth and a championship caliber defense, assuming we resign Haynesworth. A bad call on 4th and 5 didn't help, but we still should have been able to get a stop if number 3 hadn't happened...

3. The offense turtled. If you play TF or Halo you know what I'm talking about. Once you get a lead you stop sending anyone over, turtle the flag, and try to hold on. We did the NFL equivalent of that. It's a decent strategy if your D can hold up. If not, it's a great way to lose a game, and it really bit us this time. Huck and Eric and others have mentioned it, but we ran on 1st and 2nd down an insane number of times, lending a predictability to our offense usually reserved for glacial melt and swallow migration. The SD LB's absolutely loved it, shutting down everything inside on first and second, then jumping the hot routes on third. I blame Vince for the interception on 3rd and 2, he's almost two seasons in and should know better, but it isn't like anyone in that entire stadium didn't know where we were headed with that. Long Duk Dong could have figured it out.

duk
No more yanky my wanky! You never throw first down!

Which brings me to the bigger question, one I don't really have an answer to, which is where are we going with this. It seems pretty clear we're a 9-7 football team, plus or minus a game. The style of play I grudgingly accepted at midseason with the 6-2 run falls completely apart without a top 5 defense- and we can only do that when Hayneworth is healthy and then only for three quarters. We could squeak into the playoffs, but really don't have the pieces for a run, not against the AFC this season anyway.

Looking at the bigger picture I wonder where we're going as an offense over the next few years- because defensively we're getting there. It's obvious to anyone watching that we drafted a shotgun 3 wide QB to run a power I and it's not working. Somethings got to give. The guy put up a 1,000 yards the last four games and we let him throw it twice in the fourth quarter. We're so afraid of a bad play we can't get out of our own endzone in overtime. He's raw and makes mistakes but at some point you have to let the guy play. If he had the option on the line to make those calls (dubious, but possible) then that's even worse, because that means at some point he quit playing to win and started playing not to screw up. We've turned one of the most electric players in sports into Trent Dilfer, and I'm not sure why.

Random Thoughts:

1. If one property of Fisherball conflicts with another do they multiply or cancel out? Example, if you rely on special teams as a pillar for success, but are also so conservative that you put a really sure-handed guy who couldn't run through wet rice-paper on kick returns, does one cancel the other out? Is it still Fisherball? Judges?

2. Listening to Shawne Merriman lecture on sportsmanship and fair play is like listening to Wilt Chamberlain discuss monogamy, once you stop laughing. Even if they understand the concept there is an entire frame of referene that is lacking. Credibility is such an elusive thing for some.

3. Interesting tidbit on my favorite 180 lb cornerback with a personality disorder, Samford University is a private, coeducational, Baptist-affiliated university located in Homewood, Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham. They haven't had a player drafted since 1969. The odds of someone named Cortland Finnegan being good at football are already about 10,000 to 1. The odds of someone named Cortland Finnegan from Samford University in Homewood, Alabama playing starting cornerback in the NFL are roughly the same as those of Britney Spears discovering cold fusion.

4. I'm going to skip all of the what-if scenarios about the playoffs this season. They make my head hurt. If some team Cleveland played 8 weeks ago loses and that helps us, great. I appreciate the guys who put in the time to break it all down for us and thank you in advance, but I just cannot do it again this season. Somehow it all came together last year and we lost the damn game anyway. I'm resorting to the Crash Davis one game at a time, we're just happy to be here, just win the next one mentality this season, for mental health reasons. If I start doing a Mack Clap after turnovers it will be time to stop watching altogether.

5. Norm Chow doesn't get his wizard hat back until I see an entirely different gameplan or he gets a guest role in a Harry Potter spinoff. He's only one third of the problem but he's the one who has to fix this if it's fixable, the other two can't do it. One is too young and the other too stubborn. You're the OC who groomed Jim McMahon, man. One of the the best roll-out passers of all time. The original loose cannon. The beer-swilling Addidas headband-wearing psychopath who freelanced his way to a Superbowl win after recording one of the worst rap songs in history. Reach down and grab a pair. We've got three games left. You keep running that power I stuff exclusively on first and second down and not only are we going down in flames, but you're probably going to break the peg.

jim
Let Vince be Vince, Brah.