Posted: 12:09 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013
Last year, Fitzpatrick and the Buffalo Bills offense put up 28-points (one TD was a punt return) in a 35-17 win in the second week of the season. In fact, Fitz threw for two touchdowns and no interceptions and ran for 34 yards in that win. That all came against the same defense that the Titans will go against on Sunday.
So how did he do this? Well first of all they leaned heavily on the running game. The Bills ran the ball 36 times and gashed the Chiefs for 201 yards and two TDs. They also attacked the middle of the field often and used designed plays to get their speedy players in open space. The big question is, how can the Tennessee offense mimic the Bills gameplan?
The short answer: Yes.
The long answer:
The Titans offensive line is as good if not better than the Bills offensive line last year. One part of the obviously the same, i.e. Andy Levitre, but you would be hard pressed to find an independent party that would argue for the Bills offensive line. This is to say that even though the Chiefs have brought more pressure in the first four weeks of the season, don't assume that Fitzpatrick will be under fire all day long.
If the Michael Roos and David Stewart can keep Justin Houston and Tamba Hali from being big factors then the passing game should be able to get into a rhythm. Chance Warmack, Rob Turner, and Andy Levitre are in for a tough day trying to eliminate the threat of Derrick Johnson and Dontari Poe in the middle, but they have the talent and coaching to rise to the occasion.
One of the things that benefits the Titans is that they are very well-equipped to attack the middle of the field, where Fitzpatrick has been historically strong. Locker has been great, but he doesn't utilize his TEs over the middle often enough, which causes people to forget how useful Taylor Thompson and Craig Stevens can be. With their personnel and Fitzpatrick's willingness to attack the middle of the defense, the Titans should get big days out of tight ends Delanie Walker, Stevens, Thompson and slot-receiver Kendall Wright.
Speaking of slot-receivers, Dunta Robinson will reportedly be covering Kendall Wright on Sunday which is great news for the Titans. For those that don't know, Robinson has had a very rocky start to the season and is the NFL's forth worst cover corner according to PFF. Opposing QBs targeting Robinson have targeted him 13 times and have ended up with 10 catches, 187 yards, 18.7 YPC, one TD, and no INTs. That sort of success rate presents a clear opportunity for the Titans to exploit.
Another thing that the media doesn't talk about when they talk about the vaunted Kansas City defense is that the Chiefs are actually one of the eight worst rushing defenses in the league. Allowing a near league-worst 5.4 YPC, it would be surprising if the Titans threw the ball more than they did against the Steelers in week one.
The real issue here is how long will the Titans stay committed to Chris Johnson. Last week Jackie Battle's "grind it out" style of play was more successful against a swarming Jets defense. However, Shady McCoy and David Wilson who typically fit the "shifty" running back template, but Chris hasn't had the explosion he has had in the past. So, do the Titans play the matchup and use Chris Johnson, or do they go with what has worked for them.
The Titans are playing very well at home, and they did so against teams that were at .500 or better when Tennessee played them. In fact, the Titans are 2-0 at home this season and are outscoring opponents 58-30, and the Chiefs are not traditionally as good outside of Arrowhead. The Chiefs are 3-7 in their last 10 road games, and the Titans are 6-4 at home including a four-game streak.