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2012 Tennessee Titans Midseason Report Card: Local Fan’s Take

Yahoo Contributor Network

The Tennessee Titans completed the first half of their 2012-13 NFL season schedule with a 19-13 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts on October 28, 2012. During the first four quarters, the Titans had plenty of opportunities to win. Unfortunately, they didn't capitalize on them.

The Titans face a difficult journey in clinching an AFC wild-card berth. They could have returned to .500. Instead, they head into the second half of the season with a 3-5 record. Some of their remaining opponents include the Chicago Bears, at Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans, at Indianapolis Colts and at Green Bay Packers.

Here's a midseason report card for the Titans. Who gets high grades? Who gets low grades?

Special Teams: A

Alan Lowry has done a good job with his unit. Brett Kern and Rob Bironas are arguably the NFL's top kicker-punter tandem. Special teams have played a critical role in two of the Titans' three victories. Their biggest gaffe came when they allowed an 89-yard kickoff return to Buffalo Bills return specialist Brad Smith.

The Titans would have a 1-7 record if it weren't for their clutch kicker, Darius Reynaud and Tim Shaw. These types of special-teams performances should help them defeat good teams. Instead, it's saving them against mediocre teams.

Pass-Offense (Receivers): B+

The Titans have a talented group of receivers that include Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Kenny Britt and Jared Cook (tight end). This offense has top-ten potential. However, they've had some difficulty with dropped passes. They're among the league leaders with 19 dropped passes. The Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions lead the NFL with 22 dropped passes.

They've made some great plays. Just need to show some slightly better hands.

Pass-Offense (Quarterback): C+

Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck have each started four games. Both bring a different style of quarterbacking. Whereas Locker has the younger and stronger arm, Hasselbeck has the experience with reading defenses and making quicker decisions.

Neither quarterback has played poorly. However, they could do better. Matt Hasselbeck has had a couple bad interceptions (e.g. two pick-6s against the Houston Texans). Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he had one that was dropped in the fourth quarter. Locker has had some problems with high passes over the middle. Those types of mistakes can lead to serious injuries for the receivers.

Run-Offense: C+ (Trending Upward)

Four Bad Games: 48 carries for 69 yards (1.44 average)

Four Good Games: 83 carries for 526 yards (6.34 average)

Those are the stats for Chris Johnson. He's done much better over his past three games. The question is whether this will continue. One factor may involve whether Craig Stevens loses playing to Jared Cook.

Coaching (Mike Munchak and Chris Palmer): C

The coaching staff must put their players in the best position to win games. They don't do that. In the case of the Indianapolis Colts, there were a couple times where they weren't putting anybody in position at all. I'm referring to the Colts' game-tying drive that came because the defense had 10 men on the field on two occasions.

They get credit for fixing the ground game. They get credit for not letting this team go into a tailspin following a 1-4 start. With that said, I'm not confident that this coaching staff has anyone who excels as a game-day coach. A "C" is possibly a soft grade. In the next two weeks, this could drop. Fast.

Defense (Jerry Gray): F

Is an "F" too lenient of a grade for this defense? The Titans have allowed a league-worst opponent completion percentage of 72.1 percent. Therefore, an "Incomplete" is not a proper grade.

The pass-defense averages less than one interception per game. They have the fewest sacks (11) among teams who've played eight games. They're one of four teams who surrender more than 281 passing yards per game. The Washington Redskins are the only team who allow more passing touchdowns. The Titans have allowed an opponent quarterback rating of 105.8.

The run-defense is just as bad. They're allowing the 28th-most rushing yards per game (139.2). They're one of only two teams who've allowed more than 59 rushing first downs (69). They've surrendered eight rushing touchdowns.

Does this defense do anything well? This is more than a talent issue. The Titans allowed three touchdown catches to Dante Rosario. They're getting run over by Jackie Battle and Donald Brown. These players wouldn't get much attention if they were free agents. Yet, they morphed into Pro Bowlers against this defense. That's surprising until one sees these types of alignments.

The Titans insist on playing Ryan Mouton at nickelback. This doesn't work when Reggie Wayne and Calvin Johnson move to the slot. Mouton isn't effectively covering these receivers. In 2011, this wasn't an issue because they had Cortland Finnegan. That gave them three starting-caliber cornerbacks.

Here's all you need to know: 32.125 points per game. With that type of defense, it's incredible that Tennessee has won three games.

Overall: D+

As previously mentioned, the Titans have a 3-5 record. In each of those three victories, they've either been tied or losing in the last 90 seconds. They have yet to put together a decisive victory. Because of the defense, the Titans have great difficulty in putting teams away.

The Titans have endured a tough schedule. That doesn't excuse their 3-5 record. Their lack of competitiveness in four of their first five games was astounding. Excluding special teams, this team has underperformed in every phase of the game.

Joshua Huffman graduated from Middle Tennessee State University as a marketing major in 2009. He's been a Middle Tennessee resident from 1986-88 and 2001-present. He lived in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin from 1988-01 and for approximately eight months in 2009-10 as he completed a 20-game volunteer position with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers. His favorite sports organizations include the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs, Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans. He can be found on Twitter HERE.

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