The Tennessee Titans defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-7 for their first victory of the 2012 NFL preseason on August 17, 2012. The Titans out-gained the Buccaneers in total yardage 352 to 118. The Titans were dominant in nearly every facet of the game except for one area: starting quarterback.
Here are a few observations from that contest.
Jake Locker completed 4-of-11 passes for 21 yards with an interception. The Titans were 0-for-6 on third-down conversions when Locker led the offense. Locker should've thrown a second interception when he forced a pass into double coverage. The Titans had a 20-7 lead when Locker exited in the second quarter.
I wanted Locker to win the job tonight. He didn't seal the deal. It was encouraging to see him lead a touchdown drive when the Titans fell behind 7-0. The 21-yard scramble was also a good play. That's something that Matt Hasselbeck can't do.
Chris Johnson had 10 rushes for 46 yards with two 14-yard touchdown runs. Johnson kept attacking the holes instead of bouncing outside. He looked more like the pre-2011 Johnson who was one of the NFL's most-exciting players. However, don't forget that Johnson had 23 rushes for 190 yards (long of 34 yards) when these teams met on November 27, 2011.
As a team, the Titans had 216 rushing yards. Only 25 yards were from quarterbacks.
The Titans' front seven was dominant. They contained Buccaneers halfback LeGarrette Blount for 11 yards on eight carries. Sen'Derrick Marks and Derrick Morgan each had a sack in the first half. Josh Freeman and Dan Orlovsky rarely had time to find open receivers. The secondary capitalized on the pressure with an interception.
There were a couple concerns. The Titans were unsuccessful with containing cutback runs. The Buccaneers were getting about eight yards on designed running plays where they cut it across the line of scrimmage. The Titans also could've tackled better.
Darius Reynaud continues to make his case for making the 53-man roster. Reynaud had eight rushes for 76 yards. He combined for 88 return yards on two punt returns and one kickoff return. He almost broke free for his second punt-return touchdown of the preseason.
Reynaud was a long shot to make this team. He has made it a tough decision. Reynaud is a versatile player who can contribute on special teams, running back and wide receiver. I'd rather see Reynaud return punts if Marc Mariani won't stop fielding them inside his own 10-yard-line.
The Titans gave Locker every opportunity to win the job tonight. That tells me that they wanted him to win. I think Locker has the advantage because of his upside. Coach Mike Munchak should make his final decision as they prepare for their third preseason game.
The Titans had a dominant run-defense. They had a dominant pass-defense. They had a dominant run-offense. They were dominant on special teams. That was a remarkable effort in the humid and uncomfortable environment at Raymond James Stadium.
On Another Note
Former Titans running back LaGarrette Blount suffered a left knee injury. Blount was carted into the locker room for evaluation. He wasn't able to put much weight on the knee.
The Titans will host their first preseason game when they play the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday, August 23. The game will be televised at 7:00 p.m. Central Time (CT) on ESPN. This starts a three-game home stretch that will conclude with the regular-season home opener against the New England Patriots on September 9.
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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