The Tennessee Titans have been a rival of the Indianapolis Colts for going on ten years. While it might not have the rich legacy of, say, the Oakland Raiders v. the Kansas City Chiefs, it's pretty safe to say that the games featuring Tennessee and Indy have been a helluva lot more watchable than anything Oakland and KC have mustered up of late.
And as with all rivalries, there comes the inevitable hating, name-calling, and derogatory comments about a person's mother; all often aimed at the fanbase of the rival. This is a right of passage. This is the cranberry relish to go with your turkey. The sprinkles to your donut.
This is RIVALRY WEEK!
For this first installment of rivalry week, we're very happy to bring in the best Tennessee Titans blogger on the Internets: Jimmy from Music City Miracles. I'm not sure, but I do believe I had the honor of giving Jimmy his very first interview as a Titans blogger waaaaaaaaaaay back in 2006. We both had just started blogging back then, and one of the bigger topics of discussion was how the then 0-4 Titans were going to respond if or when Kerry Collins was to get benched for then-rookie Vince Young.
Three years later, nearly that exact same scenario seems to be upon us once again.
BBS: Before we get to talking about all the negative stuff surrounding your team's 0-4 stuff, let's focus on a positive, Chris Johnson. Bill Polian is fond of saying a player makes his biggest leap from year one to year two. Currently, Johnson is the best runner (statistically) in the league right now. How has Johnson improved in other areas of his game, such a pass blocking, running routes as a WR, cut-back running, etc.?
Jimmy: I would love to be able to answer your question about running routes as a WR, but it seems that Mike Heimerdinger is morally opposed to splitting him out wide. He has done it once this season. The Texans forgot to cover him, and he went 69 yards for a touchdown. I can understand not wanting to get the ball in the hands of one of (if not the) most explosive players in the league though..
He is solid in pass protection and has really good vision. He had a beautiful cut-back run in the opener against the Steelers, but those skills were there even last year.
BBS: LenDale White made a lot of noise by slimming down this off-season. Has it helped him any as a runner?
Jimmy: I knew you would ask a question about your boy LenDale.
Honestly, only the Lord in Heaven knows if it has helped him as a runner (and I mean that literally). LenDale has 23 carries in 4 games. For some reason they seem to be opposed to using him much this season ever in short yardage situations.
LenDale has a good running back skill set so you would have to assume with all the weight off, but who really knows? I know he looked really good here.
BBS: The Titans have the second to worst pass defense in football, and I believe their front four has generated only two sacks this season so far. What is wrong with this area? Is it the new coordinator? Is Kyle Vanden Bosch still hurt? Do they miss Albert Haynesworth?
Jimmy: Yes. Either that or he is done. Yes.
Chuck Cecil, the new coordinator, was in the Jim Schwartz/Jeff Fisher system for a long time, but things are still a lot different when you are the one calling the shots. It is to early to say he won't be a good coordinator, but he has had some growing pains early.
KVB has been a non-factor so far this season. He says he is completely healthy so I don't really know the answer to that one.
They tried to tell us all offseason they weren't going to miss Haynesworth, but that was a little silly. When Fat Albert wants to be, he is one of the most dominating defensive players in the league. Of course you are going to miss that guy.
The biggest issue thus far has been the secondary not playing their assignments/Nick Harper being the worst corner in the league.
BBS: 0-4 does not mean the season is officially over, but it does not look good. If this team does not make the playoffs this year (and right now it is still an if) do you see Jeff Fisher being removed as head coach of the Titans? Should he be fired?
Jimmy: I don't think Fisher will be fired, but who know what happens if this team ends up winning 3-5 games which I think is a very real possibility right now.
I wouldn't fire him if it were up to me. Who are you going to get to replace him is the first thing I would ask. I can't come up with a name that makes me want Fisher gone. He has made some boneheaded decisions this year, but to me that doesn't mean he should be canned.
BBS: After watching the Dolphins have such success running the "Wild Cat offense" on Indy in Week Two, do you think the Titans will use some "Wild Cat" packages with Vince Young?
Jimmy: No. I think we would have seen it by now if they were going to bust it out. Now at 0-4 all bets are out the door, but I don't think that is something they are interested in doing.
Also, at MCM we just call that playing your back-up QB, not Wild Cat.
As always, Jimmy at Music City Miracles keeps it real. Many thanks to Jimmy for the time and for his insightful answers. And yes, we at Stampede Blue agree: It is playing your back-up QB, not Wild Cat.