As Tim introduced last week, we'll have some rare insight into our opponents every week through that respective team's blogger here on SB Nation. This week August West of SBN's Titans site, who you may have seen around BRB from time to time, was gracious enough to answer a few questions about this week's matchup, the Tennessee Titans. I also answered his questions as well, which can be found over at Music City Miracles.
1. The Titans defensive strength last year was the ability to pressure the quarter back with only 4 rushers. Is that ability still there?
Judging from the early returns, it's a mixed bag. The front four has always been a heavy rotation (Albert actually only played a little over 60% of the defensive snaps for us), but that's even more so the case this year as every guy on the active roster at the DT and DE positions sees the field. Probably the biggest functional difference is that we may not be as consistent at getting the push through the middle that will blow-up either a run or a pass. Tony Brown and Jason Jones are still players who can wreak havoc in the middle on any play, but overall the pressure has come more from the outside edge so far. You'll see a few more blitzes this year under Chuck Cecil, but it'll still be far under any league average.
I kind of feel terrible for Kerry because in the losses to Baltimore and Pittsburgh he was definitely good enough to win the game for us, but the team performances were marred by red zone turnovers, uncharacteristically missed field goals and some bad drops by a receiving corps we still haven't seen at 100%. I mean, those are two of the best passing defenses in the league, and Kerry had over 240 yards against each of them without much of a running game. Last year, we had several games that weren't nationally televised where the passing game was what loosened things up for the running game (the Chicago game last year is the prima facie example of this), and several more where it was Kerry's throws on the final drive that won the game (see the first Baltimore game last year).
Long story short, you can't just completely pole jock a guy who only had 12 TDs in 16 games, but Kerry has shown Titans fans that if the D can keep it close, he can get us in position to win against any team in any location.
3. What match up against the Texans do you think is most important for the Titans?
It's easy to go with the entire Texans' defensive line vs. our offensive line, but I'll focus in on another biggie--our safeties vs. Andre Johnson. Cortland Finnegan has been practicing playing both sides of the field after being kept to one side since he became a starter, and you can believe that Johnson and Reggie Wayne are the reasons why. That being said, Cort won't be asked to cover Johnson on an island for too long, especially in the deep halves of the secondary. That's where Michael Griffin and Chris Hope, both Pro Bowlers last year, will have to be sure that they make the right read every single time. When we blitz, a lot of the time it's with Griffin. On those plays, Hope will really feel the pressure if the rush isn't there in time because Schaub would be a fool not to take some deep shots towards one of the best WRs I've ever seen out there.
4. People forget the Titians won the AFC South last year. What are the chances that Tennessee does it again this year?
Very good. This team is still a Jeff Fisher team through and through; the defense will keep us in games and the new weapons on offense (Nate Washington, Jared Cook and Kenny Britt), while still unproven, are already a huge upgrade over the worst WR corps in the league last year. Health will be the biggest factor in whether or not we repeat as AFC South champions. Looking around the rest of the division, I still believe the Colts will struggle without Dungy once some adversity hits, the Jags are several years away from competing, and then you guys are perhaps the biggest unknown in the league this year.
5. What will the result of Sunday's game be?