Earlier tonight, the Titans kicked off the 2009 preseason at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio by taking on the Buffalo Bills. Since this is the 50th season of the franchises, both the Titans and Bills took the field wearing the uniform styles they wore that first year of the AFL and which both teams will don again during the regular season. There were also guys on the field in gold jackets, so 60′s fashion cool was on full display tonight.
Oh, they actually played a football game as well. The Titans scored both of their first two possessions to take a quick 14-0 lead and added a TD late in the second half to take a 21-3 lead and went into the locker room up 21-6. The offense didn’t add any more points the second half, but the Titans did manage to hold on and Jeff Fisher ended the game by taking an intentional safety for the gambler-delighting 21-18 lead.
For more on the game, check out the liveblog I did. For more on players and whatnot, see after the jump.
Since this was a preseason game, I won’t go back to the old recap formula, but will talk about what I noticed.
First, the quarterbacks. Kerry Collins looked very good. The run offense struggled early, but he was sharp, finishing 7 of 10 for 82 yards. Vince Young had a nice touchdown pass to Paul Williams, but also missed a couple throws and had a pretty bad interception on what may have been a blown assignment by Craig Stevens and/or Lavelle Hawkins. Patrick Ramsey didn’t do much of note in his work, all in the second half, but did complete 8 of his 10 passes for 72 yards. He got more work than expected after Alex Mortensen’s 2nd pass went right to Reggie Corner of the Bills and was returned for a touchdown, sending the ESPN reporter’s spawn back to the bench.
Second, the running game, or 6 carries and out. CJ got 6 carries-not much room for him there, totaling net 17 yards on a long of 16. LenDale got 6 carries-the first 2 went for 8 starting with 1st and goal from the 8, then got 4 more on his next 4 put together. Henry had 23 yards on his 6 carries to lead the game. Ringer officially had 4 carries for 14 yards, but had two more runs called back for holding, including a 21 yard scamper. Ganther and Little combined for 5 carries and a net of 0 in 4th quarter action.
Pass catchers? Nate Washington looked good in very brief action. Bo Scaife dropped the first pass sent his way. A large-looking Alge Crumpler had 3 catches and showed his frame didn’t prevent him from moving in open space. Rookie Jared Cook also had 3 catches and showed off decent hands in grabbing a Ramsey pass thrown a little behind him. Chris Davis had 3 catches of his own, but he’s Chris Davis. Aside from Alge early, the reception I liked best was Chris Henry taking a short dumpoff, making a guy miss, and ending up with a dozen yards. The Titans didn’t really take any shots deep this game.
The offensive line… generally reasonable in pass protection, as the Bills were credited for a single sack, when Jones beat Jason Murphy and forced Ramsey to fumble. Running the ball, though, this wasn’t the game that last year’s preseason opener against the Rams was. Henry had a 16 yard run to go with CJ’s 16 yard and Ringer’s called-back 21 yarder, but there were a lot of carries 3 yards or less, too many. The backups also had too many holding penalties-Doug Datish and Ryan Durand each had 2 holding penalties, and Mike Otto had his own on special teams.
Special of special teams, for the second straight preseason game, the Titans ran a fake punt
from around the opponent’s 40 yard line. Last year in Green Bay, it
was a direct snap to Vinny Fuller, who was an upback. This year, it
was a keeper by training camp punter A.J. Trapasso after a fake
end-around to Michael Griffin. Trapasso also kicked the ball 6 times, averaging 40.5 with a long of 51. Punt coverage was pretty good, as was kickoff coverage. Both teams struggled to break off long returns without penalties, though, which may have been an effect of the new rules about the use of the wedge. Both Jason McCourty and Ryan Mouton had 2 kickoff returns, and Mouton had 1 punt return and Chris Davis the other 3-no returner was particularly impressive to me.
Defense? Jason Jones and Tony Brown were the top DT pair, Haye and Vickerson the next two guys. Marks was the #5 guy and had some moments, including a sack. Mitch King looked too small and weak to play inside in the NFL. Larry Birdine didn’t put #92 completely to shame. William Hayes, who I mentioned as being a player to watch, was close to getting a sack a couple times with two QB hits and an offside penalty to his credit. Vickerson also had two of his own, which may be a good sign of aggressiveness or a bad sign of overaggressiveness and undisciplined play.
Linebackers? I rarely have strong feelings about linebackers on an initial viewing, and the same is true tonight. Gerald McRath had a couple nice plays on special teams. Stanford Keglar had 5 tackles to lead the Titans tonight. Ryan Fowler had a bad personal foul penalty on a late hit out of bounds-as a veteran, he really needed to be smarter than that.
Secondary? Donnie Nickey had a personal foul on a late hit over the middle, and a holding penalty on a Davis punt return. He got more work than he would in any regular game with Hope and Griffin playing. Tanard Davis had a couple plays where he looked like a guy who’d been cut twice a year. Jason McCourty looked best, with some nice work on special teams and an interception on a comeback route where he beat the wideout coming back for the ball. Cary Williams was tested a lot, but generally stood up well, including a deflection on a 4th down pass into the end zone.
One way or another, the first game of the preseason is in the books. What did you think of the Titans’ performance? Anybody whose performance impressed you, or who you’re ready to ship out of town (other than Alex Mortensen)?