Belated thoughts on Titans-Rams

I finally got an opportunity to finish watching last weekend’s preseason game against the Rams, and, as I did with the game against the Vikings, it’s time to see how my pregame things to keep any eye on fared:

1. Quarterback.  Matt Hasselbeck got most of the playing time with the first stringers, but Locker came in after Hasselbeck was shaken up.  I’m not sure if Hasselbeck would’ve returned if this were a game that actually counted, but suspect he might have.  He played the sort of smart veteran game I’ve come to expect.  Locker, after some optimism last week, played more like a rookie who spent a lot of time as a spotty college quarterback.  If and when he plays, the Titans are going to need some constraint plays or teams will eat the bootleg up.

2. Jamie Harper and Stafon Johnson.  Well, ok, I completely missed Herb Donaldson’s prominent role in this game.  I thought Harper overall had a much better game than he had against the Vikings in terms of running forward.  I only started really cursing him out once, on a goalline carry in the second quarter when I thought he gave up a 5-yard TD for no gain.  Stafon Johnson didn’t get the work until the second half, really.  I didn’t see anything special from him, and he gave up some pressure on blitz pickup, which doesn’t help his chances.

3. Right tackle.  Otto played ok, I thought-not great, but not terrible either.  I didn’t pay a huge amount of attention to either Adam Terry or Pat McQuistan, but with Otto’s play and his experience with the team I expect him to start if Stewart does have to miss time.

4. Interior offensive line.  The first-team offensive line as a whole did a really nice job of opening holes when they weren’t getting beat by Fred Robbins.  I’m not sure just how much of that was the Rams’ defense, and how much was a return to 2007, where the linemen had a clue what they were doing.  Still, an encouraging sign.

5. Karl Klug.  After getting an awful lot of playing time against the Vikings, he seemed to play more later in the game this week.  Second-team offensive linemen on a team without a great line or, I believe, depth makes him a tough evaluate.  Let’s just say I’m not cranky at him yet.

6. Gerald McRath.  I was looking for both solid plays and splash plays.  I didn’t really see any particular splash plays-my favorite of his in the first half (the one I watched in much greater detail) was one where he got outside of the pulling guard and prevented the bounce.  On the other hand, he had one play where I thought he played too conservatively and neeed Will Witherspoon to prevent a big gain.

7. Cornerback depth.  Still a Problem.  Tommie Campbell gave up a score and had a bad whiff on a smoke route.  That last would get you benched under Fisher.  I didn’t think Frank Walker really did much better.

Other notes:

  • Shaun Smith spent some time getting moved around on run plays, more than you’d like to see.
  • I don’t hate the guy, but Jovan Haye is probably a player who needs to show assignment discipline and splash plays in the last two preseason games to make the team.
  • Where have all the wideouts gone? Gone for passes, one by one.  Like cornerback depth, depth at wideout is a concern to me.
  • Too much of the pressure came from blitzes, including more zone blitzes.
  • I think Rennie Curran is a guy who really needs to make an impression to make the team.
  • The first play of the game, the big touchdown to Gibson, is exactly why Chris Hope is on the team despite his salary: because he’s much more trustworthy in the deep safety role than Griffin.  I want Griffin to be a good single-high safety, you want Griffin to be a good single-high safety, and I’m pretty confident the Titans want Griffin to be a good single-high safety, but that doesn’t make him one.
  • I had trouble evaluating Locker because the usual preseason production values made it difficult to determine what was going on downfield.

Fortunately, I’ll be able to watch the Bears game live, so you won’t have to wait as long for my in-depth thoughts on that contest.  If you want to check out my detailed play-by-play notes on the first half of the Rams game, see here.

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