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Tennessee off the mark: Who’d have thought 1-6 could sound so sweet?

November 2, 2009

So it’s now week 8 of the NFL season (I know, going way too fast), and last year’s best regular-season team, your author’s beloved Tennessee Titans, have finally won their first game at home to Jacksonville yesterday. After the Steelers edged the Titans in the season’s first game, the Texans, Jaguars, Colts, Jets and Patriots have all felled the T’s, and such was the chagrin of the ownership that there were questions surrounding Jeff Fisher’s job security and if Vince Young would ever get a second shot at leading the team.

He's back, baby!

He's back, and turnover-free!

Yesterday, at least, we got the answer to one of those conundrums. Young came in and started his first game since opening day 2008, finishing with an unspectacular but nonetheless efficient statline of  15 of 18 passing for 125 yards and 1 touchdown to Nate Washington. However, the main positive for many Titans fans is that VY (and indeed the team as a whole) didn’t turn the football over. Not once. This is a huge change from a squad who were tied for the league lead in giveaways going into yesterday’s game with 18 in just six games.

Now, rather than bragging about how we at PaP foresaw a second chance for Young months ago, we should not be so bold. Obviously, this is only one game in a long season, and who knows if Young will continue to be efficient, improve or take a downward spiral.

More importantly, the pass defense, which has been the worst in the NFL all year long, finally had a good day, holding David Garrard (who shredded Tennessee for 300+ yards and three scores in the first game) to just 139 pass yards and picking him off twice. The return of Pro Bowl cornerback Cortland Finnegan had a marked impact on the team, and surely rookie D-coordinator Chuck Cecil was delighted to see an improvement in what has been the team’s worst area by far this season.

Chris Johnson: can high-step faster than most people can run.

However, there are still problems to fix for Tennessee. Without Chris Johnson’s frankly obscene game on the ground – 228 yards and two TDs for those keeping score at home – this would have been a much tighter affair, and the fact that Maurice Jones-Drew gained a monstrous 177 yards on just eight carries will certainly keep Cecil up at night this week.

It was a very good thing that Johnson played so well, because it made Young’s job a lot easier and meant that he could settle back into the starting role rather than having to try and win the game on his own. But Tennessee has to prepare for the games where they can’t dominate on the ground and have to lean on Young more; only time will tell how the former Texas star will handle the likes of Indianapolis, San Diego and Arizona down the stretch.

For now though, I’m sure Titans fans worldwide (including yours truly) will simply be delighted to no longer be the worst team in the league. And who knows, maybe Tennessee won’t have a pick in the top five come the 2010 draft. We can but hope!

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