With the 34-13 loss to the New England Patriots during the Titans home opener, comes a whole new can of worms to be opened and scrutinized by every arm chair Quarterback and Monday water cooler coach. The issues that I am about to present are ones that as a Coach and player, I have seen behind the scenes and that are currently materializing within our team.
Issue number 1) Offensive Coordinator Chris Palmer
Last season (in several articles) I let it be known that not only did I not approve of his hiring but in fact his inability to have ever proven himself as a Head Coach or Offensive Coordinator baffled me in terms of how he was still in the league.
This is a man that was fired from Cleveland after going 5-27 with an Offense that was lackluster at best, a man who was fired as Offensive Coordinator in 2005 from the Houston Texans for the same reason he was dismissed in Cleveland after 3 years of producing the last three Offenses in the league from 2002 until his week 2 release in 2005. A “Coach” who went 6-10 as the Head Coach of the United Football League’s Hartford Colonials and who has an all time record of 8 wins and 32 losses…I don’t know about ya’ll but I want an Offensive Coordinator that knows how to win ball games.
Against the Patriots, Runningback Chris Johnson ran for 4 yards on 11 carries. Yet Palmer has stated in EVERY Press Conference that they need to find ways to get the ball in his hands more often. As the Offensive Coordinator he not only has the ability to do just that, BUT, is responsible for NOT doing so. The Titans Offensive calls failed to show not even ONE Halfback screen all game to get the ball to C.J. in open space. It also failed to give him the ball on any sort of down the field throw such a wheel or 9 route. However, CJ was the teams leading receiver in receptions with 6 catches for 47 yards, which tells me Palmer would much rather use his RB as a receiver.
First, I would like to know why Palmer would take a former 2,000 yard rusher and turn him into one of the worst statistical Runningbacks in the league and try and make him the next Reggie Bush? I would also like to know what credentials Palmer possesses that would allow Head Coach Mike Munchak to believe that Palmer earned the role as our Offensive Coordinator? and Finally, if our season continues as it started, How many games will it take before Munchak releases Palmer from his duties?
It has already been reported that players within the locker room have been questioning Coach Palmer’s credentials themselves, wondering what has this man has done to earn their trust within his system, which in turn makes me believe that even the players lack any sort of confidence in his ability to not only position them to make plays, but make the correct play call to begin with.
Issue Number 2: The Offensive Line
No, this is not an excuse or any sort of way of convincing myself (or you) that Sunday’s lack of run production wasn’t Johnson’s fault, it was a shared effort. But, not necessarily one that doesn’t show that Velasco and Harris are the weakest links (Harris was one last season as well) on this years line. The inability for either player to sustain their blocking assignments for any amount of credible time proved to me that Chris Johnson simply doesn’t trust either of them to hold their blocks to allow him to make any sort of run to the hole. This causes Johnson to consistently hesitate on runs assigned for their blocks and attempt to bounce carries to the outside, hoping to outrun the defenders. As a professional Johnson isn’t going to call out his Offensive Line to the media in order to prevent any sort of distraction, but also allowing and trusting that the Coaching Staff will make the proper adjustments. Everyone wants to put the blame on CJ, which some of it is in the sense that no matter what industry you work in, in order to produce…YOU MUST TRUST YOUR COWORKERS!!. It is as simple as that, start trusting that your teammates are going to make the proper plays and they will. Vince Young had to learn this lesson as well, when he would continuously not make the proper reads due to his Receivers who consistently dropped passes, leading Young to constantly roll out and try to make the play all in the lonesome. Johnson must learn that even though he may not trust his line, that he must at least do he his part of the job and making the proper read to his assigned running lane.
Another sign that there is little faith not just by Johnson, but by Munchak is the signing of 7 year Veteran Guard Deuce Lutui earlier this afternoon. This signing not only shows that Harris nor Velasco are doing their job BUT that Head Coach Munchak and General Manager Ruston Webster aren’t going to put up with another unproductive running season. Munchak has been adamant from the beginning that he very much takes pride in his Offensive Line and when they perform poorly that their is no one within the Titans organization who takes it more personally. I would expect to see Lutui replace either Harris or Velasco this coming week against the San Diego Chargers.
Issue Number 3: Defensive Secondary
This part won’t be long at all, because I honestly think we have a good Defensive Coordinator who just failed to prepare our players for the Patriots. That is a tough assignment to draw during any given week, and I am positive (as a Coach) that he spoke with Munchak and the players shortly after the game, explaining that the fault lies with him for their performance. I would imagine it went something along the lines of “I understand that is my job to prepare you all for our opponent and put each of you in the best position possible to make plays and I failed to do so, in addition this week I will personally work harder to prepare for the Chargers and work with ya’ll to make sure that this sort of shit doesn’t happen again.” In my professional and personal opinion, I believe this week against the Chargers we will not only see the passion that we would like to see on Defense but more big plays being made as well. Gray is a man who has an impeccable Defensive background and has consistently produced top 10 Defenses year in and year out. Case in point, last season our Titans were 8th in points allowed per game.
What does all this mean? It means that we can expect to see a no nonsense mentality going forward and that Munchak sees that the time for project players on the Offensive Line, or anywhere on the roster for that matter, are over. I believe we will see the Titans come out this Sunday in San Diego and open up the playbooks on both sides of the ball. In addition, it is a game that is not only a must win, but a game that must regain the hearts of the Titans faithful and if Palmer is smart in any way, shape or form, he will try and shut his critics up this week, if he isn’t all that intelligent, then well all I have to say is Not For Long pal, Not For Long…