Tale Of The Tape: Tennessee Titans At St. Louis Rams
- QuarterbackThe Titans have shown some signs that they are starting to improve and become one of the more competitive teams in the AFC. Much of that is due to the change in Jake Locker’s game. He has good presence in the pocket, shows surprising toughness and will find the open receiver. Locker has a strong enough arm and he will not panic in the pocket.The Rams had a chance to have a good second half of the season, but all that fell apart when Sam Bradford injured his knee in Week Seven against the Panthers. Now the Rams are forced to play Kellen Clemens under center and he’s not prepared to lead a developing team. Clemens came close to the upset in the Week Eight Monday night game against Seattle, but he fell short.
- OffenseThe Titans appear to have a fairly balanced offense on paper. Start with running back Chris Johnson who has not played up to his talent level, as he has rushed for 366 yards and his 3.2 yards per carry mark is poor. Nate Washington is a solid wide receiver who can make the tough catch, while tight end Delanie Walker is a decent red zone target with three touchdowns.The Rams don’t have a credible running game because Zac Stacy and Daryl Richardson are both ordinary players. That will make it a lot tougher for Clemens to establish wide receivers Chris Givens and Tavon Austin. Tight end Jared Cook has the kind of talent to make big plays, but he does not play with consistency.
- DefenseThe Titans rank 13th in overall defense and head coach Mike Munchak’s team makes up for in nastiness and aggressiveness what it lacks in athletic ability. Strong safety Bernard Pollard is the defense’s leader and best all-around player with 47 tackles and two interceptions. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey has 24 tackles and 4.0 sacks.The Rams rank 22nd on defense but they have the talent to exceed that level. Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis is the most reliable player on the defense and its best tackler. He leads the team with 55 stops. Defensive end Robert Quinn is one of the NFL’s most underrated pass rushers. He leads the team with 7.0 sacks.
- Special TeamsThe Titans have done a decent job in punt and kickoff coverage, but they were so disappointed with their own return game that they cut Darius Reynaud, the team’s primary return specialist. Rob Bironas is one of the NFL’s most dependable placekickers, but he has not had an attempt of 50 yards or longer.The Rams believe that their special teams give them an advantage in most weeks. Placekicker Greg Zuerlein has one of the strongest legs in the league and he has impressed head coach Jeff Fisher with his consistency. Punter Johnny Hekker is a skilled directional punter.
Fisher gets a chance to coach against the team he led for so many years, but the nostalgia factor may not be high since the game is in St. Louis instead of Tennessee. The Titans have a chance to make a playoff push and should be well-prepared after their bye week. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor