A Week 3 Look at the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South
They were dominant in a Week 1 victory over Oakland and struggled in a Week 2 loss to Pittsburgh, but after being outplayed for 55 minutes nearly rallied to tie the Steelers late. Now, they go on the road against a team that also struggled last week.
But while that team, the New York Giants, very much needs a victory, they also are a team that allowed 160 yards rushing against the Indianapolis Colts last week. That could be a good sign for the Titans, who depend heavily on the running of Chris Johnson, a 2,000-yard rusher last season who has yet to rush consistently in two games this season.
The game also has the added element of featuring Giants linebacker Keith Bulluck, who spent his first 10 seasons with the Titans.
"We have the challenge of facing one of our own, if you will, one of my favorites of all time in Keith," Titans' head coach Jeff Fisher said. "That's going to be a huge challenge because he does know; he knows our defense, he knows our offense and so that in itself will be a challenge."
Here is a quick look at the Tennesee Titans in Week 3
The opponent: at New York Giants (1-1).
The trend: The Titans lost last week after winning the regular-season opener. The 1-1 record after two games is unusual for a team that has started the last two seasons with opposite sorts of momentum. They began the 2008 season 10-0 and won the AFC South and started 0-6 last season before finishing .500.
Recent history: History isn't always pertinent in games between AFC and NFC teams, but the Titans and Giants have played in two memorable games this decade. The Titans rallied from a 21-0 deficit with 10 minutes remaining to win in Nashville in 2006. That was quarterback Vince Young's eighth career start. Four years before that, the late Steve McNair rallied Tennessee to a 32-29 victory in overtime – a key victory en route to the Titans' first AFC South title.
Key question: Which Titans are the real Titans? They were impressive in the regular-season opener, beating the Raiders, 38-13, but a 19-11 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers raised some worrisome issues. Not only did quarterback Vince Young struggle, but the Titans also committed seven turnovers. Chris Johnson, a 2,000-yard rusher in 2009, failed to reach 100 yards after a 12-game streak of such performances. "A bad day offensively," Fisher called it. The day came against one of the league's best defenses, but the Titans want to get Johnson going.
Pressing issue: How Young will respond. Fisher replaced Young late in the loss to the Steelers, with veteran Kerry Collins – who replaced Young as the starter in 2008 – finishing the game in his place. Fisher was quick to say afterward there is no quarterback controversy, and the overall trend in the offseason and preseason was of Young improving, developing and maturing in his fifth NFL season. That trend could still continue, but the coming weeks could be a critical time.