May I introduce to you the Tennessee Titans starting quarterback Sack Mettenberger? Zach you say? Funny, because “Sack” seems more appropriate as the Tennessee quarterback was sacked seen times in their loss at Houston 20-6.
“Offensively we haven’t executed at the level we need to execute at, myself included,” said Mettenberger. “There are a few plays I would like to have back but at the same time there is a lot of good out there that we can build on it is just that we have to get over the hump and hopefully you guys will see that when we show up to work tomorrow.”
It’s about time the Titans addressed the real problem with their offense – the offensive line. Yes, the line. The Titans/Oilers have managed to draft some top-flight talent under center the past 20 years and have seen all their careers disintegrate before their eyes.
First, there was Steve McNair out of Alcorn State who set NCAA records passing. At Houston/Tennessee he became more of a running quarterback – not by nature but because he was running for his life. Sure, the Titans went to the Super Bowl under McNair but one forgets he missed half the season because of injuries.
McNair never lived up to his potential because he HAD to be a mobile quarterback. Injuries took their toll on the Titan franchise quarterback and he was sent packing to the Baltimore Ravens. In 2007 McNair flourished as a passer and reminded everyone what a great passer he really was.
Then the Titans drafted Vince Young, runner up for the Heisman and fresh off a BCS National Championship for Texas over USC. Within five years he was bounced out of the league.
Then came the draft of Jake Locker. Locker was on everyone’s watch list while at Washington. His junior and senior season he was a prohibitive favorite for the Heisman but injuries slowed him down. The Titans drafted the big-armed quarterback but he ended up in the infirmary more than he did on the field as he was banged around every game he was on the field. He even tried to take the Steve McNair route and become a running quarterback but that didn’t work out. He retired after last season and that brings us to 2015.
With the second overall draft pick this year the Titans choice current Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. After a dream of a first game where he threw an NFL-tying record for a rookie debut throwing four touchdown passes (all in the first half) it has been all downhill for Mariota and the Titans since. Tennessee has not won since the opener and Mariota has run for his life – at least until two weeks ago when he sprained his MCL on yes, a late hit in the Dolphins game. But a hit is a hit and Mariota has missed his last two starts. Mettenberger was a spot starter last year as he played in what became a quarterback by committee system as all three quarterbacks (let’s not forget about Charlie Whitehurst) as all three rotated in and out from behind center. As soon as one healed it seemed another went down to injury even if it was for only a week or two.
The Titans hoped to right the ship against the Houston Texans who despite having one of the most feared defensive lines in pro football managed to give up over 35 points in two of their last four games.
“Obviously, coming off a game like we did last week, where we had missed tackles and giving up big plays like that, we just wanted to go and focus all week in practice about the small things. I think today, we kind of put on a display of that,” said Texans CB Johnathan Joseph. “Guys were doing their assignments, running to the ball, creating turnovers, getting quarterback sacks, interceptions and all those things to help the team win.”
But it wasn’t the case as the seven sacks and three turnovers spelled doom for the Titans who fell to 1-6.
Ironically the Titans took a 3-0 lead only to fall behind thanks to a Brian Hoyer touchdown and a fumble on the ensuing kickoff that set up a field goal as the Texans went into the half with a 10-3 lead. The Titans got close in the third quarter with a 44-yard field goal by Ryan Succop, but the Texans reeled off another ten points to make the final 20-6.
The game was a defensive struggle on both sides of the ball but the Texans came on top because of their ability to sack Mettenberger and by winning the turnover battle collecting three against Tennessee.
“Yeah, we played a lot better, and it was good. It was a lot more fun, that’s for damn sure,” said Watt who accounted for 2.5 of the seven sacks. “We forced turnovers, we got sacks, we stopped the run. We just played better. I think it started early in the game, we started getting some energy and some momentum, and we kept it rolling all game, and our offense obviously put some points on the board. As the game went on, it got better and better, so it was a good all around game, and I think we did a good job.”
“We just got to get back to work. This group has a lot of pride, we are all grown men and I mean it’s tough,” said Titans CB Coty Sesabaugh. “No one said it would be easy, it’s not supposed to be easy. It’s the NFL, but at the end of the day we are blessed to be in this position so we just have to get back to work and compete. Try to turn this thing around. We can’t give up.”
The Titans will give it another try Sunday as they take on the New Orleans Saints. Kickoff is 1pm and the game will be aired on CBS.
– Dave Weinthal
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