This grade was actually brought down by Bradford, who I thought looked good almost of his throws, but didn’t do as well of a job getting rid of the football. If Josh McDaniels is going to give him 4 and 5 receivers sets to work with, Sam will have to do himself a favor by making quicker reads and getting the ball out faster.
I think the Titans showed the blueprint on how to stop the McDaniels’ offense which is blitz and blitz often. Granted, it is really early still. Furthermore, I think it is safe to say that Josh McDaniels is nowhere close to revealing the capability of this offense.
I thought both AJ Feeley and Thad Lewis played well. Feeley had nice touch on the 19-yard touchdown to Donnie Avery. His quick release prevented Titans’ safety, Vincent Fuller, from getting over the top in time to get in position to make any play on the ball. Avery beat the corner with his speed and Feeley beat the safety with his quick release. As for Lewis, I’m sure the Rams are happy with what they have seen thus far out of him. In a week that saw Lewis’ sole competition for the third-string spot get cut, he put together a nice 4th quarter winning drive, finishing the game 8 for 10 for 74 yards.
Running backs: D
In a game that saw the opposing team’s back up running backs rush for over 180 yards, the Rams group was far from equal tonight. The debut of SJ39 was less than stellar. I know Jackson is getting use to this offense but I can’t help to think he looked a little uncomfortable in those single back looks. I personally think he is at his best when he is running downhill and is limited to one cut. We didn’t see that tonight.
Cadillac Williams led all Rams rushers tonight with 23 yards on 6 carries. Jerious Norwood had 4 carries for negative one yard. And Keith Totson did not fare much better going for 4 yards on 2 carries.
Offensive Line: C-
It would be easy to criticize this group after their performance in the first half with the pressure and the sacks. However, not all of that was on the O-line. I’d credit the Titans’ for aggressive playcalling, dialing up blitz after blitz in the first half. The Titans were overloading sides and catching the Rams in some slide protections tonight. Also, some of those quarterback hurries and sacks are on the quarterback and receivers. If safeties and cornerbacks are coming on blitz, it is the responsibility of the quarterback and the WRs to beat that with quick releases on the part of the quarterback and hot routes on the part of the receivers.
Overall, I’m not terribly concerned with the pressure the Titans were able to achieve. This is the kind of stuff you iron out during the preseason. If they were getting beat physically I’d have some concern.
On a different note, the run game was not good tonight. To me, this was the biggest difference between week one and week two. However, I think it is okay to give the group the benefit of the doubt that their performance is not any indication of regression. Roger Saffold was banged up. They were missing a starter in Jacob Bell. There was mixing and matching players early. All of these are factors, but this will be definitely something to watch for going forward.
Tight Ends & Receivers: C-
It’s fun to look at a box score and see 14 different guys catch the football. However, that was about the only thing exciting about this group tonight (with exception to the first play of the game of course. With the competition as tight as it is to make this team, it seems like no one is really setting themselves apart.
Gibson had an 83-yard touchdown pass to start the game that had just as much to do with the play action fake on the part of Bradford as it did with him beating the coverage. Sims-Walker had some mistakes in routes tonight. Donnie Avery looked like he has recovered well. I’d like to see him get some time with the first unit next week. He did burn a rookie DII cornerback tonight for a touchdown. After Greg Salas dropped an easy catch late in the game, Thad Lewis targeted him on the next two plays for catches. Austin Pettis is no longer taking reps with the first-team unit. Mardy Gilyard and Danarnio Alexander did some nice things tonight after the catch. After two games, I think the only locks to make the team in this group are Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola.
As for the tight end position, it was good to see Fendi Onobun getting involved there at the end. Fendi is such a unique talent. It would be great if he could continue to progress and make this team. Rookie Lance Kendricks had a catch. Again, nothing special tonight from this group.
Defensive line: D
The first unit did not get much playing time. But before they took the rest of the night off they were gashed with a couple of big runs. The Titans are good up front. The bad news is that it wasn’t Chris Johnson, one of the NFL’s most elite running backs that was gashing them for big runs all night. In fact, it wasn’t even Johnson’s backup, Javon Ringer. It was their third, fourth and even fifth string backs.
Rookie Jamie Harper led the Titans in rushing, stringing together a few big gains – most notably the 45-yarder on nice cutback in the 2nd quarter. St. Louisian and CBC HS product, Herb Donaldson along with Stafon Johnson also put together a nice night.
The defense had success in the second half when applying pressure on Jake Locker, but a majority of that was a result of Spags bringing pressure off the edges and LBs and DBs.
It was great to see James Laurinaitis in the horns tonight. However, I don’t think this unit played well at times tonight. They were covered up a few times tonight which lead to big running lanes. In addition, there were a few occasions where they were too aggressive and over persuade the play, which led to some big runs on cut backs. The upside is Jabara Williams looks like a player. He’s made some real nice plays three weeks in a row (including the scrimmage).
This unit held the Titans’ receiving core to one reception in the first half. Call me a homer, but I truly think Bradley Fletcher is coming into his own. We’ll know for sure by Week 1 where he stacks up when he has to line up against the self-proclaimed “dream team”. The thing I like most about Fletcher is that I feel like he’s progressed every week it seems like since he first got the starting nod midway through his rookie year. He had two nice pass break ups tonight.
Also, Al Harris made a nice play tonight. Justin King remains to be an intriguing player. At times, you see the Justin King that was once considered a 1st-round pick and then there are other times when you wonder if he’ll make this team. The biggest concern I have with Justin is his inability to wrap up when trying to make a tackle.
The play of the safeties was pretty good. James Butler had a nice interception and could have had six if Darian Stewart would have finished his block on Jake Locker. Newcomer Quintin Mikell led all Rams with 5 tackles. Rookies Jermale Hines and Jonathan Nelson played well. Nelson looks like a pretty sure tackler.
Special Teams – A The punt coverage unit got a lot of practice. They looked like they were in midseason form. Josh Brown hit the game winner not once but twice. He seems to have officially knocked off the rust from the first couple of weeks of practice.