Sep 22, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver Justin Hunter (15) catches a pass for the winning touchdown against San Diego Chargers cornerback Crezdon Butler (20) during the second half at LP Field. The Titans beat the Chargers 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
The Jacksonville Jaguars are fresh off a bye week and head to Tennessee to face the re-emergent Titans. Third year quarterback Jake Locker has improved in a way that fellow draft class quarterback Blaine Gabbert hasn’t and Locker has plans to lead the Titans to the playoffs. The Titans have always been a thorn in the sides of Jaguar fans and the embarrassing performance of the team this year won’t change that. We decided to get some inside intel on the Titans from our Fansided bros over at Titan Sized.
Q. Jake Locker came into the league the same year as Blaine Gabbert and the two players have taken starkly different paths in their careers. Has Jake Locker done enough to convince you he’s the Titans’ quarterback of the future?
A. Locker has done enough to convince me that, at the very least, he strongly deserves at least one more season to build off what he has already proved. My biggest concern with him is whether he can stay healthy. When Locker gets pass protection, he has shown signs of brilliance. His accuracy and pocket awareness have noticeably improved this season. That trend must continue.
Q. Chris Johnson has been a disappointment since signing his huge contract a few years ago. What’s holding him back?
A. It’s not just one thing. Johnson has never enjoyed the Pro Bowl-level of consistency that he enjoyed when Mike Heimerdinger was the offensive coordinator. Since then, Chris Palmer (2011-12) and Dowell Loggains (2012-current) haven’t been able to concoct game plans that take advantage of his speed or acceleration. Then one must consider that teams can cheat against our run offense because of a lackluster pass offense, insufficient blocking, and Johnson playing too passively or heading East-to-West instead of downfield.
Q. The Jaguars have always had a bitter rivalry with the Titans going back to the days of Steve McNair. Do Titans’ fans hold the same animosity towards the Jaguars?
A. The rivalry is still alive. It’s not as heated as it was when both teams were fighting for playoff spots throughout the 2000s. Rivalries lose a little bit of their attractiveness when a team goes 4-25 since the Jack Del Rio era. Of course, it makes losing those two games at EverBank Field sting even more.
For what it’s worth, former Titan Sized contributor Carlos Beard ask our readers who our arch rival was back in July. Of 228 respondents, Jaguars received nine of the votes (3.9 percent).
Q. Which player on the Titans’ offense should the Jaguars game plan against?
A. The best way to take advantage of the Titans is winning the battle against an offensive line that hasn’t yet gelled. They have two aging offensive tackles and three newcomers on the interior of the offensive line, two of which are rookies. Collapse that five-man front? You’ll see a noticeable effect on Chris Johnson and Kendall Wright, the two playmakers who can create the most problems for the Jaguars defense.
Q. Which player on the Titans’ defense should the Jaguars game plan against?
A. Last season, the Titans had 14 sacks in two games against the Jaguars. Now the Titans have a more fierce pass-rush with Gregg Williams as a senior defensive assistant. For the Jaguars, it all starts in the trenches. Another seven-sack affair and this could get ugly quickly. Watch out for Jurrell Casey.
Q. What’s your prediction for the game?
A. Let’s just say that Tennessee will cover the 13.5-point spread. Only thing that would scare me is if this team starts looking ahead to their must-win Thursday Night Football game against the Indianapolis Colts. However, despite the records, the Titans have seen what the Jaguars (and the 2011 Colts) are capable of.
– Daniel Lago
Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89