Washington Redskins Week #11 Preview: Tennessee Titans
*Vince Young arrived in the NFL four years ago with an even more ballyhooed skill set at quarterback than Michael Vick. Like Vick, he could run like a deer and flick passes sixty yards with little to no effort. Young led his Texas Longhorns to a national championship and technically is the Heisman Trophy winner (considering Reggie Bush had to give back the award for cheating). And while Young has been a two-time Pro Bowler for the Tennessee Titans (5-4), questions about his toughness and durability linger. A week ago, he was supposedly nursing a bum ankle. So Kerry Collins, the ageless wonder out of Penn State, got the nod as starter in Miami. But after Collins went down with a calf injury, Young came off the bench and seemed to be fine. He could not rally the Titans in a 29-14 Dolphins’ victory. But why didn’t he start? His passer rating of 97.6 is the fifth best in the league and his touchdown-to-interception ratio (10 to 3) would have Redskin fans salivating and a certain diminutive owner grabbing his checkbook to offer tens of millions if Young was available. Yet, Young can’t beat out a journeyman signalcaller like Collins in the twilight of his career? Jeff Fisher is the longest tenured head coach in the NFL and is well-respected for doing much with little.
The Titans offense is buoyed by the blistering speed of Chris Johnson, the remarkable 2,000 yard tailback out of East Carolina. His rushing numbers are way down at this point (838 yards at a modest 4.3 yards-per-carry). His back-up, Javon Ringer, actually averages more per carry (4.54). The receiving corp has a future Hall-of-Famer in Randy Moss (who caught just one ball in his Titans’ debut) and a future superstar in Kenny Britt (who torched the Philadelphia Eagles recently for three TD grabs just days after being arrested outside a Nashville nightclub). The Titans defense lost a lot of great players (Kyle Vanden Bosch, Keith Bullock, etc.) to free agency and is a rather mundane, faceless unit. They knocked both Dolphin quarterback Chads (Pennington and Henne) out of the game a week ago and still couldn’t stop unknown Tyler Thigpen from pulling out the game. So the Titans’ defense is vulnerable.
The Monday Night Massacre
Enough has been written about the Washington Redskins’ no-show effort on Monday evening vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. Even Skins’ owner Dan Snyder called the performance “embarrassing” at a University of Maryland function yesterday. This is the same man who gave us Joe Gibbs II. Could Marty Schottenheimer II be in the offing? He changes coaches like Lady Gaga changes meat outfits. Anything is possible.
The good news is a team can’t play any worse than it did on Monday. Loyalists will say there is only way to go. Realists will say something else. Legitimately, if Michael Vick and the Eagles wanted to, they could have laid triple digits on that defense. They had thirty-five points one play into the second quarter. In past columns, I called Jim Haslett’s 3-4 defensive scheme “bend but don’t break”. The Eagles done broke the defense, picked up the pieces and scattered them in the Potomac River on their way up I-95. Nearly 600 yards allowed. Despite the earlier reference, Shanny is not going anywhere. But Haslett will. Somebody has to be the scapegoat.
I am a St. Louis Cardinal fan in baseball. All-World Albert Pujols is entering the final year of his pact. I am fearful he will walk at season’s end and head to the riches of Boston, Los Angeles or New York. Donovan McNabb was a free-agent-to-be too. Until the Skins coughed up nearly $80,000,000 in potential salary for five years. A week after benching him in crunchtime late at Detroit. Now granted only $40,000,000 is guaranteed and there is a $4,000,000 escape clause after this season. But why would you sign an aging veteran who is having his worst season since his rookie campaign to that kind of bling? Admittedly, the offensive line is in shambles and the inconsistent receiving corp of Moss, Armstrong and Galloway isn’t going to make anyone forget The Fun Bunch. But a five-year deal for a 34-year old quarterback with the stats McNabb compiles? It’s obviously a PR ploy to keep that mammoth 91,000-seat complex at Fed Ex filled to the rafters. Gives Skins’ fans the false impression that this is your next Sonny Jurgensen. Your next Mark Rypien. Your next Gus Ferrotte. Somewhere Congressman Heath Shuler (D-NC) is smiling. Talk about pork barrel spending!
Pic’s Prediction: It’s Albert Haynesworth’s homecoming! The former Titan was almost a current Titan at the trade deadline. But someone in the Titan organization sobered up in time, put down that bottle of Tennessee moonshine, and pulled the plug on that deal. Haynesworth had been playing better. Until last week. In one embarrassing play where Vick threw the TD pass to Avant, Haynesworth fell on his face and laid there motionless while Vick scrambled around for what seemed like an eternity. It reminded me of those Life Call commercials where the ol’ woman screams, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” The Skins need Albert to remain upright this week. And on the field for a record 40 plays. Two struggling teams. The Titans have lost two in a row yet remain only a game out in their division. The Skins showed little pulse on either side of the ball on Monday. Ryan Torain and Clinton Portis will both play in this game. But I’m not even sure John Riggins and Larry Brown in their primes could help out this miserable 3rd down offense. I can’t see how the Skins bounce back in a short week in a hostile environment. If Jerome Harrison lit them up for triple figures on just eleven carries, I quake to think what Chris Johnson will do. Randy Moss has his first touchdown grab in his home debut. He torches DeAngelo Hall so badly the Hall of Fame gives #23 back his jersey from the Chicago game.
Tennessee 31, Washington 20
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