Originally posted on Buffalo Wins  |  Last updated 12/2/11


Yes, Bills fans, the season is pretty much done and for most, you won't be able to see Sunday's game as it is blacked out in WNY. However, that doesn't mean you can't get educated about the Titans. Alright, I can't think of a silver lining. I should just start doing a draft or free agent preview. Anyways, its Bills and Titans. This week, we are joined by the boys over at Total Titans to help dissect this match-up. Wanna know about Matt Hasselbeck's play? Chris Johnson's sluggish start? Strenghths and weaknesses? Bud Adams? Of course you don't, but I do! If you want to read my responses to their questions, check out their site.

 

1) How has Matt Hasselbeck looked for you guys this year?

Matt Hasselbeck is a solid professional quarterback who shows up to work and works hard, and can throw the ball where he wants to throw it. After all of the drama and inaccuracy at the quarterback position the past five or so years for the Titans, that's a refreshing and relaxing change. He's not a deep threat at all, and even at this point in the season, there are weekly multiple miscommunications between Hasselbeck and the receivers both subtle and major. We think most of those are on the receivers, who are by and large a very unimpressive group, but can't be sure. When he's at his best, he's throwing very accurate short and intermediate passes quickly off of three- and five-step drops.

2) Chris Johnson was very sluggish at the start of the season, I should know, as my fantasy team sucked because of him. He's been getting hot lately, why is that?

Johnson has recently put up good numbers against the Panthers and now the Buccaneers, but for somewhat different reasons. Against the Panthers, he had great success in the same situations where he had success the first ten games of the season: when the offensive line was able to put him in a position where there were no defenders in his immediate line of sight or a defender off to the side and he could run to the green grass. The Titans used a lot more counter plays than normal to get those results. It also doesn't help that the Panthers have really struggled in the front seven, especially at linebacker, this year.

Against the Buccaneers, for the first time this season, Chris Johnson ran like he did in 2009. I'm not sure he has the same fourth gear ("running away from the cops speed", as Gus Johnson dubbed it), but he finally ran with vision, cutting away from defenders instead of curling up and getting ready for the hit, and made people miss with agility and short area quickness. The offensive line had another good game, like they did against the Panthers, and the Bucs are another team that struggles at defensive tackle and particularly linebacker, in the run game, but Johnson made a lot of yards for himself. A performance like the one Sunday makes me think that whatever limited him the first ten games was largely mental, and he could have another strong game this week, but I want to see it first. I'd still start him in fantasy (I wouldn't have against the Falcons), but have no confidence he'll run like he did against the Bucs.

3) If you were the Bills offensive and defensive coordinator, how would you attack the Titans?

I'm not sure I know the Bills' personnel well enough to suggest this, but against the Titans I'd play primarily man coverage because the Titans' wideouts don't scare me, and concentrate on not missing tackles after the catch. Against the run, I still concentrate on setting the edge and forcing Chris Johnson to stay between the tackles, where even in 2009 he was much less effective. The Titans can be run on by a decent running team. I'm not sure the Bills are that right now, but the defensive tackles have trouble holding the point of attack and keeping the linebackers clean consistently. I'd just line up and pound it between the tackles if I believe in my offensive line at all. Offensively, do I trust my quarterback to be able to throw the ball accurately in small windows in short and intermediate areas? When the quarterback has that capability, they've been able to pick apart the Titans' secondary this year. Players who don't trust their reads or struggle to hit those windows have struggled.

4) Who do the Bills have to look for on the Titans defense as a threat on the front 7?

Uh... nobody? If you have an NFL-caliber offensive line and have seen an end-tackle stunt before, you can protect effectively against the  Titans. They have 21 sacks on the year, but nine of those came against the Browns and Panthers. The Titans will play defensive line games, and basically have to because they have nobody who can win consistently 1v1 against below-average or better offensive lineman. RDE Dave Ball is a good complementary player, and he's probably the best rusher on the team.

5) How do you guys feel about Bud Adams? I feel our fan bases have kind of a connection because our owners are old and crazy.

Bud keeps pretty quiet most of the time these days. In fact, I don't think he's really opened his mouth since the coaching change back in January. Us old Houstonians are very happy about that.

6) Any rumblings about wanting to see Jake Locker?

Locker saw his first semi-extensive action a couple weeks ago, playing for about a quarter and a half against the Falcons after Hasselbeck went out with an elbow injury. Hasselbeck had been struggling thanks to the Falcons' pass rush; not really going down, but struggling with a muddied pocket. Locker's mobility let him be more effective, and a moribund Titans offensive got some life, leading to some calls for Locker. Personally, though, what I noticed was Locker did absolutely nothing inside the pocket and looked to leave it quickly, so I don't want to see him. It looks like the Titans are closer to my position, and are happy to see Locker sit this year as long as Hasselbeck can play. I expect him to be all but handed the job next training camp, though.

7) I'll be honest, I haven't watched one Titans game this year. You are 6-5, but I couldn't tell you anything particular that you guys do well. Are you guys for real?

I was really down on the team heading into this year; I said 5-11, give or take two games. Obviously at 6-5 they've exceeded my expectations, but I still don't think much of the team. The defense has been stronger than I thought it'd be, especially against the pass, though they've also looked really vulnerable at times. The offense is really up and down. Really, though, they've done a pretty good job against mediocre or worse teams, and lost to good teams aside from an early-season upset of the Ravens before star wideout Kenny Britt was lost for the season. If they played the NFL's ten best teams, half home and half away, I think they'd go about 2-8.

8) Who wins and why?

Every week I review the opposing team's previous game and give a sort of outlook for this week's game. I haven't watched the Bills-Jets game yet, and probably won't until Saturday, but my mantra this year feels like "this is close enough the team that plays better will win." If Fitzpatrick can hit enough passes against the Titans underneath coverages, and Chris Johnson doesn't go off, the Bills will win. If Fitzpatrick looks like Colt McCoy did, or if CJ goes off like he's capable of, the Titans will win. I'll say Fitzpatrick makes enough plays, and the Bills win 17-13.

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