Originally posted on Fox Sports Tennessee  |  Last updated 10/26/11
The Titans' running game caught most of the flak for the offense's struggles on Sunday against the Houston Texans, but the passing game had its issues as well. After a strong start, the Titans slipped to average through the air against Pittsburgh, and then fell far below that on Sunday. "I think misfiring is a good way to say it," said quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who was 14 of 30 for just 104 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. "We had some plays called back because of penalties, and we had some opportunities, but we just misfired." Hasselbeck's receivers didn't help him. Damian Williams lost a pass on a flea-flicker after a hard hit, and dropped a bomb on a deep post where he wound up getting hurt. Lavelle Hawkins has not had much impact, and Donnie Avery failed to keep both feet in bounds on what would have been his first catch as a Titan. Special teams had some issues as well on Sunday. Kickoff returns, in part because of the new rule, continue to be an issue, and against the Texans, as Titans Pro Bowl return return man Marc Mariani was hammered on one kickoff by, of all people, Houston kicker Neil Rackers, who submarined through the pile and blasted the Titans return man. "I told him after the game I didn't mean to walk over you like that. He said, 'You know what, that's the hardest I've been hit all year,'" Rackers told CBSSports.com. STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL QB Matt Hasselbeck hopes to bounce back from his worst performance as a Titan. Hasselbeck was just 14 of 30 for 104 yards with two picks against Houston. RB Chris Johnson, who insists he is not the problem in the run game, has to take a lot of the responsibility for the stats next to his name -- 298 yards rushing through six games. WR Nate Washington, who had been having a banner season thus far, caught just one pass against the Texans, but he still has a team-best 29 receptions for the season. TE Jared Cook's contributions continue to be spotty. He had a 5-yard touchdown Sunday, his second TD of the season, but the Titans need to get him more involved in the offense consistently. WR Damian Williams sat out the second half of Sunday's game with concussion symptoms, but he should be ready to return to practice and play this week. LB Will Witherspoon, who was believed to have blown the coverage that allowed Arian Foster a 78-yard touchdown reception, apologized to fans on Twitter for his performance Sunday. S Chris Hope is still not ready to return from his broken forearm, but he could be cleared to start practicing and doing scout team work soon. LB Colin McCarthy, who missed Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, should increase his running this week, but he might need another week to be active. DE William Hayes was out Sunday after suffering back spasms Friday. He could be back this week, however. LB Barrett Ruud suffered a shoulder burner in Sunday's game, but he said he was fine afterward. He will practice and play this week. QB Jake Locker came off the Titans bench for mop-up duty in the blowout against Houston and did manage to get his first NFL completion, a 12-yard pass to Lavelle Hawkins. RB Javon Ringer wound up being Tennessee's leading rusher with 31 yards on three carries, with his 25-yard run being the biggest gain of the day for the Titans. S Jordan Babineaux continues to start in place of injured Chris Hope, who has not been cleared to practice yet from a broken forearm. REPORT CARD VS. TEXANS PASSING OFFENSE: F -- After a stellar start, Matt Hasselbeck has struggled of late. On Sunday, he had his worst game as a Titan, going 14 of 30 for 104 yards with one touchdown and two picks. It wasn't all Hasselbeck's fault, however, as Damian Williams dropped a couple of passes and Donnie Avery could not keep his feet in bounds on a catch. RUSHING OFFENSE F -- Chris Johnson continues to struggle, gaining just 18 yards on 10 carries, and the whispers of what is wrong with him and the running game have become a topic that is not going away anytime soon. PASS DEFENSE F -- The Titans have had no answers the past two weeks for opposing quarterbacks. On Sunday, Matt Schaub threw for 296 yards and hit on 18 of 23 passes, missing just two throws after starting the game with three incompletions. RUSH DEFENSE F -- It's bad enough to allow one 100-yard rusher in a game, but to allow Arian Foster and his backup Ben Tate to both to go over 100 yards is simply not acceptable. SPECIAL TEAMS C -- Probably the best area of the team, but even they struggled at times. One kickoff return resulted in Marc Mariani being stopped at the 9-yard line. Another return resulted in Mariani getting blasted by kicker Neil Rackers. COACHING F -- For the second straight game, the Titans were outplayed and were especially flat in a game that had a lot riding on it. That simply cannot happen if the Titans are going to have any shot at contending.
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