As I watched the Tennessee Titans play their second preseason game, I found myself jumping back and forth between optimism and pessimism. Between hope and despair. Certain players looked great. Certain players didn’t. Certain positions groups looked regular-season ready. Certain position groups looked ready for the cut list. I figured I might as well share my thoughts with my 37 loyal readers. Let’s start on a high note. (To facilitate easy comprehension, I’ve included cutting-edge images to communicate my feelings for each entry.)
Hope: Quarterback Marcus Mariota. He is the real deal. At this point in his second preseason, he is the best looking QB the Titans have fielded since Steve McNair was in his prime. Mariota is poised, accurate, decisive, and shows flashes of that otherworldly athleticism that was his bread and butter in college. Yet, it is obvious that he is a pass first QB, never looking to run too soon. He is willing and able to allow the play to develop and then find his man down the field. He made one mistake in the preseason game and it turned into an interception, but his main error there was having too much confidence in how he was throwing the ball. The more time he spends on the field, the better he will become. I’m not a huge fan of the phrase, “the sky is the limit” but in Mariota’s case, I can’t think of anything else that is more fitting. My man-crush on Mariota has reached an almost uncomfortable level and I am totally okay with that.
Despair: First Team Defense. So far, the first team defense has done very little to get me excited. They allowed San Diego to move the ball with ease. Carolina continued that trend. The most concerning aspect of the defense’s poor performance has been their tackling. It’s sloppy. At this point, my only hope is that defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is holding back so much in the game plan that once the season starts we will all look back on these preseason games and laugh at our lack of faith. It’s a tenuous hope at best.
Hope: Wide Receiver Tajae Sharpe. A fifth round rookie wide receiver is not supposed to look this good. He is playing the position in a way that no Titan’s receiver has since Derrick Mason wore the two-tone blue. That is both very cool and very sad at the same time. Blast the Titans’ management and their inability to draft a competent receiver! All evidence points to Sharpe breaking that awful trend which means that general manager Jon Robinson might be the first Titan’s GM to be able to draft talent at the position in over a decade.
Despair: Cornerback Antwon Blake. I hate to single out one guy but in this case, Blake earned it. Every pass thrown to his receiver was completed. He missed an easy tackle on Ted Ginn Jr that resulted in a 61-yard score. He was bad in every element of the game, missing tackles, let his man get open, and wearing a stupid number for a cornerback. 47? Seriously, when did cornerbacks start wearing numbers like that?
Hope and Despair: I truly hope the Titans never wear that terrible uniform combination again. White on white looks bad and makes the team look soft. I think they play softer too. So, for this week, it gets a despair because I have no reason to believe they won’t pull that combo out again, but I am hoping to be wrong.
There you have it. Join us next week as we evaluate the third preseason game against the Raiders as well as take a closer look at the regular season schedule. Also, we will spend some time discussing our favorite salted, cured meats. Hint: pastrami is a secret weapon on most sandwiches. Don’t sleep on it.