It’s been a disappointing season in Nashville to say the least. The Titans won 13 contests a year ago but have failed to find the win column through five games this season. They now face one of the most dangerous aerial combinations in the history of the game.
Tom Brady and Randy Moss may be salivating at Sunday’s matchup with the Titans defense, which has allowed an AFC-most 287.6 passing yards per game and 13 passing touchdowns this season.
As for handling the run, the Titans have had no problems in that department, even after the loss of defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and his 51 tackles in 14 games last year in Tennessee. The Titans’ front line of Jevon Kearse, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Tony Brown and Jovan Haye is one of the most feared foursomes in the game. They’ve held the opposition to just 75.4 rushing yards per game this season, third lowest in the NFL behind just the Steelers and Cardinals, last year’s Super Bowl squads.
Tennessee has had very good luck against some of the NFL’s top rushers this season, including Willie Parker (19 yards), Steve Slaton (34 yards), Thomas Jones (20 yards), Joseph Addai (27 yards) and Maurice Jones-Drew (14yards).
With Bill Belichick and his Fred Taylor-less offense likely to ditch the run this weekend, don’t be surprised to see Titans head coach Jeff Fischer unleash fury on the Patriots’ rookie left tackle Sebastian Vollmer, as the second-round draft pick is likely to start for the injured Matt Light. Getting in Brady’s face is essential for the Titans in their quest to limit New England’s ticking time-bomb offense.
“Pass protection is going to be key,” ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss told host Cole Wright on Wednesday night’s edition of SportsDesk. “[The Titans] can get there with four players up front and drop seven but they’ve struggled in pass coverage, [and] they’ve got banged up cornerbacks.”
Three starters in Tennessee’s secondary — corners Cortland Finnegan and Nicholas Harper as well as safety Michael Griffin — all missed Wednesday’s practice with injuries. If Vollmer and the rest of the Pats’ front line can fend off the Titans’ pass rush, then hooking up with Moss, Wes Welker and either Julian Edelman or Joey Galloway should be routine and relentless for Brady.
“I do think that this is the week it’s going to come together for this passing offense,” Reiss added. “Expect Joey Galloway, who’s been inactive the last two weeks, to get out on the field — that No. 3-receiver spot continues to be a problem for the Patriots. If they want to turn the corner and be that three-receiver offense that we’ve seen the past couple of years, this is the week to get it back on track with a good opponent coming to town for that.”
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