Grade Upped for Tim Lewis; Thoughts on Defense
Due to new evidence and information, I'm submitting a grade change at the registrar's office for Tim Lewis' grade, which had been a D+. Much of that grade was the result of the premise that Lewis a.) called the defensive TO late in the game, and b.) Lewis called the absurd defense that was used on the game-winning 4th and 8 play.
From Cowhead's weekly press conference, it turns out that unless Cowher is trying to mask the real truth, the culprit is Cowher himself. In a rare fit of accepting responsibility, Cowhead readily admitted that it was his decision not to shade extra coverage toward WR D. Mason, who was the ONLY wide receiver on the field who had ever caught an NFL pass. Coupled with the info that it was Cowhead, not Lewis, who called the TO just before the 4th & 8, I'll increase Lewis' grade to a C- and reduce the grade of Cowhead -- the guy who claimed he thought the Titans would punt --- from a D to an F. Cowher claimed after the game that he didn't want to "rush" into making a defensive playcall for this play. From review of the tape, 52 seconds elapsed from the time the 3rd down play ended, and the time the ref came out of his conference and ruled, "The play stands as called�." Cowhead needed EXTRA time, beyond that freebie 52-second timewaster by the refs, to call a defense that left the ONLY NFL-caliber WR unchucked and un-shaded with extra coverage, and used the best pass rusher to cover and the little cover guys to rush.
I'm sure some of yunz will question the C- grade for Lewis, thinking that perhaps it should be higher. Nnnot so fast. First off, the TO we WASTED in the 3rd quarter, was due to DE Chris Sullivan initially running off the field, but then turning around at the hash marks and coming back to the formation. With the Titans nearly ready to snap the ball, the defense had to call a TO. Any clusterflub like this must be blamed on the DC.
Secondly, Lewis' inane babbling in the Trib Review did nothing to help his cause, as follows:
* But defensive coordinator Tim Lewis said he didn't believe it was necessary to double-team Mason, even though he was the only wide receiver on the field in the fourth quarter with a catch in an NFL game. Mason was joined by wide receivers Chris Coleman, an undrafted rookie, and Chris Jackson, who had been signed last week from the practice squad.
"We felt our guys could cover him," said Lewis, who blitzed defensive backs Deshea Townsend and Jason Simmons on the play. "That's the bottom line. Why not double (tight end Frank) Wycheck? He's the leading receiver on their team. Why not double No. 27 (running back Eddie George)? He's one of the leading rushers in the league, but also one of the leading receivers in the NFL in third-down situations."
"That's a crazy, preposterous statement, other than (Mason) had caught some balls early in the game."
Oh, up yours, Lewis, you Cowher-loving homo!! With injuries to Pickens and Sanders, McNair was left with scrubs at WR! Jackson had just been signed last week ---- McNair probably didn't even recognize him in the huddle, fer chrissakes. Coleman is an undrafted rookie. Neither has EVER caught a ball in an NFL game.
"...other than (Mason) had caught some balls early in the game." Early in the game, my ass!! Up yours, Lewis, you liar! In the 2nd-to-last drive, Mason caught a 10-yard curl. The last drive alone, Mason caught 12 & 16 yards passes, and was the intended receiver on the 3rd & 8 play that Townsend broke up. McNair was not even looking at those other scurbeenie, manure-laden receivers. Wycheck was certainly an option --- so CHUCK him at the line of scrimmage with a LB. But Mason should have been DOUBLE COVERED or jammed at the line with 1 defender and picked up by another. Period. No questions asked.
"Crazy and preposterous" ?? Oh, sure. Like dropping your BEST pass-rusher into coverage, and rushing the little DB guy who'd been covering superbly all day (Townsend) plus another 185-pound weakling, Simmons.
And lest anyone even think of muttering, "Well, maybe Porter was too tired to rush�" On the 1st play of that final drive, Porter nearly got to McNair. On the 3rd & 8 that preceded the fateful 4th-down play, Porter -- lined up at LOLB -- flushed McNair from the pocket.
On a related matter, I hate to rain on the D's parade�.but I can't stand for too much more fawning over this defense. Yes, the defense has played well. Overall, there's little to worry about, other than the softee play at LOLB and a few big pass plays here and there.
Lost in all of this Titan game, was that the defense -- just as much the stumbling offense, if not more -- contributed to allowing the Titans an ENORMOUS Time of Possession (TOP) advantage. Everyone bemoans the offense -- and they should --- but fails to look at the D.
1st Titan FG drive: 12 plays, 71 yards
2nd Titan FG drive: 13 plays, 75 yards.
3rd Titan FG drive: 10 plays, 62 yards
missed FG drive: 14 plays, 70 yards, 7:41 TOP.
The drive just before halftime, which made it 3-0 ?? We had the Bitans 1st and 30 and 2nd and 27, and couldn't stop those bastards from moving the sticks.
The 2nd Titan FG drive began at the Titan 12. After a George 2-yard plunge, McNair rolled to his right and was seemingly stopped for a sack. But Scott and Flowers both whiffed, and McNair bolted to the other side of the field for a 16-yard gain.
My point is that the defense ITSELF was enormously responsible for this "the defense was on the field all day" yelping. Yes, they played well. But had they made a stop or 2, they wouldn't have given up FOUR long, tedious marches. And had they gotten us the ball back quicker, we might have done more on offense. Then again, we may simply have punted a few more times.
Bonehead quote of the day: Cowher, when asked if the Titans shrewd use of continually using McNair on boots and rollouts, was something he'd like to see Stewart do, dryly replied, "The Titans have their offense and we have ours."
Still Mill Translation: "The Titans are smart enough to realize that Steve McNair is not a pure pocket-QB, and that he's pretty effective on rolls & boots. On the other hand, we're just stupid and stubborn, so we spent the entire day in Nashville keeping Stewart rooted to the pocket like a trapped animal. The Titans have their offense, which is pretty decent despite being ravaged by injuries to skill players, and we have our offense, which sucks."
The Still Mill