Stillers-Titans Post Game Analysis & Grades:
Like the game at Tampa last year, this game was a must-win, do or die event. Sure, it was not mathematical, but that game, like this one in Nashville, was supposedly a let-it-all-hang-out, die with your boots on kind of game. And guess what? Just as in Tampa, we barely let out much more than a whimper, in a repeat performance that showed as much urgency and fire as a welfare recipient perusing the want ads in the local paper. From the game plan, to the playing, to the tactical decisions, there was a prominent dearth of gusto and a complete lack of a "we are here to WIN" attitude. It was readily apparent that the Stillers were content to play their usual brand of slothmouth, not smashmouth, football, in which the entire teams sloths around for an afternoon in hopes of maybe --- maybe --- finding themselves with a couple more points on the scoreboard than their opponent. Not once -- not even when the offense tied the game on the Edwards TD -- did this team appear ready, eager, and downright insistent that they were going to win this game. Rather, they slopped around for 4 quarters, hoping to stick close, and in the end, committed their usual plethora of blunders that typically haunt mediocre teams with poor leadership, poor coaching, and poor impact playmaking.
QB: The Western Union Man had his usual slop game, going 18-30 for 177 yards. While the 177 yards -- relatively speaking for Stewart -- might be cause for Tom Donahoe to issue another contract extension, Stewart played at his usual mediocre level. A couple of balls were dropped, and 1 rare but nicely thrown deep bomb to Ward was batted away at the last second. But another lob to Ward down the sideline was a smidgen underthrown, allowing the d-back to bat the ball away. A play that really drew my ire was the deep post to Breuner, who was doubled covered, with a deep safety rumbling over, ready to deliver a big hit. The Western Union Man STARED at Bruner from the snap of the ball, and it's inexcusable as to why Stewart would force such a pass into triple-coverage, as is why Stewart could not look away and find SOMEONE else wide open. Another poor throw was the out to Troy on 3d & 2 right after the 1st half 2-min warning. Stewart threw horribly off his back foot, and the ball sailed, as can be expected, far over Troy's head. We had to try a FG the next play, which was no good. Want more? How 'bout the jackassed throw to Edwards, standing at the 5-yard line, on 3d & goal from the 6, deep into the 4th qtr?? And, in a moment that Xerox will surely use in a future TV commercial, Stewart threw a hideous screen pass that bounced off Faneca's back, and was INT'd, late in the game (quite similar to last week's hideous INT). Piss poor. Finally, Stewart made the ESPN crew look doubly-smart after ESPN's pregame showed the RIDICULOUS deep drops Stew takes on occasion. Stewart did it again today, and once dropped right back into an easy sack. D.
RB: Bus, running some good quick-hitters, piled up 88 yards on only 14 carries. Whenever ordered to run a Whaleshit Counter, he was engulfed for losses or no gain, but in all he ran hard and well. Hunt had only 3 rushes, but did have 2 grabs for 28 yards. Fu was in on 1 early play, as a RB in the shotgun. A.
FB: Witman was his usual overpaid, mediocre self, chipping in a couple ok blocks, but also clogging up some lanes, and on one 2d qtr. plunge, getting blasted onto his back by a defender. HE caught his usual 3-yard dink pass, and since Tenn. didn't even bother to cover him, he rumbled upfield for a whopping 7 yard gain. C.
WR: Another usual day for our WR corps, which Dumbahoe called "the best we've ever had" way back at camp. Shaw actually led the way today, with 3 grabs for 38 yards. He showed good smarts in getting to the sticks, and he also showed some good RAC work. Will Jackwell had 4 grabs for 41 yards, but one was basically a 13-yarder in which the DB simply fell on a yard-stripe, allowing Jackwell to gain 22. Troy had only 2 grabs, with 1 being the 15-yard TD. He did drop a pass in tight coverage on 3d & 3. The two STARTERS barely did dick. Ward had 3 grabs for 20 yards, and was also called for holding. Hawkins, who Cowher has INSISTED on starting for nearly 2 seasons now, had 2 grabs for a prolific 12 yards. C.
TE: Bruener, the irreplaceable multi-million dollar TE, had no receptions. (He did have two passes thrown his way, both inc.) Lyons had 1 grab for 7. C+.
OL: The line play was mostly solid today. The crew opened up some gaping holes for Bus to ramble through. Some of the bonehead false starts really hurt. At 1 point in the 3d qtr, we went from a comfortable 3d & 2, to 3d & 12, due to false farts by Brown and Gandy. A couple times Brown allowed Kearse to turn the corner a bit quicker than we'd have liked, but overall Brown was borderline ok in facing a true stud like Kearse. The man who smelled like a pigpen was none other than the appropriately named Brendan PigStai. It was Stai who mimicked a swinging gate and allowed the man to force the safety, and in the 4th qtr, Stai sloppily let his man by, who punished Stew as he released a pass. Stai, F. All others, B-.
DL: The entire line was fairly quiet today. Yes, there were a few good stuffs, like Henry chipping in on a 1st qtr. plunge to thwart George on 3d & 1. Still, they allowed George some ample room to run, and the pocket push was totally non-existent. Staat committed a jackassed offsides penalty (some stiffs will do anything to show up on the stats-sheet), which aided the 2d Tenn. TD drive. On the 3d & 1 stuff of George in the 1st drive, which would have forced a punt, Fat Joel Steed foolishly encroached, giving Tenn. a freebie 1st down. The very next play, McNair hit Sanders on the deep post for a 46-yard play. C-.
LB: This was your typical day from our LB crew --- stout play by the ILBs, and the FBI scurrying about, wasting precious resources, responding to a missing person's report for the OLBs. Kirk and Holmes had solid days stuffing the run. George did gouge us for some good gainers, but Holmes burst in to bust up several plays, and Kirk played some good hits, as well as solid pass coverage. As for the OLBs, these 2 stiffs may as well not even dressed today. Neither man showed any more interest in playing hard-nosed football today, than the DMV shows in providing speedy service. Each TD was the direct result of total ineptitude and gutless effort by an OLB. On the 1st TD, in which McNair rolled right and kept into the EZ, Gildong was out wide on a WR (talk about a mismatch!). The WR slanted in, and then easily pushed and tied up Gildon for several seconds, causing the budding pro-bowler to be a total non-factor as McNair casually cruised to the EZ. On the 2d TD, in which McNair copied the 1st TD but ran left, Emmons was literally pushed by the TE 4 yards BACK, beyond the goal line, and then just stood and watched as others desperately tried to stop McNair. I reviewed this a dozen times on video, and I was mortified. Not surprised, of course --- since Emmons accepts blocks as hassle-free as most merchants accept Visa --- but mortified. (Perhaps Emmons can be used in a future Visa commercial. They could show a real LB -- like Kearse -- blasting a blocker, and compare that to AMEX, and then they could show Carlos happily accepting a block, and compare this to Visa.) Gildon, it should be noted, participated in ALL 58 plays Tennessee ran from scrimmage, and recorded ZERO tackles. 0 tackles, 0 assists, 0 sacks, 0 QB pressures, 0 hits on RBs, 0 everything. Gildong literally imitated a donut-ingesting traffic cop, and stood around & watched plays happen ALL DAY LONG, without so much as raising a forearm in protest. ILBs, B. OLBs, F-.
DB: Facing a pretty good crew of WRs, the DBs played solidly. DeShea was abused on the deep post by Sanders early on, in which Sanders froze him and then went deep. But it was Travis Gayvis who was supposed to provide help, and, for once, was actually in position to do so. But Davis clumsily was flatfooted as the ball arrived, and was easily out-jumped. DeWayne had some nice tackles. Townsend did a good job of smelling the fake-reverse throw back to the TE, and also ended that play with a good wrap. Flowers had some good stops, though he & Shields collided on what should have been an easy INT on a ball off of Wychek's hands. B+.
Spec Teams: Josh had a strong day, averaging 52 yards. The coverage teams were their usual spotty selves. Porter did swoop in nicely on 1 return. Hawk did little returning punts, as did Jackwell on KOs. Brown barely missed a crucial 44-yard FG. C+.
Off Coord: Kevin Gaypride has little to be proud of from this game. Aside from ESPN making him look like an ass in their pre-game show, which spotlighted on Stewart's ridiculous 9-step drops, Gilbride looked like a ninny. Witness the 10-yard hitch to Blackie on the 1st drive of the 2d half, on 3d & 14. How about the 3d & goal from the 6, late in the game, in which a pass was attempted to Troy, who was at the 5?? WHY is Edwards even THERE on this play, as opposed to being in the EZ? How about the hideous sequence on the game's final drive? We began on our own 9, with 3:15 left an NO timeouts. 1st play -- 2-yard out to Blackwell. Rather than having 2 plays called during the change of possession after the punt, Gaypride called only ONE, and the offense waddled back to the huddle, wasting loads of time, since Blackie did not get OOB. We need to move the ball 91 yards for a TD, with no TOs, and Gaypride is wasting time like a prisoner on a life sentence. 3 plays later, we ran the ever-popular screen play, which Holmes INTd. A scrub of the video showed Holmes sniffing this play immediately after the ball was snapped, so much so that he was pawing at Huntley as Hunt set up for the pass. Humorously enough, Gaypride laid off his latent addiction for screens, until the 4th qtr, in which he then went hog-wild, which happens to most drug addicts who try to lay off a while and then go on a wild, hungry binge. The play that resulted in a safety was also a Gilbride abortion. This play was so botched up, that Hawkins was signaling for a TO. Even Lyons, who was rule an ineligible receiver on the play, said "It was really a confusing play." Sure, the refs seemed to have blown the call, since Lyons came in motion, and then set himself as a wingback OFF the line, not on the line. But when a play is so muddled and clusterfucked, that a WR has to attempt to call a TO (the refs failed to see this) and the TE admits "It was really a confusing play", then this is the OC's fault for poor preparation & rehearsal during the week. D.
Def Coord: Haslett's defense played fairly solidly most of the game. They allowed George to gash them a bit too much, but they limited McNair's passing & running. The worst error by Asslet was not getting pressure on McNair. Not only was McNair not sacked, but he was never in any real danger of being sacked. McNair could have eaten a Primanti's sandwich back in the pocket, and still had time to set it down on a plate and toss passes. B-.
Head Coach: As I stated in my pre-game report, I heard all I needed to know, when the mule-stubborn Cowhead said "No changes". Cowher is the "Change Nazi", and anyone who wants change is sternly told, "No change for you!" See, Cowhead is STILL convinced, that with some more practice and games, his 15-Cent, Nickel & Dime Offense CAN work in the NFL. Cowhead is too pompous, too arrogant, too proud, and ultimately --- too damn stupid --- to change an offensive philosophy that insists on trying to (eventually) kill the enemy by slicing it 17 times with a 3-inch jackknife. Field Goal Bill surely had a heavy hand in the 1st & goal from the 8 sequence late in the game, which saw us REFUSE to throw the ball into the EZ. It was obvious that Cowher did not view this game as a do-or-die type game; Bill myopically feels that he's got another 5 weeks to right the ship. Marty Jr. should be really pleased with himself after this loss, and it'll be amusing to hear more poppycock from the overpaid extortioner this week. F.
Stick in the fork --- they're done. Maybe not mathematically, but that's just a mere formality that only foolhardy dunces cling to. The season is over; the playoffs are out of reach. There's too many teams who have large advantages over us in playoff tiebreakers. Plus, how in the love of Pete could this team possibly win, say, 5 of their last 6?? No can do. You don't just flip a switch and become a good football team. The coaching, impact playmaking, and leadership is nowhere near the level you need to win consistently against above-average teams in the NFL. The time is NOW --- unlike last season --- to acknowledge this, and consequently start giving more & more PT to the youngsters. Last season, as you may recall, Cowhead staunchly insisted on playing the CJ's, the Hawk's, the Carlos's, the McAfee's, et al, rather than getting more looks at youngsters, and getting those men some more experience and PT. Of course, asking Bill Cowhead to give additional PT to youngsters, when we are out of the playoff chase, is asking a bit much. His reply will simply be, "No change for you!".
The Still Mill