Analysis: Titans defense to face challenges from Brady, Manning, Warner

Thursday, April 16, 2009 at 3:21am

Tom Brady

Now that the Tennessee Titans know who and when they will play, it is time to examine some of the quirks of their 2009 schedule.

Certainly at the top of the list is the grueling start, in which the Titans play four of six on the road and have dates with the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers in the Sept. 10 season opener, as well as back-to-back dates with Indianapolis and New England.

Getting Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in consecutive weeks on Oct. 11 and 18 will certainly be a chance for new Titans defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil to cut his teeth in a hurry.

Coaches say the bye week never comes at a bad time, but the Titans' Oct. 25 bye probably couldn't have come at a better moment than after tangles with Manning and Brady on back-to-back Sundays.

Also, throw in a Nov. 29 meeting with Kurt Warner and the NFC champion Arizona Cardinals, followed by the road rematch with Manning and the Colts on Dec. 6 and the schedule makers certainly didn't do the Titans any favors when it comes to facing high-flying offenses in successive fashion.

All of it adds up to the fact that the Titans had better figure out their pass rush situation in the post-Albert Haynesworth era very quickly with the likes of Brady, Manning and Warner all on the schedule in '09.

Another interesting part of the schedule is that the Titans have games on four different days of the week. In addition to the usual Sunday, Tennessee opens at Pittsburgh on a Thursday night, plays at Houston on Nov. 23 for a Monday Night Football match-up with the Texans, and finally a Christmas night game against the San Diego Chargers that comes on Friday.

For Titans coach Jeff Fisher, his staunch line in the years when the Titans were rarely seen in primetime, was that it was his preference to play Sundays at noon, in order to allow the players and coaches to stick with a routine. So much for that, as that is the trade-off for playing primetime games after a 13-3 season.

In many years past, the series with division rival Jacksonville has always been a point of emphasis for the Titans. This season, the Titans and Jaguars will be finished with each other by Nov. 1, meeting twice in a five-week span, then not seeing each other again, barring a postseason meeting.

Meanwhile, the rivalry with the Texans, which has been mostly one-sided in Tennessee's favor with an 11-3 lead, is getting more notice. The home portion of the Titans schedule begins with a Texans visit on Sept. 20, and the rivalry gets its first national showcase with the Monday night game.

The weirdest part of that? No, not that Titans franchise going back to Houston. That's old news.

How about best friends and former teammates Mike Munchak and Bruce Matthews on opposite sides of the rivalry now as coaches? Yes, Matthews' roots are in Houston, but seeing him in anything other than Titans colors will certainly be strange, especially considering his annual visits to the Titans locker room pre- and post-game in Houston.

Finally, as rough as the first part of the schedule is, the Titans get what appears to be a softer landing in December, as they have three of their last four at home, as well as dates with 2008 also-rans St. Louis (home, Dec. 13) and Seattle (away Jan. 3)


4 Comments on this post:

By: house_of_pain on 4/16/09 at 7:29

Set 'em up, and the Titans will knock 'em down.

By: TITAN1 on 4/16/09 at 9:06

I agree with H O P.

By: house_of_pain on 4/16/09 at 10:24

TITAN1, are you gonna be at Kid's Club Day on May 9?

By: TITAN1 on 4/16/09 at 11:51

Not familiar with it.