In trying to figure out just where things have gone wrong for the Tennessee Titans, there are plenty of areas to explore.
But on the offense there are plenty of befuddling stats that help to show why the Titans have been so inconsistent despite some strong individual numbers.
For instance, Chris Johnson is the NFL’s leading rusher with 434 yards through four games, but even Johnson’s work has inconsistencies that have plagued the offense and played into the team’s undoing.
Despite being the league’s top ground gainer, too many times, Johnson has been stopped for little to no gain or even losses. For example, Johnson carried 16 times for 83 yards Sunday against Jacksonville, but six of his attempts were for two yards or less, including two for lost yardage.
Last year, the Titans had a strong one-two punch with Johnson and LenDale White having about a 60/40 split of the carries. Thus far this season, White has been practically invisible with only 23 carries in four games. Johnson, whose speed dictates that he needs the bigger portion of the carries, has 69 attempts through four games this season, or three times what White has.
Also, the use of the pass has been a big change from last year. Some of it has been skewed by being behind in the second half, but nevertheless, the Titans won 13 games with Kerry Collins throwing an average of 26 passes per game and completing an average of 15.
With an upgrade at wide receiver, the Titans are now finding themselves too pass happy. Collins is averaging 38 pass attempts through four games and has an average of 21 completions. Worst of all is that his interception total has risen. In ’08, Collins had only seven passes picked off, and already has six in four games thus far in ’09.
The two problems seem to go hand-in-hand. Consider this: The Titans have gained 10 or more yards on first down 22 times, and gained 5-9 yards on first down 18 times. Comparatively, they have gained 1-4 yards on first down 29 times, had no gain on first down 32 times and lost yardage on first down 11 times. That means that 38 percent of the time, the Titans are faced with second-and-10 or longer and 72 percent of the time, the Titans face second-and-6 or more.
In general terms, second-and-6 or more is generally a passing down for many teams, and in the Titans’ case it has not carried over into success.
Of 52 drives this season, only 13 have resulted in points – nine touchdowns, four field goals.