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Thread: What to Watch: Tennessee
What to Watch: Tennessee
Friday, September 23, 2005
1. The Ramsí offense seems oh so close to clicking into high gear, but it has yet to happen. It took Marc Bulger and Co. three quarters to hit the high notes against San Francisco in week one before a quick start against Arizona in the second game. Although it seems that the offense has had its moments of success, it has yet to reach the peak level that most have come to expect from a St. Louis offense. The Titans have been inconsistent defensively in the first two weeks and have yet to face a team that likes to throw as much as the Rams. Tennessee has some inexperience in the secondary, a fact that could be exploited by St. Louis offense. Donít be surprised to see the Rams attempt to strike down the field early and grind away on the ground late.
2. The battle on special teams has the makings of an interesting one. Tennessee has been one of the better units in the league this season and the Rams have had a bad day and a good day so far. Which St. Louis special teams unit shows up could go a long way in determining the outcome. Reggie Hodges punted well against the Cardinals and needs to continue that consistency this week when he gets opportunities. While the coverage units were much improved against the Cardinals, the Rams are still hoping for some big plays in the return game. To that end, donít be surprised to see some new different personnel on the field in an attempt to jumpstart that aspect of the special teams.
3. The Titans have been hit hard by injury in the past week and it is still unclear which injured players will suit up on Sunday. None of those players are more important than defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, though. Haynesworth is the basis for everything Tennessee does up front, particularly against the run. If he isnít playing, the Rams might attack the middle of the Titansí defense with Steven Jackson, much like Pittsburgh did with Willie Parker in week one.
4. The Ramsí run defense is third in the league entering this game, an unlikely turnaround considering the struggles St. Louis had against the run last week. But the Titans present some interesting dilemmas for that run defense in the form of a two-headed monster at running back. Travis Henry and Chris Brown provide a nice combination of speed and power that the Rams havenít had to deal with yet. Brown, who is probably the faster of the two backs, is questionable for this week because of a concussion he suffered against Baltimore. But regardless of who handles the running duties, St. Louis has a difficult task at hand. In addition to Henry and Brown, the Titans still have Steve McNair at quarterback. Although McNair has been less inclined to take off running as he was toward the beginning of his career, he remains a threat to scramble when flushed out of the pocket. As with any team attempting to stop the run, the Rams must stay in their lanes and handle their assignments to ensure that Tennessee doesnít beat them with its feet.
5. It would be easy for the Rams to get caught up in the emotion of their first home game. St. Louis hasnít seen its hometown team in quite a while and hasnít seen the Rams in the regular season since the final regular season game of 2004 against the Jets. There is no doubt the Rams will be fired up to play in front of their fans and make a good first impression after a couple of long and difficult road trips. But Tennessee always comes to play under coach Jeff Fisher and regardless of what the Titansí record was a year ago, they will certainly present their share of problems to the Rams. If the Rams can feed off the energy of playing at home and not get too caught up in trying to put on a show, it should help the effort toward a victory.