Fourth-quarter woes plaguing Titans

Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 5:52pm

A team that prides itself on finishing strong and pulling out games in the fourth quarter hasn’t been doing so this season.

That is just one of the crucial factors that helps to explain why the Tennessee Titans are off to an 0-3 start in 2009 and heading into Sunday’s game at Jacksonville.

For an offense that has played relatively well at times – sixth in rushing, 20th in passing and 11th overall through three games – its fourth-quarter shortcomings are difficult to fathom.

But nonetheless, they are there and help explain why Tennessee is winless through three games.

In 2008, the fourth quarter was the Titans’ strongest offensive quarter by points, as Tennessee scored 123 in the final 15 minutes of games last year. This year, through three games, the Titans have only Rob Bironas’ 45-yard field goal with 11:08 to play in regulation at Pittsburgh to show for their fourth-quarter efforts this year.

Quarterback Kerry Collins’ numbers in the final period are drastically different from a year ago, as he has completed just 8 of 24 fourth quarter passes for 77 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. His fourth-quarter passer rating is 25.9.

Last week, against the Jets, the Titans had zero passing yards in the final period, with the interception and several dropped passes contributing to the struggles.

Last year, Collins was the AFC’s fourth-best passer in the fourth quarter, completing 47 of 83 fourth-quarter passes throws for 589 yards with three TDs, no picks and a passer rating of 90.9.

“I sort of take my responsibility. I threw an interception last week and not making some plays in the last two weeks. I think a lot of that falls on my shoulders,” Collins said. “It’s very important. A lot of games come down to the fourth quarter and making plays in the fourth quarter. We haven’t done that. It’s not something we’re concerned about, but there are some things we can definitely do better to play a more complete game.”

And while Collins, as most starting quarterbacks will do, puts the burden on himself, there is plenty of culpability to go around.

Coach Jeff Fisher at his Monday press conference announced that he counted five second-half drops in the loss to the New York Jets.

The running game has been hit and miss, with 104 yards in the fourth quarter through three weeks. And while that number might look respectable on the surface, 73 of those yards came last week against the Jets, and 30 of that 73 came on one Chris Johnson run.

“We’ve taken turns making mistakes at the end of the game. It’s hurt us. That’s why we’ve lost,” guard Jake Scott said. “We’ve had the ball in all three games, late in the third quarter and sometimes in the fourth quarter with a chance to drive and win it, and we haven’t gotten it done yet. It’s on us to start turning that around.”

Offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger has taken notice of the shortcomings, and says circumstances of being behind and having to try and come back in the final quarter has taken a toll. Tennessee led only Pittsburgh, 10-7, on the Bironas field goal, in the fourth quarter.

“Last year at this time, we were ahead in all those games, instead of being behind and having to win, and that makes a difference, if you don’t have to throw every down to win,” Heimerdinger said. “As long as the game is close, we can run it and do some things we need to do. Even last week I the fourth quarter, we were running OK, and we get a loss on a run, and that puts us back to second-and-12.”

The Titans have had their chances, but sometimes needing to pull a game out with a fourth-quarter comeback can be one of the most difficult things to do on offense. After all, there’s a reason that fourth-quarter masters of the comeback like John Elway and Joe Montana are regarded among the greatest players of all time.

“It’s definitely one of the hardest things to do,” receiver Nate Washington said. “The defense knows you’re throwing the ball. A lot of times in that series of plays, there are only a certain amount of plays you’re going to be able to run. When you run those same plays a couple of times, you just have to be better with your technique and consistency.”

Mistakes can be even more glaring under such circumstances, but that in itself is not an excuse Heimerdinger is willing to tolerate.

“We’re making mistakes we shouldn’t make. We had two missed assignments against Pittsburgh in key situations,” Heimerdinger said. “We dropped some balls last week that would have turned the momentum back around and put ourselves in situations where last week, where they were bringing the blitz because we didn’t make any plays against the blitz. … We’ve got to stop stopping ourselves. We need somebody to make a play.”


2 Comments on this post:

By: blktenn on 10/2/09 at 6:43

1. Kerry Collins said ““I sort of take my responsibility” (WHAT does that mean?)
2. Terry McCormick Writes “And while Collins, as most starting quarterbacks will do, puts the burden on himself there is plenty of culpability to go around” ( Report the news not person option)
It is a shame that your ANTI- Vince Young is so clear. Most Quarter Backs take the blame because they get all or most of the credit when the “Teams” wins ball games. Also a lot of the times is truly their fault because the “Fumble the ball or do not respond when they have an opportunity to make a winning play to when a game. Kerry numbers 8 of 24 fourth quarter passes for 77 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. His fourth-quarter passer rating is 25.9.
While listen to Terry and 1045 I hear them say things like “Kerry is doing what he is paid to do. He is not paid to win games” Kerry takes responsibility for his play. That would be true if you would let him take responsibility but “Every excuse possible is reported by this media making sure “isn’t Kerry’s fault that the titans are losing. You rather lose that move forward with VY. You also so kiss up to the titans and Jeff Fisher words is GOLD “except when he says VY is the QB of the future”

By: wayneCaluger on 10/2/09 at 10:51

Generally I don’t like shooting an unarmed man, physically or mentally but I do make exceptions when it comes to a one solution answer to the multitude of problems plaguing the Titans, especially when their single solution is Vince Young. Regardless of the quarterback is, if receivers don’t get themselves open, don’t run the routes or makes a cut to the inside and fails to follow through with a quarterback under pressure its going to be a disaster. The NFL is not high school or college, the quarterback has to release the ball before his receivers get to the spot where they are going or suppose to be. And, the ball has to have some zip on it and thrown at the receiver in a location that only his receiver has a chance to catch the ball.

While VY is a nice young man and a College star he is not the first or last college star that lacks the necessary abilities to make it in the NFL. The first issue is a lack of proper throwing mechanics that hampers his ability to get enough zip on the ball and accuracy you must have in the NFL to hit your receiver be it single or double coverage. Having coached the most if not impossible thing to teach is proper mechanics and it’s virtually impossible the older and more set a player becomes.

So for starters VY lacks the mechanics to ever be an effective NFL quarterback even if ever learns how to read defenses or look down his receiver options quickly be it his first, second, third or a check down option. When it comes to receivers he is one dimensional giving his single intended receiver, which is Bo Scaife 90% of the time away with his eyes before tucking the ball running into the waiting defense. It took a season for teams to figure out, put a little pressure on VY, cover his primary receiver and slide down the line to nail his run.

The second issue, a NFL quarterback has to keep their senses about them under pressure, not panic and manage the clock. A quarterback should never lateral a bad snap behind them especially when deep in their own territory like VY did this year. While White kicking the ball out of bounds saved a sure TD on that play the turnover resulted in a TD. Earlier that same pre-season game on another bad snap he tried to make something happen that resulted in losing more yards than we would have lost had he just fell on the ball.

Then there is the third and eight VY panicked and ran for no gain. But the biggest was the first or second and goal on the eight yard line with 14 seconds left and no time outs. Instead of throwing it into the stands a couple of times if no one was open to conserve time he panicked and ran left getting stopped at the two yard line and fumbling to boot. So what should have been a score for us, TD or field goal it killed the team and whatever momentum the Titans had.

I agree 100% with Al Michaels and Chris Collingsworth assessment of VY; it’s time the Titans cut their losses. VY is the only four year rookie in NFL history. VY was a great College quarterback and the Heisman trophy winner list is 75 players long of great College players that only a fraction ever made it in the NFL, including Matt Leinhart who has been riding the pine since Arizona replaced him with Curt Warner another ageless quarterback.

Four years Bud insisted the Titians take VY and Norm Chow wanted Matt Leinhart instead of Jay Cutler even though it was and still is in my opinion best NFL quarterback prospect of the three. When Denver shot themselves in the foot teams were lining up to get Cutler. At the best Matt Leinhart may become a career backup like Matt Cassel, but for VY I just don’t see it much less being the quarterback of the future for the Titans. The future is bleak enough right now at 0-3, lets fix what’s broke first and then look for a real potential Titan quarterback of the future while we still have a veteran like Collins a young promising quarterback could learn from, not on who spends the season sulking while the third stringer (Chris Simms) stands and listens to seasoned Pro and Offensive Coordinator discuss plays and defensive alignments.