Titans go in reverse, get increasingly younger at quarterback

Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 11:41pm

It was not that long ago that the Tennessee Titans last had three different starting quarterbacks in as many games.

This time it will be different, though.

The Titans concluded the 2003 season with – in succession – Billy Volek, Steve McNair and Neil O’Donnell taking turns as the leader of the offense. Each had more experience than the one who preceded him, which was critical given that O’Donnell, who had been waived at the end of training camp, was re-signed just days before he took the field against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the regular-season finale.

This time things have worked in reverse. It was 16-year veteran Kerry Collins who started at Miami on Nov. 14 and Vince Young, in his fifth season, who got the assignment last Sunday against Washington.

This week at Houston, it will be rookie Rusty Smith, who gets the nod. Smith has exactly nine passes of NFL experience, all of them against Washington after Young was knocked out by a thumb injury, which ultimately ended his season.

“He went in there and did his best,” wide receiver Marc Mariani said. “He was ready when his number was called and after that … there were plays here and there we need to make to get some of these close games.

“I know he’s going to be looking for ways to improve, as we all are.”

There’s one other notable difference between the current situation and what happened in 2003.

Then, the team was good enough to win regardless of who was under center. With Volek under center the Titans defeated Buffalo 28-26. McNair guided them to a 27-24 victory at Houston, and O’Donnell helped them ease past Tampa Bay 33-13.

That got them into the playoffs, where they won their opener at Baltimore (with McNair at quarterback) before they lost at New England.

Currently the Titans are mired in a three-game losing streak, capped by their 19-16 overtime loss to the Redskins, their first defeat against an NFC opponent in 13 tries.

That has dropped them to 5-5, one game behind both Jacksonville and Indianapolis and one game ahead of Houston with five of their remaining six against their division rivals (two each against Houston and Indianapolis, one against Jacksonville).

“Youn can’t panic,” linebacker Stephen Tulloch said, “We were 0-6 (last season). You can’t panic. I’ve been on the lows with a Tennessee team. You have to keep working.

“From here on out it’s playoff time. It’s a playoff state of mind. It’s divisional games. It’s a must-win situation. There’s no sugar-coating about it. There’s no hiding behind it. … We have to win.”

And they’ll have to do it with Smith, who never has been in such a situation – or virtually any other situation – in the NFL.

“He’s not going to do it perfect, he’s not going to do (the right things) all the time, but he’s going to put the ball where he’s supposed to put it,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “… We have a veteran group of guys on this offense that will rally around him.”


• Young officially was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, and veteran Chris Simms, who spent the 2008 season and this past offseason with Tennessee, was re-signed,

Also, linebacker David Thornton was activated from the physically unable to perform list, where he had been since the start of training camp. To make room on the roster, guard Ryan Durand was waived.

4 Comments on this post:

By: TITAN1 on 11/24/10 at 9:01

I hope Rusty has a big game against the Txeans Sunday. It would be a very good confidence builder for the rookie. Who knows, he could turn out to be another diamond in the rough like another 7th round pick by the name of Tom Brady. Just one game out of first and now with the VY saga out of the way until the off season we can concentrate on football.

By: TITAN1 on 11/24/10 at 9:02

Oh, and the defense has to get better quick.

By: Titan9282 on 11/24/10 at 9:19

TITAN1, I agree with you 100%. Let's focus on some football. Look, we are in a tough situation. However, there is only one thing that is going to get us out of this and be successful: LEADERSHIP!!!!!!! Plain and simple. We HAVE to have the vets (Weatherspoon, Washington, Moss, Finnegan, Hope, etc.) step and lead this team. Forget the past. You cannot go back, you cannot change it. Look, Rusty is being put in a tough situation, but on the good side, he is facing the WORST pass defensive in the league this week. I think he has a shot of being successful against these guys. He just has to play smart and for goodness sake, FIND MOSS!!!!!!! I have a feeling we are going to bounce back this week with our backs against the wall. Fisher will get these guys ready to play and have a shot at the division. Now, we need the fan base to come together and rally with this team. GO TITANS!!!!!!!!!!!

Titans - 20
Texans - 16

By: cookeville on 11/27/10 at 5:30

Rusty is smart and he will play smart. He won't hit the receivers every time, but then, neither did Vince. And I'm 100% sure he will not have a meltdown if things aren't going good enough to suit him! If every player does his part, we can run away with this game. Hopefully, they are all on the same wavelength.


oh, and pass the ball to Randy more than one time! :O}