AFC Scout's Take: NFL insider breaks down Titans-Chargers matchup - Sports Illustrated

AFC Scout's Take

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The Titans are going to be OK if they have to play Kerry Collins at quarterback this week. He's capable of having a big game, and he'll generally take care of the football. The major difference is that San Diego knows where Kerry is going to be. He's going to stay there in the pocket, and that's going to let San Diego's pass rush tee it up a little bit and come after him. With Vince Young, you'd better maintain your rush lanes, or he'll take off on you. That's a difference that could greatly affect the game if Young can't play.

Whoever plays quarterback, Tennessee doesn't want to be dropping back 40 times in this game, because Shawne Merriman and the boys can get after you in that kind of situation. The Titans need to run the ball, and that means LenDale White has to have a good game. He's a big back and he's really started to make some things happen this year. When he's heading downhill, he can be a load for any defense to have to deal with all day. That may be the key for the Titans on offense, making sure White is getting his yards and keeping the chains moving.

Defensively, Tennessee needs big games from defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch and tackle Albert Haynesworth. If those two can't get after Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, the Titans are in trouble. Last year Tennessee didn't have much going for it on defense, but they've played much better defensively this year. Linebacker Keith Bulluck sets the tone for them, but if Haynesworth is collapsing the middle like he can do, that means Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson can't run wild. If L.T. gets going, that sets up San Diego's entire game plan, so the Titans front seven on defense has to play a good, disciplined game.


Norv Turner catches a lot of flak, but he deserves some credit for what he's done with this team. That was a very difficult situation to come into, with the team having the best record in the league last year. With all that talent, you can only go down. I like Norv. He's a good coach, and I'm glad he's winning. And if they win one playoff game, he's already gone father than they ever went under Marty Schottenheimer.

I think it just took some time for him and the team to get a trust and respect for each other. It also seems like it took some time for Norv to trust and believe he could just hand the ball to LaDainian Tomlinson. He must have said at some point, 'Man, I'm a dummy. Why am I not just giving this guy the ball more?' Once he started doing that, it really helped set up the rest of the offense.

Chris Chambers was a great acquisition for the Chargers at the trading deadline. He's a really good player, and as soon as they got him I knew he'd help them tremendously. It was right around the time that they traded for him that they really started taking off on offense and winning ballgames. He's a weapon you have to account for, and they didn't have that at receiver. With L.T., tight end Antonio Gates, and a receiving threat like Chambers, now you've got something that defenses really have to watch out for.

I know everyone says Philip Rivers has had a down year, an off year. But you don't know if the offense changed under Norv Turner, or how having a different person calling the plays affected him. There's a lot that goes with a change of coordinators some times. He's still a good, young quarterback and he's going to keep getting better the more he plays. He still plays very composed and confident.

San Diego cornerback Antonio Cromartie has really had a huge season. If you're going to pressure people like the Chargers defense likes to do, you've got to have that kind of cover guy in the secondary. If you've got 10 interceptions like Cromartie, you're doing something good back there. He's made a bunch of big plays for the Chargers.