It’s only one game and it’s too early to draw conclusions, but the Tennessee Titans have to be cautiously optimistic after their impressive season opener, a 26-10 drubbing of the Chiefs in Kansas City.
The Chiefs won 11 games last year, and Arrowhead Stadium is considered among the best home-field advantages in the NFL.
“I’m going to give you a cliché: You can’t win 16 if you don’t win the first one, right?” first-year coach Ken Whisenhunt told reporters after the game.
That is true, of course, but the Titans aren’t going undefeated. They very well could get to 2-0, though, with the Cowboys coming to town.
It’s hard not to feel like the Titans are headed in the right direction behind Whisenhunt, known as an offensive guru, and defensive coordinator Ray Horton.
Titans quarterback Jake Locker got off to a promising start. The fourth-year pro was 22-of-33 passing for 266 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
Locker spread the ball around, too, connecting with eight receivers during the game.
“Our plan called for a lot of different guys to touch the football and we were able to do that,” Locker said. “We weren’t greedy and we didn’t try to take too much.”
Defensively, the Titans were even more impressive.
There were some hurdles in their transition to a 3-4 defense in the preseason, but it appears to have been the right move.
The Titans took the Chiefs’ best playmaker, running back Jamaal Charles, essentially out of the game. Charles had only 19 yards rushing on seven carries, along with 15 yards receiving.
And the secondary had a standout game with three interceptions — two by cornerback Jason McCourty and one by safety Michael Griffin.
“We just played sound defense,” linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. “When guys were supposed to be in their gaps, they were in their gaps.
“After that, it was just hustling and making plays, believing in your teammates and backing them up.”
Pounding the ball
Chris Johnson left for the Jets, but the Titans are still committed to running the football. They ran it 38 times in Week 1, tied for most in the league, and gained 162 yards.
Veteran Shonn Greene got off to a solid start, gaining 71 yards on 15 carries. He and the speedy Dexter McCluster, who gained 29 yards on nine carries, have the ability to form a thunder-and-lightning type backfield.
And let’s not forget about rookie Bishop Sankey, who is expected to play a significant role in the running game.
If the Titans can establish their running game again, it will open up the field for the rest of the offense.
• The Titans likely lost linebacker Zach Brown for the season, as he exited Sunday’s game with a torn pectoral muscle. The 2012 second-round pick had started 28 of the last 33 games.
• Kicker Ryan Succop, who signed days before the opener after being cut by the Chiefs, went 4-for-4 in his Titans debut. He connected from 36, 31, 46 and 47 yards.
• The Titans won the last meeting against the Cowboys, 34-27, on Oct. 10, 2010 at Cowboys Stadium.
“I just saw Jake being Jake, in control of the offense, running the plays we’re supposed to run and making the right reads. He had a great game.” — wide receiver Kendall Wright on QB Locker
405 Total yards of offense for the Titans in Week 1. They gained 400 or more yards in only three games last year.