Titans RB Chris Johnson hasn't hit his stride yet, but still has 354 yards rushing in 4 games.
in just the Denver game alone.
Or a Tennessee team that limited Denver this past Sunday, even though it lost, 26-20, to just 19 rushing yards on 20 attempts. Come on, that's not even a yard an attempt.
Or a Tennessee team equipped with enough players willing to bump their grandmas out of the way if they can convince themselves the whistle hadn't blown yet.
Or one whose defensive coordinator, Chuck Cecil, had what turned out to be $40,000 worth of audacity for flipping off the officials last week for a call we can assume he didn't think was deserving, and knowing this bunch I'm guessing he thought he got his money's worth.
Or one that puts a Titans No. 28 on the back of one Chris Johnson, only the defending NFL rushing champ from last year and a guy who ranks sixth so far this season with 354 yards. Oh, and get this: Johnson already has rushed for more than 100 yards twice this season, and his output in those games - 266 yards - is 26 more yards than the Cowboys have rushed for as a team.
That's all enough to beat your booty, let alone get your attention.
"We've won one now, we're going for two," head coach Wade Phillips said, certainly putting into perspective just where the Cowboys are, still a half-game behind their three division cohorts.
Well, to get "two," there probably are enough keys to fill one of those janitor's jangling belt rings. So let me simplify: Stop CJ, the young one who has drawn a lot of attention to himself by vowing to rush for an NFL-record 2,500 yards this season. To do so he would need to average 156.25 yards a game for 16 games. So far after four games he's at 88.5
How to do so then against a guy who until the second week of this season had rushed for more than 100 yards in 12 consecutive games and who has totaled 18 career 100-yard performances in just 35 games, which in my quick math comes to a tad more than once every two games? Uh, he only rushed for 53 last Sunday, so he's due.
First off, you can always try to play eight guys in the box, moving strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh into like a linebacker spot. There is a downside. If Johnson breaks through the line of scrimmage, you might only have one or two guys chasing him, and chasing that guy is never a good thing. Never.
Now then, if you play it straight, 3-4-4, then those outside linebackers, DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer must seal down the edges because from what I've seen on tape, if Johnson gets the corner, not even guys with angles can run him down. He's that fast.
And then there is this, kind of going back to where we started: Ratliff dominating Amano, the guy starting his first full season at center. Ratliff says Mawae taught the guy playing next to him at guard the past two years well. Still, for a change Ratliff is not giving away any tonnage to some 320- or 30-pound center. Both are 300, and if Ratliff can disrupt the middle of the line with penetration, forcing Johnson to turn his shoulders sideways, the chances of stopping him before he gets started are much greater.
And if they want to double-team Ratliff, which will be the Titans likely choice, then the defensive end to the side of the double team, either Marcus Spears or Igor Olshansky, needs to make hay, er, tackles, or at least hold his ground until the linebacking reinforcements arrive.
"You got to surround him," Ware said. "If you got one guy, it's over."
Alas, one more way to stop a running game, although Tennessee doesn't give in easily, score some points. Yeah, make the Titans play from behind. And not just like three or seven points behind. Double digits, so one mistake or one Johnson 60-yard run doesn't put the Titans right back in the lead. Come on, we are talking a team that was 28th in defense last year. Give me Twentysomething.
And here are a few things boding well for that possibility. One, quarterback Tony Romo tells me this was a perfect time to have two weeks to prepare since the Titans do things a little less traditionally on defense. Second, everyone is talking about Felix Jones getting more touches, which always is a good thing. And lastly, the kicker's knee on his kicking leg he somewhat sprained at the start of the season opener is fully healed. Bombs away