Know Thy Enemy: Titans vs. Steelers

Every week, I will be contacting the editor of the FanSided team blog the Steelers are playing that Sunday.  This week I wrote five questions to Brandon Clark, editor of the Titans blog Titan Sized.  Check out what he has to say after the jump, and be sure to visit his site and let him know what you think about what he has to say.

1) The Titans and Steelers have both garnered reputations for running the ball well.  Chris Johnson was a hold out through camp this season and has only run for 199 yards in four weeks (2.9 yard average).  How is this settling with you and with other Titan fans?

There is no pretty way to paint it. Most Titans fans have been livid. There wasn’t really any of the: “Oh, but we love Chris Johnson. It’s okay that he is holding out!”. Nope, everyone was disgusted and seemed more to view him as “just another greedy player”. Now, Johnson deserved to hold out as much as anyone that ever did, however his play after the holdout has obviously left a lot to be desired, and that leaves the fanbase in more of an uproar. The oddest reality seems to be that fans just think it’s a bad dream and in about a week or two, they’ll wake up and see Chris Johnson averaging 5 yards a carry on 25 carries a game. I don’t think that happens again, but I do think we can eventually see a return to his 2010 form. The interior line is terrible, and I believe the Steelers take full advantage of it this week.

2) With the Steelers having a very uncharacteristically poor run defense this season, do you feel that this is the game that CJ comes alive?

Technically, Cj “came alive” last week against the Browns, in which he ran for his first 100-yard game of the year. It wasn’t the type of performance that makes you reminisce about the 2009 season.I don’t see the offensive line returning to their version of top form this week, regardless of the play of the Steelers. However, the Titans will return starting full back Ahmard Hall, a long-time blocker for CJ. Quinn Johnson has been filling in and seems to be a better blocker, while Hall is the better weapon. There hasn’t been any practice for Hall and the O-line, so don’t expect greatness. Hall was suspended the first four games for taking illegal substances, later revealed to be, by Hall, only Adderall.

3) How valuable of an addition has Matt Hasselbeck been this season?
Hasselbeck fulfilled every expectation. I know that you can look at the stats and get a pretty good idea on how well Hasselbeck has performed, but his on-field veteranship (if that’s a word) seems to have elevated everything about the passing game to a new level. In short, most Titans fans would say that Hasselbeck exists as a godsend right now. I think by about week 7, people will start talking Pro Bowl in regards to Hasselbeck and if you watched him in Seattle, and if you know football, you shouldn’t be surprised. He was great, but didn’t have a line capable of pass blocking. Whereas in Tennessee, Hasselbeck’s line boasts two of the best tackles in the NFL, at their respective positions. Unfortunately, the interior doesn’t maul people over in the run game and that’s why we see so many problems for the running attack.
4) What is a key matchup should the Steelers be focused on this Sunday?

Remarkably, Jared Cook (tight end) hasn’t seemed to garner too much attention, yet. I’m not sure how well the Steelers cover the opposing teams tight ends, but they’ll more than likely have their hands full. You might remember Cook from South Carolina. Entering the league as an absolute freak athlete, Cook is only starting to emerge now that he has a legit quarterback to throw him the rock.On defense, look out for rookie tackle Karl Klug. He’s under 280 pounds, so he’s pretty light, but he’s insanely disruptive. I imagine that 330 pound Shaun Smith will try to get in Pouncey’s way while Klug knocks through the guards.

5) The battle for the AFC South looks very different this year.  With the Colts out of contention only four weeks in, who comes out on top – Texans or Titans?  (The Texans blog last week felt that they had the best shot because the Titans are still looking to find their identity)
I read your questions with Toro Times last week, and you’re right, they think well of themselves. However, I don’t believe in the Texans. Do you? They are like the hot girl that flirts with you every day when you get your starbucks, but don’t ask for her number because they won’t make the playoffs. It’s not worth paying attention to.
6) BONUS: Predictions?
I’m thinking whichever team runs for more than 75 yards will win. Obviously, Big Ben will get his numbers, but Hasselbeck most likely will too. I’ve heard the Steelers pass defense is absolutely monstrous this year, but I think that’s somewhat due to teams being able to run the ball, so I do expect the passing game to show up for the Titans on Sunday. I think this will be a game that all the fans will enjoy down to the last 3 minutes, where someone pulls away.
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