1. Delanie Walker's status is uncertain at the moment. Would his absence be as devastating for the Titans' offense as it seems being that he is by far their best receiver? Who would Mariota turn to if Walker is out?
It would be bad. He is actually 2nd on the team in targets currently to rookie Tajae Shape, but there is no doubt that his presence on the field opens up a lot of things for the Titans. Delanie is also the biggest threat they have in the red zone.
As I said above, Sharpe has already been the primary pass catcher for the Titans in the first 2 games. Rishard Matthews and Andre Johnson would see more targets if Delanie can't go, but this team is built around running the ball anyway. You will probably see them try to pound the ball even more if Walker isn't out there.
2. Despite both teams being 1-1 in two close games to start the season, the Raiders and Titans seem to be two very different teams. The Raiders with a high powered offense and porous defense and the Titans the reverse of that. Would you say that's accurate? Oversimplified?
That's fairly accurate. This offense isn't going to be high powered. They want to control the line of scrimmage and wear teams down. The run game hasn't been all that efficient through the first two weeks, but they aren't going to give up on. DeMarco Murray has looked good so far. Expect a heavy dose of him.
The defense has been better than I expected. They have been really good against the run. There are some plays to be had in the passing game. The Titans have a lot of holes in the secondary, so they hope to send a lot of blitzes and not give the opposing quarterback time to find the holes. That has worked well so far as they have only given up one touchdown on defense in the first two weeks. This Raiders' offense will be a really tough test.
3. Even though it's just two games in, what kind of growth have you seen from Marcus Mariota this season? What do you expect to see?
He looks more comfortable in the offense. They aren't asking him to do much right now. That will probably always be the case as long as Mike Mularkey is the head coach.
I would love to see them go to more no huddle and speed things up. That is when Mariota looks the most comfortable. They mix some of that in, but for the most part you will feel like you are watching an offense from the past. That is OK if they can get the run game going. It can be trouble when they don't.
4. What is the biggest weakness on each side of the ball for the Titans you expect the Raiders to attempt to exploit?
The biggest weakness on offense is the inability to stretch the field. They don't have the receivers to get down the field and Mariota has struggled at times with the deep ball. This receiving group is the best they have had in a while, but they still lack that burner they need to open up some of the underneath stuff. That is why they rely so much on precision routes and accurate throws. It is the only way they can move the ball in the passing game.
On defense the weakness is the secondary. Perrish Cox was horrible last week before redeeming himself at the end of the game with an interception. If the Raiders line can give Carr time, he will have a big game through the air.
5. Give me one player on each side of the ball you think could have an unexpected impact on this game for the Titans?
So you want me to actually name a player?? The horror....
Andre Johnson could play a bigger role in this one if Walker can't go. He has lost a step, but still knows how to create space and is a big target in the red zone. He got the game winner last week and could see Delanie's share of the targets when the Titans get in close.
On defense watch out for Kevin Dodd. He is a rookie OLB who missed most of training camp after having foot surgery in the spring. His workload has steadily increased. He had 3 tackles and a sack against the Lions last week. If Derrick Morgan isn't ready to go on Sunday, and there is a pretty good chance he won't be, Dodd could see a lot of time.
To see my answers to his questions, click here