PFF Preview: Titans @ Chiefs, Week 1
The Ken Whisenhunt era begins on Sunday with the Tennessee Titans’ trip to Missouri to take on Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
In 2013 the Titans finished 14th in rushing with 1894 yards and 16 touchdowns, but it could have been much more thanks to the superb run blocking of the left side of their offensive line. Left guard Andy Levitre led the way with a run blocking grade of +12.9, left tackle Michael Roos was next with a grade of +11.9, fullback Collin Mooney graded out at +9.4 in run blocking, while tight ends Craig Stevens and Delanie Walker recorded run blocking grades of +9.2 and +5.4, respectively. Whether it’s Shonn Greene or Bishop Sankey in the backfield, there will be open lanes for them to run into.
Jamaal Charles was the key component of the Chiefs’ offense in 2013, leading the team in rushing, receptions and receiving yards, while accounting for 19 of the team’s 41 touchdowns. His +19.1 overall grade ranked second among running backs, and he proved particularly dangerous as a receiver, where his 22 forced missed tackles after receptions led the league in 2013. The Titan’s will focus upon Charles of course, but so does every team the Chiefs face and it rarely works.
Here are three more notable numbers for each side:
Jurrell Casey – Casey was the fifth-highest ranked interior pass rusher in 2013 with a pass rush grade of +27.1. Though how well he adapts to his role in the Titans’ new three-man front remains to be seen.
Akeem Ayers – Although he is transitioning to a rush linebacker role in a 3-4, Ayers’ +7.8 pass rushing grade was second among 4-3 outside linebackers in 2013, suggesting he has the skill set to succeed in his new role.
Justin Hunter – Targeted just 41 times as a rookie in 2013, 39% of those were passes of 20 yards or more as Hunter established himself as a legitimate deep threat. That trend was again evident during the preseason, as Hunter caught four passes of 20 yards or more, going for 146 yards and a touchdown on those four receptions.
Kansas City Chiefs
Justin Houston – With a +31.9 overall grade, Houston was the top ranked 3-4 outside linebacker in football last season, and was the only player at his position to rank in the Top 5 in pass rushing, run defense and coverage.
Eric Berry – Last season Berry led all safeties with 66 pass rushing snaps, collecting four sacks and 17 total pressures along the way, for a 20.8 Pass Rush Productivity score; second among safeties who rushed the quarterback at least 30 times.
Anthony Sherman – Sherman’s +15.7 overall grade was first among fullbacks in 2013, and his +16.7 run blocking grade was more than double that of John Kuhn, the second-best run-blocking fullback.
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