Commentary

Young, Johnson saving Titans' season

Originally Published: November 20, 2009
By Ron Jaworski | ESPN.com

"Monday Night Football" analyst Ron Jaworski breaks down the matchup between the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans:

After starting the season 0-6 and getting trounced 59-0 by the New England Patriots, the Titans would be excused for starting to mail it in. But that hasn't happened. The team is in the midst of a three-game winning streak, which is a testament to Jeff Fisher's abilities as coach. He has his team focused and playing well.

The keys to the turnaround have been QB Vince Young and RB Chris Johnson. One of the most sought-after aspects of any NFL game is the ability to dictate something to the other team. The Titans are now forcing teams to play zone defense in pass coverage because Young and Johnson are destroying anybody who plays man-to-man coverage against them.

All of Johnson's big runs this season have been against man coverage. When the defensive backs have to turn their backs and run with a receiver, Johnson runs into the void they create. He does the same thing when a linebacker follows a tight end into a pattern. These are called "easy releases" by receivers, running a pattern simply to take a man with you. Offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger has a lot of them in his scheme.

Young also has a great feel for man versus zone. He looks to break the pocket against man coverage and run into the same open spaces that Johnson does. I've been impressed with Young lately. He's looked good out there, calm and focused.

Against all odds, the Titans have salvaged what appeared to be a lost season. Along the way, they have developed the best running back in the game right now. I love Adrian Peterson and DeAngelo Williams, but Johnson is playing better than any back in the league. The Texans will have their hands full Monday night.

Ron Jaworski

NFL analyst / writer
Ron Jaworski is one of the most popular and knowledgeable analysts covering the NFL today. Since joining ESPN in 1990, the former standout NFL quarterback has covered the league from virtually every angle -- sideline reporter, game-site reporter, host and both studio and game analyst. From 2007-11, Jaworski occupied one of the most coveted positions in sports as a Monday Night Football analyst.