By Jay Skurski
One of the best beat writers in the business, Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean, took a few minutes out of his Tuesday afternoon to preview Sunday's upcoming game between the Bills and Titans.
Topics included the Titans' quarterback situation (Jake Locker is expected to be out, which means Matt Hasselbeck will start), what's wrong with Chris Johnson, what's wrong with the Tennessee defense, and just how interested the Titans were in defensive end Mario Williams this offseason.
A few highlights of the conversation are below, while you can listen to the entire audio interview at the bottom of this post.
Q: What’s the status of Jake Locker, and will we see him under center Sunday?
A: "No, it’s going to be Matt Hasselbeck again on Sunday, when Locker went down he dislocated his shoulder twice. When he went down the second time he and the Titans pretty much made the decision they were going to rest him, let the shoulder heal up, and turn things over to Matt Hasselbeck. So Hasselbeck will be behind center for the third straight week. The first week they were terrible against the Vikings with him behind center, lost 30-7. They showed a lot more signs of life against the Steelers in an upset win Thursday, so 1-1 with Hasselbeck. Certainly the Titans have a lot of improvements they need to make, but Hasselbeck will be the guy leading the way on Sunday in Buffalo."
Q: What’s wrong with Chris Johnson?
A: "He hasn’t been the same back that he was certainly during the 2009 season, when he ran for 2,000 yards. He was so good his first three NFL seasons and the last two have not been very good. I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. You know, Chris Johnson obviously deserves some of the blame. I think the offensive line certainly hasn’t been great at times for him and I think even the play-calling has led to some questions as well. He hasn’t been running away from people. … The Titans think he’ll eventually get comfortable and kind of get into a little bit a groove. Four of the first five weeks, he ran for 25 yards or less. The Titans will tell you the last three weeks, he’s had his best games of the season. He ran for 141 yards against the Texans a couple weeks back after a bad week in Minnesota. He ran for 91 yards against a pretty good Steelers defense, so they think he’s starting to hit his stride a little bit. We’ll see. He had a good game in Buffalo last year, and the Titans need him to pick it up, certainly."
Q: How much interest did the Texans have in Mario Williams last offseason?
A: "I think there was an interest, just like any time you’ve got a great player on the market and it’s a position of need, you’ve got to have some interest. But to have an interest and paying him the big money, there’s a bigger difference there, and while the Titans have still got a ton of salary cap room, and they had some room to work with this offseason, I’m not so sure they would have paid the money Buffalo did. They certainly need a player like that and they respect the way he played the game by going up against him for so many years while he was with the Texans, but I just don’t think when push came to shove, had the Titans really been it, I’m not so sure they would have written the big check."
Titans preview with the Tennessean's Jim Wyatt