Behind Enemy Lines: Part II

Our Scout.com experts, Bill Huber of Packer Report and Doug Farrar of FootballOutsiders.com, go Behind Enemy Lines to take a closer look at Sunday's Week 9 matchup between the Packers and Titans at LP Field. Let's continue this three-part series with five questions from Bill to Doug.

Bill Huber: Kerry Collins as the quarterback? No way the Titans are 7-0, but that's what the standings say. Give us a Cliffs Notes version of what they're doing.

Doug Farrar: Collins is doing what he did for the NFC champion New York Giants in 2000 or Trent Dilfer did for the AFC champion Baltimore Ravens, who beat those Giants in Super Bowl XXXV: Manage the game, don't make too many mistakes, and let your running game and defense take care of business. Collins understands that a quick out to a tight end or running back is just fine, as long as that smashmouth offense keeps moving forward.

Tennessee has one of the best one-two backfields in the game, with rookie speedster Chris Johnson and bruiser LenDale White. Johnson currently ranks fifth in the NFL with 626 rushing yards, ran a 4.24 40 at the Scouting Combine, and has more power than you'd expect from a guy that fast. Their offensive line is also cruelly underrated, even for offensive lines.

But it's on defense where this team really shines. From a front four led by Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch to a great group of linebackers and a fearless secondary, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has a unit that can disrupt any offense in the game.

BH: Seriously, though, it's Kerry Collins. He's got no wide receivers. Defense wins championships, but at some point, doesn't the Titans' lack of offense have to catch up with them?


QB Kerry Collins
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

DF: Collins won't make anyone's all-time list, but enough Super Bowls have been won with "meh" quarterbacks. The lack of offense is only a problem if you're looking for a dynamite aerial attack. Now this is an issue, and it's Tennessee's one glaring problem. The Titans currently rank 29th in passing yardage, but keep in mind that no team has thrown the ball fewer times in 2008. Their 192 passing attempts ties them with Baltimore for fewest in the league.

Conversely, only the Panthers, Ravens and Redskins have run the ball more. This is a team that knows what works, and it does work, so they're going to pound that football down your throat until you make them do something else. So far, nobody's been able to push the reset button.

BH: Nobody's having a Tom Brady-like season, so could this be the year a defensive player like Haynesworth wins league MVP? Is there anybody better at his position in the NFL?

DF: Haynesworth's a great place to start, though no defensive player has won the MVP since 1971. I'm sure that former Vikings defensive tackle Alan Page would love it if another defensive tackle took the award. As long as Haynesworth stays healthy, I don't think there's a single player who makes more of a difference to his team.

In Tennessee's win over the Vikings earlier this season, I saw three Minnesota linemen blocking Haynesworth on one play. One of the linemen was Steve Hutchinson, and the fact that Haynesworth constantly demands that kind of attention is the fulcrum of that defense. If you don't double-team him, your quarterback is going to suffer. Right now, he'd have my vote.

BH: Because the Titans weren't so hot the last few years, I think everybody forgot how good Jeff Fisher is. Where do you rank him in the NFL's pantheon of coaches, and what is his secret for staying off the coaching carousel? I mean, the Raiders have had about 20 coaches since Fisher landed in Houston with the Oilers.


Head coach Jeff Fisher
Doug Benc/Getty Images

DF: Well, the Raiders are a special case. I think they've fired five coaches since I started answering these questions. Titans ownership obviously believes in Fisher, and he's rewarded that faith with the ability to take the team through a move from Houston and the more recent salary-cap purge and put them back on top both times.

Fisher has two debits against him from a recognition standpoint. First, he does his thing in a smaller market. And second, he's never won a Super Bowl. As far as sheer coaching acumen and motivational ability, there aren't many better. He's also co-chair of the competition committee, so he can make your head spin with his knowledge of the rules — never a bad thing when the league's officials can veer off point at the best of times. He's the equal of Bill Belichick or Mike Holmgren or Tony Dungy or any other current coach you'd care to mention.

BH: Do you see the Titans winning on Sunday? Coming off of a short week of practice against a team coming off of its bye? And if so, when and to whom do the Titans finally lose?

DF: I do see them winning because their run defense is so solid, and the Packers don't really have an answer for that. In most cases, putting the Packers in a situation where they have to pass is actually to Green Bay's advantage, but Tennessee's linebackers can cover and their cornerbacks and safeties are fearless.

On offense, Johnson and White have the ability to carve up the Pack's banged-up front seven, a unit that has allowed 4.78 yards per carry so far this season. That's where I think this game will be won — with the Titans playing power football and that combustible Green Bay passing game cooling its collective heels on the bench.

Be on the lookout for Part III of this three-part series on Friday. To go back and read Part I, where Bill answers five questions from Doug, Click Here.

Bill Huber is the Lead Analyst for Packer Report. Doug Farrar is a Staff Writer for FootballOutsiders.com.


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