Bears-Titans preview: Titans ball
November 2, 2012, 5:27 pm
Titans “O” has the Wright stuff
As the first round of the 2012 draft played out, the Bears’ turn on the clock arrived. They had made wide receiver a priority even after trading for Brandon Marshall in March and speed receiver Kendall Wright was still available after Jacksonville had taken Justin Blackmon sixth-overall and Arizona chose Michael Floyd 13th.
Wright, the Baylor partner of quarterback Robert Griffin III, was the next-highest rated receiver, according to Pro Football Weekly’s Nolan Nawrocki.
But the Bears had Boise State’s Shea McClellin – and South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery – rated ahead of Wright. They selected McClellin at No. 19, passed on Wright whom the Tennessee Titans immediately grabbed at No. 20, and came back for Jeffery in the second round.
Wright now stands as the top rookie wide receiver with 40 catches, tied for fifth in the AFC, if for a surprisingly pedestrian 8.8 yards per catch. But his three touchdown receptions are tied for the team lead, which has not surprised the Bears at all.
“We thought he was a heckuva football player,” said coach Lovie Smith. “He’s back from my home area [in Texas]. I knew quite a bit about him. He’s played well in the league, too. Same things we saw in his college video, he’s doing that in the league. Good quickness. Has that great vertical. So he can catch the football. We’ll have to deal with him.”
He is not all the Bears’ defense will have to deal with.
Including running back Chris Johnson and tight end Jared Cook, the Titans have six players with at least 19 receptions. The Bears have one (Marshall).
The easy focal point of the Tennessee offense is Johnson. He has rushed for 1,000 yards in four straight seasons and last year ranked second on the team with 57 catches. His 19 this season are more than any Bear other than Marshall (Jeffery had 14 before missing the last two games).
“If there’s a hole there, he’s going to find it and hit it fast,” said linebacker Brian Urlacher. “We just have get in our gaps. That’s our game plan every week: get in our gaps, run through our gaps and try to get into the backfield and make him change directions so we can get more guys to the football."
The Bears have done well getting into backfields against runners, ranking No. 1 against the run allowing 77.9 yards per game and eighth in average yards per carry (3.8). Johnson averages 4.5 this season.
But Johnson has never faced the Bears. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has and he beats them.
Hasselbeck signed with Tennessee in 2011 as a free agent and passed for 3,571 yards, fourth-highest in franchise history. He was supposed to turn the offense this year to Jake Locker, the 10th-overall pick of last year’s draft.
But Locker has been out the last four games with a shoulder injury and the Seahawks have won two of the last three behind Hasselbeck, who has never lost to the Bears outside of Soldier Field either with Green Bay or Seattle.
The problem for the Bears is that he is a classic West Coast quarterback, patient and inclined to use every piece of his offense. Against the Bears is 3-3 for his career, has an 81.4 passer rating, throwing zero interceptions in his last three games vs. the Bears.
“You have to be extremely disciplined and know that he’s going to utilize everybody on that field at any time,” said linebacker Lance Briggs.
Tags: Tennessee Titans
, Chicago Bears
, Chris Johnson
, kendall wright
, Matt Hasselebeck