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Opposing Gab – Interview with

To get a better feel for the Eagles opponent this week, I was able to ask Russ Loede, a representative from, a number of questions regarding the match-up.

Russ tells us where each team will have an advantage on Sunday, how the Eagles can shut down Chris Johnson, and makes a final prediction on the outcome of the game. Enjoy!

EaglesGab: Despite being knocked out of Monday night’s game with the Jaguars, it looks like Vince Young will be back in the line-up against the Eagles. Will the Titans try to run extra snaps out of the shotgun to protect Young’s knee?

TitansGab: Honestly, I don’t think its that big of an issue. You may see more quick slants, screens, and definitely more runs for Chris Johnson and Javon Ringer to help aid Vince. I think the shotgun will be used more, that’s a given, but I don’t think it will be overly emphasized as expected. If Young is in, he will then be healthy enough to play, thus meaning he will be healthy enough to play under center. Jeff Fisher will not alter his game plan around that much for #10. He’s an old-school coach who runs the show. He will not let Vince dictate his team. More times than not Young will be under center More shotgun, but not as much as you would imagine.

EG: The Titans seem to rely on Chris Johnson’s success on the ground. His numbers in the team’s two losses really show that. What did Pittsburgh and Denver do successfully against Johnson to slow him down on the ground?

TG: Both defenses ran their 3-4 scheme to perfection against Chris. They possessed the rangy linebackers to pursuit Johnson, and limit his yards after contact. The big thing defending “Mr. 2500” is you have to deny him from getting the majority of his yardage after the first hit. Both Pittsburgh and Denver did just that. They also held him to long gains on the ground of just 11 and 8. They prevented the big play to jump start him. Another thing, they kept his carry total to under 20 and his yards per carry under three. The best defense for Johnson could be to have the athletic linebackers to meet him quickly, and then have another one there to get him if he breaks the tackle. The 3-4 does just that, as shown with Pittsburgh and Denver. I say this because the Titans offensive line is as good as it gets blocking the defense’s front line. Consider this: if you get up on the Titans, you alter their hand, force them to throw more, and that means less Johnson. The less opportunities for Johnson, the less chances you give him to break a game wide open with one of his signature long runs. In each of the Titans four wins, he had a long of at least 35.

EG: Derrick Morgan was one of the many defensive ends to be drafted early this year, but it doesn’t seem like he’s had much success for the Titans this year. What can that be attributed to?

TG: Morgan is out for the season with a torn ACL, yet the Titans haven’t missed a beat without the former Yellow Jacket, sacking the QB an NFL best 24 times.

EG: The Titans defense starts two players who played for the Eagles last year. What are your impressions of Jason Babin and Will Witherspoon at this point in the season?

TG: Babin is in the top five with six sacks and Witherspoon looked like a guy possessed Monday night against Jacksonville. Babin is playing like a man on a mission, but can you blame him? He’s down to his last chance and is playing like a loose cannon with “house money”. Much of the success getting to the QB has to been due to Jason’s play. You almost can attribute the team’s pass rush to his re-emergence -he’s been that good. The front seven is just vicious and there’s no doubt Will is more than part of the viciousness that’s taking place in the Tennessee front seven. He’s a ball hawk who’s all over the field and has been playing with fire lately. Both defenders have been more than just pleasant surprises, they have been leaders and two of the many reasons why the Titans defense is one of the best not only in the AFC, but the entire NFL.

EG: What are your thoughts on the recent play of Kevin Kolb? Do you think he matches up better against the Titans then Michael Vick as the Titans seem to have more success defensively against the run then the pass?

TG: Kolb was nearly flawless against Atlanta. He impressed me a ton. However, the way the Titans defense has been performing and hitting as of late, no QB wants to play them right now. They are taking on the mentality and aggressiveness of their coach, overseer Chuck Cecil. No mercy is their motto. Cortland Finnegan is one of the toughest players in the game today, and since DeSean isn’t playing, Cortland will go toe-to-toe with Maclin all afternoon long. He is super physical, will jam you, and plays over-the-top rough. As rugged as they come. Pound-for-pound he is widely noticed as one of the league’s most ruthless players. Many players have described him and his defense as “dirty” and “cheap”. With that said, Kolb will be in for a long day considering the Titans have the NFL’s best pass rush and the Eagles offensive line is rather dismal. Strength vs. weakness. Nonetheless, the Tennessee defense plays with such reckless abandon, that the way to beat them will be to utilize play-action as use their strength against them. Their strength is their over-aggressiveness and it could turn into a weakness if you expose them early with tricky plays and misdirections.

EG: On Sunday, where will the Titans have an advantage on offense? On defense?

TG: Titans Offense: Chris Johnson attempting off-tackle, cutback runs. Titans on 1st down running the football and during 2nd and 3rd & short opportunities with Johnson. Also, during draws and delays the Titans and Johnson will have an advantage against an over-pursuing Philadelphia front seven. The play-action will be another area where Tennessee will attack the Eagles defense successfully. Better get a lead early if you want to slow down Johnson.

Titans Defense: DL vs. Eagles OL. As noted above.

EG: Where will the Eagles have an advantage on offense? On defense?

TG: Eagles Offense: Kolb going play-action on 1st and 2nd & short. You can catch the Titans defense biting more times than not. Also, LeSean McCoy in space will be another advantage. Any time they get him going he make the Titans D pay.

Eagles Defense: Trent Cole and Brandon Graham bull rushing during 3rd down passing situations. The tough tandem at tackle for the Titans, Roos and Stewart, can be beaten by speed rushers.

EG: What player could be a potential x-factor for the Titans on Sunday?

TG: Michael Griffin or Alterraun Verner. Cortland receives all the pub, but these guys in the secondary can play too. Both are ball hawks who can make a play on a run back after an interception. Very talented, Kolb better be careful and pick his spots wisely. Pick-six potential. I’ll choose the 4th round rookie from UCLA, Verner. He’s more an “x-factor” because his less known than the former Longhorn Griffin.

EG: Give me a score prediction.

TG: 23-13 Titans. Physicality will prevail. I believe the Titans are still upset with the heartbreaking loss they suffered the last time they were at home.

Chris Johnson

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