There was a lot of speculation and endless questions for the Tennessee Titans going into the 2014 season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. Quarterback Jake Locker was coming off an injury prone season, which prompted the front office to decline the option to pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. The defense went through a dramatic change, switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4, and with running back Chris Johnson gone to New York, someone was needed to step up and be the feature in the back field.
The Titans not only answered those questions, but put an exclamation mark at the end of the game, which let the Chiefs and the entire league know that change is in the air, and it is a good thing. The Titans routed the Chiefs, 26-10.
From start to finish, the Titans dominated every aspect of the game, from offense to special teams. The offense looked sharp and the defense was strong against the Kansas City run, led by star running back Jamaal Charles, who was held to just 19 yards on seven carries.
Many people were wondering how Locker would do coming off an injury and working under his third offensive coordinator as a starter. Before his injury last year, Locker was looking to have a break out year through the first four games. It seemed as if Locker was out to do the same thing this year. He did his job; he played smart with the ball and more importantly, didn’t turn the ball over. Locker finished the day 22-33 for 266 yards and two touchdowns.
Although Chris Johnson didn’t exactly play up to expectations after receiving his big contract back in 2011, he still left some big shoes to fill in Tennessee, with Shonn Green, rookie Bishop Sankey, and newly acquired utility player Dexter McCluster to carry the work load. The approach that the Titans took was to have a committee at running back rather than have a primary feature back, and it seemed to work for the offense. Green finished the day with 71 yards, leading the team in rushing.
Arguably the biggest question was how the defense was going to transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Players were in new positions and were a little shaky in the preseason. The Titans clearly turned on the switch as they dominated in the pass and run. The defense caught three interceptions from Alex Smith, who had thrown only 17 interceptions in the past three seasons at quarterback. Smith was also held to under 200 yards through the air.
The Titans proved a lot of people wrong with the upset at Arrowhead Stadium. They were in a hostile environment, playing against a playoff team that had 11 wins last years. It was not perfect by any means, but they got the job done and got the win.