The Kansas City Chiefs started 9-0 last year and made the playoffs, while the Tennessee Titans – who went 7-9 – finished below .500 for the second consecutive season. Thus, very people expected the Titans to beat the Chiefs in Week 1 on Sunday, especially since the game was at Arrowhead Stadium.
Well, the Titans didn’t just win; they dominated. Tennessee led 23-3 in the fourth quarter and ultimately won, 26-10.
“I believe a lot of people thought that (we were going to lose),” Titans tight end Delanie Walker said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “But here in Nashville, Tennessee, we knew we was going to go in there and get a win. We knew we had doubters. We like that, though.”
Walker was one of Jake Locker’s main targets Sunday, finishing with three catches for 37 yards and a touchdown. Locker was limited to seven games last year due to a foot injury, but he looked solid against the Chiefs, going 22-of-33 for 266 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed six times for 14 yards.
“He was like the Jake I always remember,” Walker said. “He’s always going to go into a game prepared and play his heart out – and he did that (Sunday). He put us in the right situation. He made the right reads, and when the reads wasn’t there, he ran with it and got yards for us. That’s the type of stuff you want from a quarterback. You want a leader to step in there and make throws and take chances. And he did that.”
Locker, who ran a lot during his collegiate career at the University of Washington, is trying to find a balance between running enough to keep defenses honest, but not running so much that it becomes an injury risk.
Has he found the right mix?
“I think he has,” Walker said. “It’s still early, but I think he found it. He throws the ball when he needs to. If he feels like he’s got to get out of the pocket, he does it. We always tell him, ‘Do what you feel like you got to do. You’re the quarterback. You see it. We don’t.’ I think he’s been making the right choices so far.”
The Titans are only one game into Ken Whisenhunt’s offensive system, but so far, so good. Tennessee rushed 38 times for 162 yards (4.3 yards per carry) against Kansas City and didn’t commit a turnover.
“It is tight end-friendly,” Walker said of the new system, “but I don’t think my role changes much. I still got to go out there and make plays. We got a lot of guys that can make plays.”
Eight Titans, in fact, caught at least one ball, including justin Hunter, who had three catches for a team-high 63 yards, and Kendall Wright, who caught a team-high six balls for 46 yards and a touchdown.
“Everybody needs to touch the ball,” Walker said. “We need to establish the run game. Then our passing game will open up.”
As it stands, the Titans are happy to start the season with a road win – not to mention a one-game lead over Indianapolis in the standings.
“When you run off the field and you see no one in the crowd, that’s the best feeling in the world,” Walker said. “Knowing that we came into Arrowhead and won like that – basically (because we were more physical) – that’s a great feeling. We were excited, but we knew we could do that. The type of team we got, the type of players we have here, we knew we could go in there and do that. But it felt good just to see all (those) empty seats as we’re running off the field.”