Posted by ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky
What I think they are thinking Monday in the headquarters of the four AFC South teams…
The Raiders provided us with a confidence boost. That’s a team we are better than, and our talent showed. We got big plays from places we expect -- Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, Steve Slaton, Brian Cushing -- and the sort of X factor moment you hope for from a guy like Jacoby Jones. If we feel better about ourselves and have a little additional swagger thanks to this one, that’s great. But we’ll need more than that to find wins in Arizona and Cincinnati. If the game against the Cardinals turns out to feature a lot of Kurt Warner chucking it and we can’t stop those plays, we’ve got to simply roll up our sleeves and prove we’re equipped to win a shootout that goes beyond the one we won a few weeks ago in Tennessee. Let’s hope the swine flu isn’t about to get in our way.
When we get rolling like this, it’s hard for anyone to interrupt our flow. We’ve got to make sure we do all in our power to keep it going, especially against winless opponents the next two weeks. Veterans will spend the week reminding the young guys that 4-0 against 0-4 doesn’t mean anything comes automatically when you’re talking about a semi-heated division rivalry, and we owe the Titans for the loss they dealt us in similar circumstances last season. It sure looks like a nice matchup, though, doesn’t it? They’ve gotten torched by Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub and David Garrard, and are really struggling to stay close in coverage. We just happen to have a quarterback who’s better equipped to abuse such things better than anyone.
Is our 24 hours to enjoy this up yet? Because, boy was that sweet! The win in Houston came down to the end, but this one was us at our best. We’ve got a whole new confidence. We handled a team everyone thinks has better people than we do, and we did it without our two starting offensive tackles, showing off our depth. We even got to rest or big gun, Maurice Jones-Drew, after we pulled away. The blank canvas element to our team is allowing people like Mike Sims-Walker and Mike Thomas to emerge and start to make names for themselves. A quarter of the way into our season, we’ve measure ourselves against our three division rivals and guess what? We’re the second-best team.
Bud Adams took a hit when he mandated Vince Young play back in his rookie year after a terrible start. The phone won’t ring with similar orders now. But after the Colts Sunday night and a trip to New England, if we’re still struggling, it may well be time to make the change from Kerry Collinsto Young, so see if he can spark us and to make a public showing out of getting a “final verdict” on VY even though we’ve got a pretty good idea he’s not our long-term guy. Jeff Fisher will undoubtedly continue to preach steady, but steady may not be the answer right now. We need some sort of fireworks, some sort of jolt. Who can provide it?