When you receive a bye week this late into the season, you generally get the chance to do two important things.
The opportunity to recover after a few months worth of taxing preparation and competition against the best athletes the sport of football has to offer, which can’t go overlooked by any means because of the idea of health management is so important.
You also get the chance to reflect on what you’ve done to this point, and depending on your standing in the playoff race, an opportunity to make any necessary changes within the team to prepare for the stretch run. Those changes could be schematic, geared towards philosophy, or even methodical changes that might impact some of the smaller things within the team or organization.
Either way, the bye week during this point of the season stands as an opportunity for relaxation, recovery, and a period of important reflecting.
For the Tennessee Titans, the bye week presents a chance for them to do both of those things, and they need them in the worst possible way. Their 36-13 loss against the New England Patriots today proved that notion even truer.
For a while, the Titans stuck in there and scrapped with all they had on the road against a Patriots team that was riding high for five consecutive weeks. The run game was very effective — albeit it was the only concept the Titans could run with supreme confidence and consistency — and the defense made just enough stops in the red zone to give this incredibly shorthanded team a chance.
A chance to not only knock off one of the league’s hottest teams, but to stay atop the AFC in the midst of a heated top seed race in the conference.
But once the second half began, the foundation began to break down due to turnovers and a lack of overall talent that was made possible because of the dire injury situation that the team is currently trying to navigate through. The process of destabilization sort of portrayed an old building set to be detonated, steady and still at first, but completely demolished once the dynamite goes boom.
The Titans at this point aren’t an old, rickety building that needs to be demolished by explosives. But they’re one that’s in need of renovations by way of injury reinforcements and a much needed discussion regarding their offensive consistency.
In terms of injury reinforcements, one week isn’t going to bring back your entire list of players on injured reserve. That’s not how recovery works, and if it did, we’d never have to rely on modern recovery methods that have been a mainstay in the practice of medicine for years.
But what this week will do is give a couple of players a chance to gear themselves up for a likely return in the foreseeable future.
Julio Jones’ injured reserve stint is set to end once the Titans return next week, a welcomed return of a prized playmaker that should immediately demand targets due to A.J. Brown’s current injured reserve stay. David Long Jr., one of the most improved players on the Titans’ defense this season, could return to action after a lengthy absence due to a hamstring injury. Teair Tart, Rashaan Evans, Jeremy McNichols, and potentially Nate Davis are other names that could return soon after the bye week.
Of course the potential returns of these players won’t magically end all of the Titans’ injury concerns. But they’d certainly help make things flow easier on the field, something this team needs desperately right now.
Aside from the obvious injury discussions, a reflection on the Titans’ offensive consistency is also something that could be on tap. Even when this offense was healthy, there were too many inconsistencies on the offensive side of the ball, whether it was due to player performance or mistakes made on the coaching side by offensive coordinator Todd Downing.
Like the injury situation, Downing isn’t going to reverse course and suddenly become the perfect flowing playcaller that Arthur Smith was at times last season, that just isn’t how these type of things go. However, the bye will in fact give Downing a good chance to look over what’s worked, what hasn’t, and base a plan surrounding those reflection sessions to use for the rest of the season.
These “remedies” of sort aren’t revolutionary ideas, in fact they’ve been used and handled with care for the better part of the last half century in the NFL. But they’ve worked, they’ve worked in the past and they still work today, so the essence of time wearing on them isn’t much of a concern.
The Titans needed a refresh very badly.
They’ve been beaten, they’ve been battered, and they’ve been depleted during their first 12 games of the season. This refresh should give them a chance to finally unwind and forget fighting for their methodical lives while having to battle unfortunate circumstances that have hampered this team greatly.
Will the Titans come out of the bye ready to roll against the Jacksonville Jaguars in two weeks? I’d bet on it. Will their injury crisis soften up? I’d bet on that as well. That isn’t a given though, and we’ll have to wait a while to see if it ends up being one.