As the Tennessee Titans walked off the field after their disastrous 27-24 loss to the New York Jets, one thought ran through my mind quite a few times.
This football team has problems, both at the surface and beneath, that won’t be fixed with the metaphorical snap of a finger.
Here’s the deal.
It’d be one thing if this banged up Titans team lost to another team with a good roster, functioning pieces on both sides of the ball, and a clean bill of health that’d probably make the Titans jealous at this point.
But that’s the thing, the team Tennessee lost to yesterday doesn’t have a good roster, it indeed has functioning pieces on both sides of the ball but not at the level of a juggernaut, and the health situation there is in the green light at this time. No, the Titans — a supposed team on the cusp of making the jump from a forgettable AFC playoff contender to a big time AFC contender — lost to a squad that’s in the middle of another rebuild because the previous rebuild failed to materialize into something respectable.
A squad that fired their second head coach since 2015 this past offseason, a squad that’s on its second supposed franchise quarterback since 2018, a squad that’s been so deep in the waters of toxicity and failure that some thought the franchise was going to be held back by the nagging hands of mediocrity for the foreseeable future.
Do I go on?
There’s a saying that states no game is easy in the NFL. It’s true in a sense since every single team across the league possesses an ample amount of the best players this sport has to offer. But games like yesterday are supposed to be “easy” for a team of the Titans’ stature.
No matter what Kevin Byard says.
“Just because they [the Jets] were 0-3, doesn’t mean they’re a bad team.” Byard said.
Jon Robinson’s project has given Tennessee am ample amount of talent depth across the entire roster. Receiver, edge rusher, linebacker, Robinson has done a good enough job at injecting this team with the necessary pieces to win football games like the “gimme” ones that went down yesterday.
So when you lose those type of games, questions will be asked and fingers will be pointed.
One of those fingers is being pointed at the offensive line right now, and their inability to protect their franchise asset under center in Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill was sacked 25 total times last season according to StatMuse. Through four weeks this season, Tannehill has been sacked an alarming 17 times, one more ahead of the New York Jets for the most sacks allowed in the league, and a mere eight sacks less than their entire total last season.
This lack of protection has seemingly made this passing offense a complete train wreck. Five man protections, six man protections, whatever the Titans have tried to do protection wise, there just hasn’t been any consistency when it comes to keeping Tannehill off the ground.
Once these lapses in protection occur, the Titans’ offense gets into unfavorable down and distance situations, allowing defenses to pin their ears back and send a multitude of blitzing bodies at this Titans offensive line. What comes next? Well I believe that’s been emphasized at this point.
“We have very high expectations of ourselves [the offensive line] and this offense,” David Quessenberry explained. “To go out there and not execute to our standard is disappointing.”
Just like the offensive line and the entire offense as a whole though, the defense has also struggled to maintain consistency from drive to drive.
The Jets struggled on offense through the first quarter and a half, finding it difficult to move the ball against an improved Titans defensive unit. However, once the back end of the first half half began, the Titans’ defense suddenly found it quite puzzling in terms of solving the Jets’ offensive attack.
That time in the game changed momentum and set the flow of the game for the rest of the contest.
Zach Wilson, who wasn’t trusted to throw the ball on long down and distances on second and third down early in the game, was connecting with receivers all over the field for big gains. The run game which couldn’t help set that offense up for easier second and third down opportunities during the first quarter, began to chup away and gain some important yardage on first down.
When you fail to stomp on a team’s throat early, you’re giving them ammo to jump back into a game they have no business being in. It’s like toying around with an opposing side in an old school war, give them enough time to work with gunpowder and you might be in a load of trouble.
“You kind of want to get on them early and stay on them early,” Byard said. “If you don’t, you’re giving them hope.”
“You end up losing”.
If the Titans want to be the team they want to be, there has to be an extra emphasis on staying consistent doing the little things that help your team rack up wins in the record column. That means blitz pick up, switching up flows play calling wise, not losing focus during crucial moments of a game, these are all simple, yet difficult tasks that can have such a big impact on a contest.
If you fail to execute these things though, you could end up thinking back on what could’ve been, like the Titans are doing right about now.