A pitiful effort against a divisional foe that has proven to just be okay this year. You have the chance to go up two games in the division and you put up that effort? Yikes. The usual suspects were at it again: defense, special teams, and injuries. Let’s get to who was up, and who was down.
Special Teams: Ryan Allen had a terrific day punting on Sunday against the Bears. So what did the Titans do? Signed another punter to replace him for Thursday Night Football. The ex-but-soon-to-be-again-FedEx employee Trevor Daniel had an incredible 17-yard punt and also had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown. I’m assuming if Brett Kern is out another game, it’ll be Ryan Allen punting.
You thought the special teams gaffes were limited to the punting game? Think again! Another game, another miss for Stephen Gostkowski. It is absolutely embarrassing that this team continues to trot him out there. Eight misses on the year!
The defense: Speaking of embarrassing, the defense continues to be awful unless it’s playing Josh Allen or Nick Foles. The defensive backs play seven or more yards off their man, which allows every QB to pick them apart with short passes. This is clearly a blind spot for the coaching staff, and it’s unacceptable for it to happen week in and week out.
Nyheim Hines had 115 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns, and I think if the Colts had gone to him on every play, he would have set the record for most yards in a game. Once again, the Titans had no answer.
The coaching staff: The offense is inconsistent, the defense is terrible, and the special teams are something to behold. After a 5-0 start, the wheels have completely come off for the Titans, going 1-3 in the last four games.
Mike Vrabel has been coy regarding who is calling the shots on defense. Personally, I do not care if there is a defensive coordinator or not. I do care if the Titans decide to continue to not press the opposing receivers. Does that fix the defense? Probably not, however, I know they haven’t tried it this year. Can it be worse?
The other frustrating part of this staff is the inability this year to overcome any sort of negative plays. When A.J. Brown dropped the pass in the first quarter that would have put them up 14-0, it felt like the team lost some steam. After the 3rd and 1 sack on Tannehill in the 3rd quarter, it felt over, even before the scintillating 17-yard punt from Daniel.
First half offense: Arthur Smith was awesome in the first half. He dialed up a terrific first drive that ended with a D’Onta Foreman touchdown. On the second drive, Ryan Tannehill threw a great pass to A.J. Brown, and unfortunately Brown dropped the sure touchdown. Smith then had another great touchdown drive capped by a Jonnu Smith rushing TD. In the second half, the Titans caught up with their old nemesis, stagnation. This is the positives section, though, so I’ll stop there.
The chances the Titans will revamp their linebacking corps in 2021: In short, the Titans linebackers are poor. Jayon has been better in recent weeks, but Evans has consistently put up stinker after stinker. Poor in coverage and poor in the run game unless the opposing offense is on the one-yard line. The Titans have to get better this offseason at this position. As Mike Vrabel would say, they have to coach better, and they have to play better.
Every time the Titans play the Colts, I’m reminded of one specific thing. The Titans drafted Rashaan Evans in the first round of the same draft that the Colts took Darius Leonard in the second round. Leonard has gone on to become one of the best linebackers in football and Rashaan Evans is stuck in neutral.
The doubters: Every time I see some national pundit disrespect the Titans, or call them pretenders, I get upset at first. Then I remember games like this and admit they are correct. The Titans are elite at one thing: destroying dreams. Any time you think this team is elite, it’s time to stop and realize they are about to disappoint you.
The good news for this team is that they have 10 days to try and stop the bleeding. They now have a week and a half to get a bit healthier, find a new kicker, and get the offense back on track. We’ve seen great play from the team before, let’s see it again.