Have the Titans officially reached their breaking point?

After the Tennessee Titans lost to the Philadelphia Eagles last week, head coach Mike Vrabel said his team were at a crossroads.

The blowout loss to the Eagles was the Titans’ second straight loss, putting them at 7-5, and further pushing this team into a sinkhole they’ve unintentionally created for themselves. The hole hadn’t become one impossible to climb out of yet, but it the depth at the bottom was quickly reaching unfathomable levels.

Despite that though, the outlook still appeared more encouraging than bleak, mostly due to the fact that the Titans’ schedule looked more manageable than not, and their hold on the AFC South wasn’t letting up anytime soon.

That’s why despite the shortcomings in the previous two weeks, today’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars was seen as an opportunity to “get right”.

The Titans had the Jaguars’ numbers for more than half a decade, losing only one game to Jacksonville since the 2017 season, with the lone loss coming on a forgotten Thursday night game on the road. Add in the fact that Derrick Henry has historically owned the Jaguars and you begin to envision a potential recipe for success.

But unfortunately for the Titans, they received a cruel lesson, which was to never lean — or at least theoretically lean — on any historical advantages you might have. As the Titans got completely drubbed by the Jaguars by a score of 36-22, further extending their losing streak, and bringing up an important question in the process.

Have Mike Vrabel’s Titans met their match?

“Nothing was good enough today.” Mike Vrabel said.

Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes

Unlike their previous losses, the Titans didn’t lose because of their inability to consistently move the football and keep up when it comes to the situation on the scoreboard. Instead, it was a blatant, mistake filled performance that made the Titans meet their doom, and continue their late season free fall.

That’s a sentence you usually don’t use to describe a Titans performance under Mike Vrabel, even after the given losses this team has had to suffer through over the last few seasons. They’re usually wired to keep mistakes to a minimal, play disciplined football, and give themselves a good shot to win games when it’s all set and done.

But all the previously thought notions went out the window today, as the Titans completely fell apart in the intangible aspect of the game.

Four turnovers, nine penalties, the mishaps were aplenty today. Especially in the turnover department, as all four of the Titans’ turnovers came during a point in which momentum was well on the Titans’ side. None were more crushing than the two first half turnovers, which prevented the Titans from fully building upon a first half effort that frankly should’ve been rewarded in a handsome way.

The first turnover came as a result of some miscommunication between Ryan Tannehill and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine. Tannehill threw a quick pass just after the snap, in hopes of taking advantage of a pre-snap look he personally saw. Instead, Westbrook-Ikhine didn’t go for the ball, but a quick downfield block instead.

The ball was intercepted and a promising Titans drive came to a screeching halt.

The second turnover was even more damaging, as another Titans drive was put to a stop due to a fumble by Derrick Henry. Henry had just caught a pass and was aiming on fighting for more yards as he rumbled past the first down marker. But as he was getting tackled, a vicious hit was laid on him, and he fumbled the ball right into the arms of Jaguars pass rusher Josh Allen.

Both of those drives were well on their way towards giving the Titans even more points, this after a promising first quarter that saw the Titans’ offense move the football down the field.

A rare sight indeed.

However, those turnovers kept the Titans’ point total at 14, and prevented them from finding a way back into the groove of the game

Usually, we see this Titans team fight through adversity and find ways to keep themselves in games in spite of the mistakes they make. However, they couldn’t fight through those crucial errors, and have lost their third straight game as a result.

The turnovers and penalties weren’t the only bloopers from the Titans either.

You can include the inability to cover Evan Engram — 11 catches, 162 yards, and two touchdowns — the lack of important third down stops when the game was still in reach, the complete lack of a pass rush — something the Titans considered a strength of theirs earlier in the season — and even the lack of pass protection from the Titans’ offensive line, as poor gaffes that Tennessee could’ve gone without.

Whatever the case may be, it was a poor showing filled with uncharacteristic mistakes, a development you blatantly don’t want to look in the eye with the stretch run drawing to a close.

Looking forward

This latest loss has put the Titans in a difficult spot.

They’re still in a good spot to win their division, as the disappointing Indianapolis Colts and even the recently surging Jaguars, have little possibilities of pulling off one of the more miraculous divisional comebacks in NFL history.

But beyond any divisional title, the outlook looks pretty rough overall.

For starters, the Titans have a pretty difficult schedule remaining, that’s if you take into account the Titans’ recent play and the challenges their opponents should give them.

You have two divisional games remaining, one coming on the road against the Jaguars in Week 18, and another coming at home in just under two weeks against the Texans. To top that off, you have two more games against tough opponents that are going to really test the Titans, the Los Angeles Chargers — on the road — and the Dallas Cowboys — the Titans’ second Thursday night game of the season.

If the Titans want to avoid a nasty slide before potentially heading to the playoffs — yes potentially, with the way this team has played recently, questions are bound to arise regarding their hold on the division — they’ll simply need to avoid embarrassing themselves during this crucial final stretch.

Odds are they’ll avoid such a scenario, but all bets are off when a team is stuck in quicksand, like the Titans are now.

The Titans have to prove to the world that they haven’t reached their boiling point, that this season isn’t a lost cause for everyone involved. The only question that remains is if they have the will to do so.

We’ll find out over the course of the month.

“We understand there’s going to be some ups and downs,” Vrabel said. “We’re gonna have to be able to weather the storm and find out who’s willing to give us that extra push down the stretch.”

Featured image via George Walker-USA TODAY NETWORK

Author: TreJean WatkinsTre Watkins is a writer who has covered the Titans since 2019 for BlackSportsOnline, The Brawl Network, and now Broadway Sports Media. FC Barcelona and Yankees baseball are his two loves, Forca Barca!

Leave a Reply