An abject failure of the game puts the #1 seed in a precarious position. Plenty of time to turn things around, but Sunday showed just how mortal the Titans are.
Ryan Tannehill: Let’s go ahead and get this one out of the way. Ryan Tannehill was very bad on Sunday. He threw 4 INTs against a very bad Texans team, including two to former Titan, Desmond King. The first one was unacceptable. He didn’t see the LB underneath and threw right to him. Awful throw, and the result was deserved.
The next two interceptions? I believe Dez Fitzpatrick was more to blame than Tannehill. The 2nd pick looked like Dez ran the wrong route, and on top of that, made very little effort to get back to the ball.
The 3rd interception was flat out Dez’s fault. Tannehill threw it to where Dez should have been on an in route and Dez wasn’t there because he ran the wrong route.
INT four was a classic situation of trying to press and threw it into coverage trying to make something happen even though he had Hilliard open underneath.
Overall, it’s a game that can’t happen again. You have to flush it and move on. We know Tannehill is capable of high level play, now he needs to regain that form. I thought he did a nice job of moving the ball through the air until he shot the team in the foot with INTs. He’s got to finish drives without the playmakers, but more on that later.
Special Teams: Randy Bullock missed an extra point and Chester Rogers made an insanely bad play on a punt return, leading to points for Houston. This team also continues to take the ball out of the end zone on kick returns when they should just be taking the touch back. The Rogers play killed any momentum the defense had built by getting a stop on a long 3rd quarter drive by Houston. If that play doesn’t happen, you have to wonder if things would have turned out differently.
Offensive playmakers: Point blank, there are no playmakers left on offense in terms of skill players. A.J. Brown left the game with a chest injury and Marcus Johnson with a hamstring. That left Nick Westbrook-Ikhine as the defacto WR1. He did an ok job, but you’re not going to win many games against good opponents with the group they had out there.
Offseason reinforcements: This offseason the Titans lost Jonnu Simth and Corey Davis, two decent offensive weapons. The response was to trade for Julio Jones and draft Dez Fitzpatrick. Not enough. Dez is a major work in progress, who you do not want to get a large volume of snaps. Julio is Julio, but his health has been an issue dating back to last year. The idea that only those two players would replace what you lost was and is a big mistake. No viable replacement for Jonnu Smith means that Geoff Swaim and Anthony Firkser are continually miscast with leading roles.
Jon Robinson should have been more aggressive this offseason in adding weapons. Relying on just three players to carry an offense is ok in theory if they are all healthy. However, it’s the NFL and injuries happen. The Titans needed contingency plans and they were woefully unprepared for an injured squad.
Overall fan sanity: Titans Twitter rarely handles anything well, but a loss in which the QB throws four INTs, you can guarantee that some overreactions were had. More to come on Thursday, but you saw everything from “the season is over” to “Tannehill can’t win a Super Bowl” to “The Titans need to move on from Tanny” all in a few hour period.
Yes, the loss stunk, but it doesn’t rewrite the last 6 weeks for Tennessee. The Titans lead the league in wins over 2020 playoff teams and that shouldn’t be forgotten. They are 2-1 without Derrick Henry. They still are the #1 seed in the AFC and they control their own destiny in regard to that first round bye. Win next week against the Patriots and a lot of the bad that happened on Sunday gets washed away.
Elijah Molden: The lone bright spot on the day was Molden. The rookie is the only player from the 2021 draft class that is contributing in a meaningful way. 6 tackles and a QB hit, he also did a good job covering Brevin Jordan during the contest. Vrabel praised him after the game, which is hard to come by. The future is bright for Molden and this Titans team once they get to full health.