What a game. The Titans were at Metlife Stadium on Sunday, but that’s about it. A first half that saw quite a few missed opportunities ended up foreshadowing an extremely poor result.
Coaching: I won’t go as far as to say the Titans didn’t show up, because they did. They gave up just one scoring drive in the first half and put together three of their own. However, they weren’t able to properly adjust in this game and made several massive errors.
I’ll start with special teams. Randy Bullock is not good. Yes, he made three field goals in the first half. He also made a 49 yard field goal to tie the game in overtime look like it was a 70 yard attempt. Johnny Townsend’s first punt went 15 yards. Who are the coaches that are watching these guys in their workouts? They should be fired. This is not hyperbole either. The special teams staff continues to make finding guys that can punt or kick field goals look near impossible. I promise there are more than 32 capable punters and kickers in the world. Unfortunately this staff is allergic to them.
Offensively, the Titans could not finish drives, which ended up dooming them. 3rd down sacks ended chances to get needed touchdowns. Far too many missed assignments in pass protection, whether it was Henry, Swaim, or the linemen. The pass catchers did not do a good enough job of getting open, either, and sometimes when they did get open, they dropped it. Here’s looking at you, NWI, Reynolds, and Firkser.
Lastly, the defensive viewing experience is like Groundhog’s Day. They are going to blow coverages every single game. They are going to play off man in inopportune times. They can’t wrap up on mobile QBs. Will it ever get better? Probably not with the same defensive coaches. Hopefully the offense gets it going, because this team is not stopping Mahomes or Allen.
Ryan Tannehill’s pocket awareness: Tannehill was sacked seven times, which as you may imagine, is not great. Some of the sacks were certainly on his pass protection, but there were more than a few that were on Tannehill. He was completely unable to feel pressure, and it proved disastrous. In 2019, this was definitely an issue with Ryan, but he improved on it vastly in 2020. He’ll need to make it a point of emphasis again, and quick.
Jon Robinson: Injuries are going to happen in the NFL, that’s just the name of the game. The trick is to insulate yourself as best as possible from injuries. That means making good decisions in both free agency and the draft. The Titans spent heavily on defense this offseason. Their highest priced free agent was Bud Dupree, who was coming off of an ACL tear. Dupree hasn’t played a snap the last two weeks, which is fine. You want the Titans to be able to have him healthy for the stretch run. That being said, your starting OLBs were Landry (who has been great), and Ola Adeniyi (a guy you signed to be a special teams guy). Not ideal.
On offense, the Titans ignored the voids left by Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis until post-draft, where they traded for Julio Jones. A good move? Unquestionably. The issue is that Jones was injured for most of 2020 and was probably going to miss games in 2021. So if Jones misses games, who would be the WR2? What if both A.J. Brown and Julio miss games, is there someone who could step up as a WR1 for a few games? Jon Robinson’s answer consists of Josh Reynolds, Chester Rogers, and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine. None of those guys are good enough.
As we saw Sunday, they cannot be relied upon to consistently separate or even catch the ball. 2020 and 2021 were two of the most WR-loaded drafts in recent memory and the Titans came out of them with Dez Fitzpatrick and Racey McMath. Jon Robinson and Co. were ok with having Anthony Firkser as the best pass catching TE and Geoff Swaim as the TE1. Swaim has been nothing short of awful this year, and Firkser has been either hurt or ineffective. I was surprised when the front office didn’t make a move for a more well rounded TE this offseason, and it seems that with injuries to other positions, the lack of quality depth is rearing it’s head.
Another issue I’ve seen brought up repeatedly is that the offensive line stinks. What’s incredibly odd about that is the Titans have three offensive linemen that are compensated extremely well, and they also have spent two high draft picks at the tackle position over the last two years. 2020’s first rounder is now with the Giants and the 2021 second rounder can’t beat out journeymen swing linemen for a backup job. What’s worse is that it seems the Titans will be in the market for another lineman this offseason if things keep trending the way they are. My advice? Pay for one, since it appears you have zero ability to draft a suitable player.
Harold Landry: What a contract year Harold is having. Another sack and he led the team in tackles, Landry also moonlighted as a slot cornerback at times. I hope the Titans keep him around, because he’s really blossoming into a great player. He’s on pace for 10 sacks this year, and if Bud gets healthy to go across from him, I can see that number getting even higher. One of the few bright spots on defense.
Derrick Henry: 33 carries for 157 yards and a touchdown. Another ho-hum effective day for the King. It wasn’t enough, obviously, but with a stat line like that, you would have expected a win. The Titans dominated time of possession, yardage, and first downs, in part due to Henry, but the lack of touchdowns in the first half killed the offense. Better things are ahead for this offense. They are too talented to be this bad. They’ll need the talent to actually be on the field in a couple weeks.
The only place to go: This one is simple. When you lose to what was the worst team in the NFL, and the worst offense in NFL history, you have reached rock bottom in terms of embarrassing losses. Where’s the only place to go? Up.