Once Randy Bullock’s 36 yard field goal split the upright and silenced the Seattle Seahawks’ raucous home crowd, the sun set on another typical Tennessee Titans thriller that made stomachs hurt due to anxiety and hearts pound so fast that the heartbeats could’ve been mistaken for drum solos.
It was a come from behind victory that many didn’t think was possible, mainly because of how poor the Titans were in the first half. Failed red zone trips, busts in coverage deep down the field, it was such a mess on both sides of the ball that no one would’ve faulted you for turning the game off and busying yourself with various miscellaneous tasks that could’ve taken up time on your rainy Sunday in Nashville.
If you stuck around and didn’t pick up that remote to change the channel, then you witnessed a victory that could be a potential indicator of how special this Titans team can be in 2021.
You can call this drunk optimism or me jumping the gun and being weirdly positive about this team and its makeup as a strong league wide threat.
However, watching the second half of this contest gave me something to think about pertaining to this team’s status in the foreseeable future, specifically their ability to contend with the best of the best around the league. We saw the offense explode in the second half, in particular Derrick Henry and his ability to change an offense’s outlook for the better. That same explosion has been brewing for a while as well, the unit just needed to capitalize on its trips to the red zone by putting seven points on the board instead of settling for drive killing field goals.
But what impressed me the most and this team’s ability to move the needle regarding their status as a contender, was the exceptional play of their defense against an offense that had already burned them a number of times earlier in the game.
If you remember correctly — and I know you do — this was the same unit that couldn’t stop Kyler Murray from playing the complicated game of football like a Madden game on rookie difficulty. The same unit that couldn’t stop Deandre Hopkins from continuing his dominance against his old divisional punching bag, even on a new team in a new division and in a brand new conference. The same unit that looked soft in the only aspect defensively that went right for them during an embarassing 2020 season.
Despite all the negative energy surrounding them, they found a way to consistently string together stops against an offense that came into the game possessing one of the scariest deep passing attacks in all of football. The scoreboard and yardage totals might not back that notion up — 30 points and 397 total yards respectfully for Seattle — but when the team needed a big stop, this defense answered the call for the most part.
Now performances in week one, two, maybe even three shouldn’t be labeled as indicators as to whether a player, unit, or team will be good or bad for an entire year. But if the Titans consistently play like like they did yesterday on defense, then this team is going to be a really special one when the 2021 season is all set and done.
I’m sure there were plenty of notions last season that described the 2020 Titans as a team with only one functioning engine out of three possible ones. The offense carried this team, despite the defense failing to pass as one full of professionals at times and special teams killing the team week after week no matter how many changes were made. If that team just got a smidge of contribution from the other two phases of the game that killed them so much, they probably beat Baltimore, give Buffalo a run for their money at the least, and potentially push Kansas City like some were predicting they’d do.
I think the 2021 Titans are in a similar spot.
You have the same record setting offense back, albeit with some injury and coordinator concerns, and the unit itself is now starting to find a bit of rhythm after last week’s debacle.
If you combine that with a defense that looked good yesterday, and some additional security in special teams, there’s no telling how high this team can go.
Consistency will play a big part in all of this coming together, and even that’s hard to acquire for all three phases, let alone two at the same time. However, if things continue to develop at the pace it’s going, then there’s no doubt acquiring said consistency will eventually come to be success.
Like I said before, it’s only week two and things can change rapidly at the drop of a hat.
However, if the glimpse we saw yesterday can become the norm moving forward, then this season might be an extra extravagant one for the Tennessee Titans.