This is a difficult article to write. I don’t want to discount the excitement that comes after a 26-22 comeback win over the Jets, keeping the Titans’ sliver of playoff hopes alive. Nor so I want to allow myself to get too excited over a 26-22 comeback win over the f****** Jets, keeping the Titans’ sliver of playoff hopes alive.
Maybe I’m already too fed up, apathetic and crotchety. But if there ever was a game that could sum up this Titans team in 60 minutes, it was this one. All of its storylines should ring a bell if you’ve been paying attention. The defense kept the Jets out of the end zone for the entire game, bailing out a mostly inefficient offense led by a mostly confused Matt LeFleur. Running the ball was a struggle, but so was pass blocking. Marcus Mariota wasn’t that good, until he was. Does any of this sound familiar?
Yet, in perhaps typical Titans form, the team showed the same resiliency that has helped them claw their way to two 9-7 records the past couple seasons and keep them alive in the log-jammed AFC playoff hunt. Never mind the weak adversary, as this team has yet to truly learn how to win and not play to the level of their opponent, solace should be taken in the fact that the Titans were able to come back from a 16-point deficit with their backs against the wall and flash the type of complementary football that has allowed them to hang with – and defeat – some of the league’s best teams.
But here I am, trying to decipher what to make from the good, bad and ugly that we witnessed on Sunday. It could be the type of game where the collective lightbulb finally goes off throughout the locker room, as both players and coaches alike need to realize that they can no longer afford showing up unprepared and having “off” games against weak teams. It’s also the type of game, however, that highlights significant reasons for concern moving forward. As we head into our Week 14 primetime match-up against the Jaguars tonight, it’s evident that this team still lacks a clear offensive identity and is trying to be something it’s not. We’re a team who wants to run the ball but can’t, and a team who can pass the ball but won’t. New coaching staff aside, this is a difficult predicament to find yourself in heading into the final month of the season, and one that shouldn’t exactly fill you with optimism.
We have four games, all of equal importance, remaining on the schedule. Like I said before, I’m fed up, apathetic and crotchety. I don’t think we will win these next four games and likely snag that final playoff spot. I think we could or even should win the next four games, but it would take Vrabel & Co., Matt LeFleur especially, to come to grips with what works for this team and what doesn’t.
As they reviewed the Jets film, they got a front row seat to the multiple personalities that this Titans team has. They saw incompetency, poor execution, athleticism and explosion all in 60 minutes. Too often this season have coaching decisions underlined the former two things over the latter, playing a large part in the team currently finding themselves at 6-6. If the Titans were to run the table, it’ll be up to our coaches to finally implement the offensive blueprint needed to win games, one that’s been jumping up and down, waving for attention on film all season, and for the players to continue sticking together the way they did this past week against the Jets. One is more likely than the other, but tonight’s divisional game against Jacksonville needs to be a step in the right direction to give this team confidence that they could end the year on a 5-game winning streak.