This isn’t suppose to be a year in review, because the season isn’t over but… playoff chances are all gone.
The expectations for the Tennessee Titans grew far too high this season as fans were exposed to new success that they weren’t typically used to seeing. This season, I saw two different football teams, two different franchises that held their own against the juggernauts of the NFL. I watched a Titans team beat the Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs and (at the time) the
defending reigning World Champion Denver Broncos. But then I also saw a team that gave up losses amongst the less feared opponents of the NFL such as the Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers, two losses against the Colts and a playoff-hope-crushing loss against a struggling Jacksonville Jaguar team who just fired their head coach and was being led by Doug Marrone. We barely scraped by the Chicago Bears and almost gave up another loss to the struggling Browns.
As the season progressed the talks of winning the AFC South became more realistic, The Texans began to struggle, the Colts were slowly falling out of the picture and the Titans were starting to look like a formidable team. After the Week 13 Bye, the goal was clear for the team, win 4 and you get in. I watched on in Nashville from Nissan Stadium as the Broncos fell to a great defensive stand. Then, I watched as the Titans marched into Arrowhead stadium in the coldest game in franchise history and beat the chiefs.
But the Jags? That was supposed to be the throwaway game, this team had been struggling all season. But let’s not discredit this Jacksonville Jaguars team that has playmakers on both sides of the ball. But, to see Blake Bortles…yeah, Blake Bortles dissect this defense, pass after pass, was purely disheartening. It ended up being a trap game, and they fell right into it. And to add insult… to… well just to add the insult, our franchise quarterback suffered a season-ending injury. Which resulted in the fan next to me crying uncontrollably for 10 minutes. While murmurings in Titan Nation began if Marcus is an “injury prone” player. Jon Robinson improved the offensive, and put weapons around Mariota and after the fibula surgery I predict next season, Marcus will be in the conversation for a MVP candidate.
Robinson made changes in the off-season to produce a team on the field that would be able to compete against not only the AFC South, but with teams all over the league. In his first year, he was able to get DeMarco Murray for practically a fridge, draft Derrick Henry, and reel in free agent acquisitions such as Ben Jones and Rishard Matthews. But the two areas that hurt the Titans the most was the secondary and the receiving core. Injuries hurt the Titans along with inconsistent play prevented this team from becoming the force Titans fans know they could be. Passing defense became a weak point of the Dick LeBeau defense and I believe Jon Robinson will look to make some acquisitions and draft picks this offseason that will help bolster this roster.
The passing game is also a point of emphasis Robinson should consider this off-season. For the most part the Titans offensive line which included Pro Bowl Tackle Taylor Lewan, kept Marcus Mariota upright for most of the season. Which is a huge improvement considering last season he missed four games due to vicious hits he was taking. Rishard Matthews proved to be a great addition to a Titans receiving core that didn’t produce much in years past.
Most Titans fan had a little bit too much of the Two-tone blue kool-aid this season (myself included).Yet, I wouldn’t consider the Titans seasons to be a complete failure. After seeing five wins in two seasons, it was refreshing to see the Titans play for more than a draft pick. It is easy to be upset with the on-field record but improvement seems to be an upward trend for this franchise.