Spirit fingers. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Yesterday was a day filled with anger. There is absolutely no reason for a team that is fighting for the playoffs to come out and look like the team that didn't have anything to play for against an 0-13 team. Everyone has been asking who to blame for that. Is Mike Munchak the one to blame? Is Chris Palmer the one to blame? Are the players who should be blamed? Of course the answer is yes. That loss goes on everyone who gets a paycheck from Bud Adams.
We need to take a step back though and realize what this team actually is. We have gotten all caught up in the chase for the playoffs and forgotten that this team is just a mediocre team. Does that excuse the fact that on multiple occasions this season they have come out flat like they did yesterday? No, but let's also not act like this is the 1985 Bears that lost to an 0-13 team.
I really hope Mike Reinfeldt is being honest with himself about what this team is. Sure, at the end of the season they are more than likely going to be a team that missed the playoffs by a game or two, but that does not mean they are close to being a legitimate contender. There are still a lot of holes that need to be filled.
There are also a lot of guys that don't need to be here next year. Last week Cortland Finnegan jumped at the opportunity to call this his last year with the Titans. There has been a lot of talk about possibly franchising him if they cannot reach a long-term deal. I say they do neither. Look at guys like Drew Brees and Ray Rice. They are playing in the last year of their respective contracts, and when they get asked about it they say they are just concerned with winning right now and that the contract stuff will take care of itself in the offseason. That is what a leader says.
Finnegan tries to be a leader, but he isn't. A leader leads always, not just when it is easy or when things are going well. It was great that he organized the workouts during the lockout, but that didn't mean a hill of beans when he jumped ship during camp or is complaining about his contract during a playoff run.
I am being too hard on Finnegan here, I realize that, but it is time to get guys in here that care more about the good of the team than their contracts. The same things could be said for Chris Johnson.
Frank Wycheck said on the radio this morning that Eddie George or Steve McNair would have jumped all over a guy for saying what Finnegan said last week. Where are those guys on the Titans now? I do think that Colin McCarthy will develop into that guy, but right now there is absolutely no one the defensive side of the ball that will stand up and be leader. The Titans need to make sure they identify a veteran player at safety or on the defensive line that can come in and do it.
Yes, Mike, that means you have to sign a free agent. I agree that building through the draft is the best way to build a team that is competitive for the long term, but the teams that are good at that also add a key free agent when they have a need. The Titans cannot be afraid to do that.
Obviously there will be plenty of time in the coming weeks and months to talk about an offseason plan, but the point of this rambling post is that this team still has a long way to go before being a legitimate contender. That loss yesterday should serve as an embarrassing reminder of that.