Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off of your goal. What we have right now is a group of people who have taken their eyes off the goals of their favorite football team. Obviously, the ultimate goal is to reach the Super Bowl. I don't think any of us here on MCM are ready to crown the Titans yet, and that's a good thing, but there is just so much to be accomplished this year that this team absolutely cannot allow itself to be stopped because of one injury.
Before I go any further, I'd like to point out that as I'm writing this, Britt's injury hasn't been officially announced, so I'm saying there's a chance, but that's literally all I'm saying.
We've discussed at length the implications of a weakened division with the perennial powerhouse being lead by
our old pal Kerry Collins (WAIT NEVER MIND IT'S CURTIS PAINTER). Painter is surrounded by various inhabitants of the Island of Misfit Toys as part of his "supporting cast". The Jags are now in full on surrender mode as they have entered a new era of football by starting Blaine Gabbert. At this point, their season appears to be more a developmental year for some younger players at some key skill positions and, of course, for Gabbert. That leaves Houston. Given the Titans' track record against Houston and the Texans' propensity for choking, I wouldn't call it too much of a stretch to say that stealing a win from the boys in red is a real possibility.
There is so much to be gained this year from finishing strong and not falling into a tailspin at the end of the year. This is going to require the team to regroup after a serious injury to their best and most consistent player so far. We all saw what happened when Britt went down last year; the offense just never had the same rhythm it did when he was in. Now that we're sure that last year was no fluke, it's easy to see why. Matt Hasselbeck has the luxury of just chucking it up somewhere and feeling at least somewhat confident that his guy is going to come down with it for the first time in his career. Britt just has that impact on teams this year. He's been impossible to game plan for because teams still fear Chris Johnson (as they should.) more than they fear him.
Something that may give fans hope is the fact that Hasselbeck was able to spread the ball around to eleven different receivers today. That's nothing new either. Nine players caught passes against Baltimore and eight caught passes against Jacksonville. If anything, he's getting even more comfortable with all of his receivers which is an incredible luxury that I didn't think we'd have early on in the season from a new quarterback. Even though Hasselbeck has been great about getting the ball to all of his receivers, look now for Nate Washington to continue to step it up. He seems to have eliminated drops from his game which is a huge development. However, with Nate moving on over to be the number one, someone has to step up and fill the void that he leaves as the second option. I'm hoping that it's Damian Williams, but I feel my confidence in him wavering a little bit after some unsteadiness early on.
In any case, offensively things look a lot less exciting than they did early on in the season without Britt in the lineup, but here's hoping that someone can come in and at least do their job well enough to keep the passing game afloat.
Defensively speaking, has there been a more pleasant surprise all year? I mean, wow. This unit looks solid. I could definitely go for some more turnovers, but just when I was about to crown the linebackers as least impressive unit on the team, Will Witherspoon jumps in and saves the day with a game ending interception. Oh, this was also one play after he sacked Kyle Orton to set up a third and long. Talk about having a day. The secondary did their thing today and shut down the Bronco passing game. I was especially impressed with how Brandon Lloyd was manhandled all day long. The NFL's leading receiver from a year ago was held to four catches and 38 yards. A far cry from the mind-numbingly frustrating numbers he put up against basically the same unit last in last year's game.
The defense as a whole just played an incredible game. The Broncos ran two more plays than the Titans and ended up with almost 100 fewer yards. That's pretty impressive. And how about that goal-line stand there at the end? Amazing individual effort from Derrick Morgan on that one.
Today marked one of the ugliest wins ever, but still there are just so many positives to take away from it. This is the kind of stuff that marks Cinderella seasons. Bad teams lose these games. You may be thinking that really good teams would never have been in a game this close against the Broncos, but I digress, this was a heck of a win today from a team that never quit. I threw around the word "destiny" a lot in the game thread today near the end there, and now I'm starting to believe that this team may have it. Not this team in particular, I don't expect the 2011 Titans to make a lot of noise in the playoffs, but this organization has set itself up quite nicely to really do some damage down the road.
So don't look at Kenny Britt's injury as something that ends any chances of salvaging 2011, look at it as an opportunity to make people notice this team for what it is; a group of players who finally have the guidance they need to be successful, with or without their best player.