And so the 2012 season comes to a merciful end.
When a 5 win team hosts a 2 win team at the end of the season, the only way they combine for over 50 points is by piling mistake upon mistake. That's exactly what happened today at LP Field as the Titans exacted a sliver of revenge against the Jaguars in a 38-20 spectacle.
Zach Brown was the star of the show, racking up 4 tackles, 1 sack and 2 INTs he returned for touchdowns. It was a brilliant capper to a two month run that's established Brown as a legitimate playmaker at the OLB position, and not just the contact-adverse track star many pegged him as in the draft. When Brown wasn't stealing the show, Darius Reynaud provided fireworks with two brilliant punt returns in a row for touchdowns. Add in a turnover-free day by the offense, and you've got a showing that will most likely keep Mike Munchak safe for a while.
Jake Locker righted the ship a little bit after a 6 weeks of disheartening struggles. Locker ended the game going 9/15 for 152 yards, but didn't make the big mistakes he's been making lately. For a guy who has thrown 9 INTs in just over a month, that's good enough to me. Sure, he was off-target on a few throws, but he was also victimized by an awful drop by Nate Washington on a beautifully thrown pass that should have been a 70+ yard touchdown.
The real story was the defense: beyond Brown's dominant play, Ayers, Morgan, Casey, Marks and Wimbley combined for 6 sacks. After being trucked throughout the first quarter, Jerry Gray made adjustments, primarily moving to a more aggressive man-to-man scheme, and it was all Titans from that point on. Jacksonville totaled 375 yards, but they also got 20 more snaps than we did because of all the defensive and special teams TDs.
Most importantly, we managed to prevent getting swept in the division. One win isn't much better, but going 0-6 in this group would have been beyond humiliating. Munchak and Matthews should also be commended for finding a way to get solid O-line play out of this ragtag group of reserves. Byron Stingily especially played much, much better than he did in Green Bay.
Bud still has a lot of big decisions to make: I don't see how he looks at this season a doesn't fire someone, but a big time hire to fill the empty hole at OC might be enough of a shake-up to assuage the old man. For my money, if you're going to keep Munch and Gray, go out and throw the bank at Norv Turner the minute he's fired in San Diego. Turner is the offensive version of Wade Phillips (mediocre-to-awful head coach, but a savant as a coordinator). That hire would excite the fanbase, and brining in the guy who has been scheming for Antonio Gates just might be enough of a change to convince Cook to resign.