To paraphrase Dennis Green: They are who we thought they were.
The Titans showed on Sunday in San Diego what they have shown us all season long. An inconsistent offense with inconsistent quarterback play, and a defense that played well enough to keep that offense in the game. I am not sure what happened to the secondary in the 2nd half, but they are not the reason the Titans lost. Cortland Finnegan stood accountable for his play after the game:
"I guess pride comes before a fall and when you get high on yourself and you think you're doing something, God's got a funny way of showing you. So I think that was it for me."
Finnegan became one of my favorite players as the season went along, and the fact that he took responsibility for his part makes me respect him that much more. Finnegan had a great season, and his interception in the first half was a really good play. It is unforunate that his only bad game of the season came in the playoffs. He seems like the type of guy that will use this to motivate his offseason preparation and will come back an even better player in 2008.
The other problem with the defense was the fact that they could not get any pressure on Philip Rivers. They were only able to sack Rivers once, and that was on a corner blitz by Finnegan. Part of that was because the Chargers used a lot of max protect, especially once Antonio Gates went out of the game. That is what makes the play of the secondary that much more mind-boggling. Rivers had all day to throw, and the Chargers receivers were wide open all day. Chris Chambers had 6 catches for 120 yards, and Vincent Jackson had 5 catches for 114 yards and a touchdown.
The Titans did a better job than any of us could have hoped for on LaDainian Tomlinson. LT carried 21 times for just 42 yards. If you would have told me before the game that those would be his numbers, I would have predicted the chances of a Titans win at 90%.
The Titans offense looked like they have all year. The problem with the Titans' offense is that there is basically no room for error. Jeff Fisher said after the game you overcome mistakes by making plays. When you don't have playmakers mistakes cannot be overcome, so when Chris Brown fumbles at the San Diego 12 or when Rob Bironas misses a 38 yard field goal, the team just can't recover. I don't know about everyone else, but I never had the feeling the Titans were going to score a touchdown in this game.
Vince Young played like he has all year. He only carried the ball twice when it seemed like there were a lot of opportunities for him to take off. He made some nice throws and some bad throws. There were times where it didn't appear he and his receivers were on the same page.
It is fair to say at this point that Vince regressed in his second season. There were a lot of contributing factors to that regression. I think he was more hurt than the Titans let on for most of the season. That is part of the reason he didn't run as much. It appeared that he was trying to prove that he can be a pocket passer. That is not who he is and not the reason the Titans took him with the #3 pick. It also appears that he and Norm Chow were not on the same page this season. I don't know who's fault that is, but hopefully before Fisher, Chow and Vince go their separate ways for the offseason, they will sit down and hammer some things out (assuming that Chow will be here next season).
Look, as disappointing as this loss is, this season should be judged as nothing less than a success. Would we have like to see them play on? Of course, but virtually no one gave them a shot to make the playoffs. This team, just 2 seasons removed from a salary cap blow up, made the playoffs, and they have more cap space for 2008 than any club in the league. It is a great time to be a Titans' fan.