0-6. Calling for the head of many in the coaching staff, and pleads of a quarterback swap from the fans, the Tennessee Titans were left for dead. The worst loss in franchise history, dubbed the Boston Massacre, raised questions of the team's commitment. Coming off of a 13-3 season in which so much was expected in the upcoming season, even legitimate Super Bowl hopes, the team seemed lost and out of control. The franchise seemed doomed and it had hit rock bottom. "I would have to say it is [rock bottom], 59-0 and 0-6, that’s what it is," Chris Johnson said "There isn’t anything else you can say." Coach Fisher going to a charity event wearing the jersey of one of his team's most hated rival was just the icing on the cake. At that point, it really seemed the entire organization was done for the year.
But, at rock bottom, the only place you can go is up. "By the sixth game of the season, we are past last year’s 10-0 and we were trying to figure that out after 0-2. Right now we are in a situation that we put ourselves in, and as men, I think this bye week will be good for some people. We can get away and get healthy," said former Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck after the Patriots game, "As men we will have to come back and understand what we have to do. The season is not over, there are 10 games left, and I plan to play ten games all out." RB Chris Johnson vowed that the team would win it's next ten games on national radio, to the tone of laughter from the national public, but after the Titans rolled off 6 straight wins, no one was laughing anymore. The Titans came back after a bye week, with a new quarterback at the helm and blew the league away with their one-two tandem of Vince Young and Chris Johnson, which seemed unstoppable.
Fast forward 365 days from that snowy day in New England to today. Following that infamous 59-0 beating, the Titans rebounded, going 12-4 in their next 16 games. Last night the Tennessee Titans laid a 30-3 beating on the Jacksonville Jaguars, without their starting quarterback, to move to 4-2, and the top of the AFC South.
This group of receivers is the best the Titans have had in a long time, and this defense is light years better than last year's sieve, which allowed over 600 yards to Tom Brady and the Patriots offense, which set numerous NFL records that day. With a league leading
23 24 sacks, the Titans have arguably the best defensive line in the game this season, and have knocked multiple quarterbacks out of the game.
Special teams is actually special this year, in large parts to seventh round rookie Marc Mariani, who already has a touchdown and gives the Titans an opportunity of great field position every time he gets the ball. Adding to Mariani, rookie Alterraun Verner, with two interceptions in three starts (or maybe that's just MCM Karma), and Damian Williams, who had a great game in his first game of extended action yesterday, rounds out a rookie class which has had the most immediate impact of any recent class that comes to memory, and that's not even including DE Derrick Morgan, who was placed on injured reserve after getting two sacks in four games. After an offseason of quietness, in which fans begged for a notable acquisition, under the radar players signed have made great impacts. Linebacker Will Witherspoon and defensive end Jason Babin have been the most notable, with both already beginning unexpected career seasons.
The team has heart and pride. You can see it in their faces, and you can see it in their demeanor. This team is having fun, and winning on the way. The 2010 Tennessee Titans win by teamwork. If the offense isn't having a very good day, the defense can bail them out with a couple of sacks, or Mariani can flip the field for some easy points, and if the defense is having an off day, Vince Young can throw a deep ball to Nate Washington and keep the team rolling. The national media is saying that this is a top ten team in the league. 4-2 is a heck of a lot better than 0-6, wouldn't you say?
It's interesting to think what would have happened if the Titans had won against New England that snowy October day. Would Kerry Collins still be starting at quarterback? Last year's 0-6 start may be the best thing that ever happened to this team. They no longer take a win for granted. "Maybe we all needed a wakeup call," said tight end Bo Scaife. "After a game like that where you get beat so bad, we definitely found out the things we need to do and the things we don't need to do."
This Titans team is something to be proud of. It's a good day to be a Titans fan. How far this team goes will be interesting to see.