Burn it down. The Titans have little choice at this point, in my mind. Now before we move on, reader should first understand that I am generally conservative in my feelings toward the coaching staff and players that make up this team we all fervently follow. I abhor knee-jerk reactions that we seem to see more and more throughout the NFL, and think making drastic changes after less than a season is a stairway that spirals ever-downward.
But enough is enough.
On offense, the team has stagnated despite an arguably improved set of skill players the Titans disposal. The offensive line has been pathetic (more on this below), with the most expensive of the group (Andy Levitre) playing appalling football for over a season now. Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker are the only bright spots on the entire offensive side of the ball at present, and even the former has been ill-used for much of the season, with the staff trotting what-could-be Justin Hunter onto the field to dazzle us with an endless parade of poor routes and dropped passes. Jake Locker can be thrown on the heap of Titan QB failures, and Zach Mettenberger gets his shot to lead the firestorm that is the Tennessee Titans, in unsure coaching hands, no less.
The "offensive guru" behind yet the latest of many schemes, Ken Whisenhunt, displays a galling disconnect with the game and his roster. The cliché of the square peg and the round hole sounds familiar by now doesn't it? While I hate to utilize that here, it has to be mentioned. The ground game is abandoned almost immediately every single week, and it never gets out of the starting blocks with a paper-mache offensive line. It is almost as if the Titans shouldn't have bothered taking Bishop Sankey at all. His skills haven't been used properly, and thus his impact on the team's fortunes in 2014 has been zilch. Zach Mettenberger has been set up to fail, with no supporting cast to lean on, much like Jake Locker before him (who by the way, just confirmed his rightful place on the bench in his comical relief effort today).
On defense, Titans fans were hoodwinked into believing new DC Ray Horton could turn things around. That fallacy seems closer to insanity than reality after what has been put on display this year. Today's nightmare against the Houston Texans is but the cherry on top; an effort in which Ryan Fitzpatrick played god and enacted a curse of raining touchdowns upon his former team, seemingly at will. I watched all six in stunned horror. Who cares if you can pass rush once in a while if the squad can't display the basics of NFL defense. Couple these struggles with the sobering fact that the team has also shown a fundamental lacking in the ability to play the run all season, and has fielded yet another inept secondary that will never succeed, regardless of what happens in front of them, and you have a club with no hope and no future.
Now we get to the monster behind it all, a front office that seems incapable of striking the right tune in NFL free agency and the lottery-like system that we call the NFL draft. Firstly, we must address the awful roster management at present. Shortly following a game in which the starting OLB, Kamerion Wimbley (FA miss) is ruled out with an injury, the team releases his primary rotation mate in Shaun Phillips (yet another FA miss), leaving never-used Quentin Groves to start in their places. With no depth (since the team decided it best to trade Akeem Ayers for nothing in return earlier in the year) and a lack of quality at the spot, it is hardly a surprise that the Texans ran all over the team in yet another dreadful performance. The best player by far has been rookie Avery Williamson. I shudder to think where the team would be if they hadn't taken him in last summer's draft. Though honestly, could it be much worse?
Outside of last year's draft, the front office has also graced the team with little talent in the past few years, and their record in free agency has only declined with time. Bringing Michael Oher to Tennessee was a bad joke, but even me, among the biggest critics of the move, couldn't imagine just how bad it would be. Next to him, Chance Warmack looks more like career backup Chris Spencer than he does top-10 draft choice, "anchor of the line for a decade". The quote in itself is laughable. Wreh-Wilson was not ready to start at corner, and Michale Griffin is somehow still wearing two toned blue after years of failure. Dexter McCluster has been little used, Wesley Woodyard is a poor scheme fit (for the role he was initially asked to play), and mounting injuries have revealed just how poorly prepared this roster is to compete in a 16-game NFL season.
While I promised myself I would be patient with the new staff, the new systems, the young talent, I find myself incredulous at the current state of this team. It was a general understanding that the implementation of these systems would take time, that it would be a work in progress before the fruits of investment were made clear. But who could have thought that the team would look this bad while in that transition phase? It's laughable. From the second game of the season up till today, they have been rudderless. Lackluster. Hopeless. And worse still, the conditioned fans expect it at this point. Like myself, they "expected" the Titans to blow a 28 point lead to Cleveland, they "expected" to give up six touchdowns to backup material Fitzpatrick...it goes on and on.
This team is farther from contention that it was with Munchak running the show, and that is saying something. Regardless of the positive vibes from this rookie class, the roster needs to be completely overhauled from top to bottom. But who do you trust to do that roster-building when the current men in charge have produced this gem of an NFL squad? At this point, I feel just as negatively about the players as I do the staff. Constantly hiring new guys is a recipe for failure in the NFL, but you can't go out an make a 7-9 2013 roster look this bad, without consequences, in a league where everyone and their mother talks about how fast a team can turn it around.... It's going to take a long time to erase the errors of this group, whose theories and plans always amount to nothing. Fire Whisenhunt, fire Webster. Do whatever you have to to to breathe life back into this franchise that we all hate to love.
Do something, anything. Burn it down.