As the glamour and excitement from free agency and the draft have begun to wear off, Titans fans have officially reached the dog days of the off-season. While OTA's have started up, not much news will break. When that ends in a few weeks, we will be anxiously awaiting the beginning of another season. In the meantime, we, as a community, can find different activities to keep ourselves occupied during this waiting period. Without further ado, I introduce our first Throwback Thursday. Today, we will look at the Titans matchup with the Redskins in November of 2010, and the events that followed:
Context: There was an odd vibe around this team going into the game. Taking it way back to before the 2010 season even started, we saw Vince Young continuing to make irresponsible decisions, by getting involved in a fight at a strip club after someone flashed an upside-down "Hook 'Em Horns" sign. However, Titans fans were convinced that Young had finally matured. After week 1 of the season, the momentum continued to build. He had a fantastic season opener in a throttling of the Raiders, and Titans fans believed that he had picked up right where he left off. However, the "odd vibe" around Vince Young and the 2010 Titans began the following week. In what Titans fans thought was a guaranteed win against the Dennis Dixon-led Steelers, Young was benched after making a number of mistakes. It brought back up old memories that fans believed were buried. That being said, Young and the team bounced back nicely, winning 4 of their next 5 games. However, after a collapse against the Chargers, who the Titans could never beat, and a bye week, the wheels really started to come off. The Titans lost to the Tyler Thigpen-led and mainly wildcat-led Dolphins, in a game where Young came off the bench, due to injury. The only problem was, he looked completely healthy when he came off of the bench. Afterwards, questions about his toughness began to come up. When faced with the questions, Young walked off of the podium, which led to an altercation between two Titans media members. The circus was full throttle at that point. The following game, everything reached full crescendo, as Vince Young went through his final meltdown.
The Main Event: This was a very weird game, which perfectly tied in with the weird vibe that the team had around it all season long. In hindsight, just the fact that the Titans were facing the Donovan McNabb-led Redskins is weird itself. Nonetheless, the Titans could not do much on offense. The only touchdown was thanks to a Marc Mariani punt return. Midway through the game, Titans fans began to "boo" Vince Young and the offense, and he responded in a fashion that only he would--by waving and taunting the fans, sarcastically encouraging them to continue booing. Later on, a play that will go down in Titans infamy occurred. Young hit Nate Washington on a deep pass, but jammed his thumb on his throwing hand on a helmet, causing him to exit the game. Due to a Kerry Collins injury, Rusty Smith had to enter the game. Despite Young wanting to re-enter the game, he never made a serious attempt to get back out on the field, tying in with questions from the week before after the Miami game. As the game continued, more strangeness took place. Rusty Smith threw a beautiful touchdown pass to Randy Moss, only it was called back due to pass interference. Redskins kicker Graham Gano missed a 47 yard field goal short, which rarely happens in the NFL, sending the game to overtime. He redeemed himself by making the game-winner. After the loss, Vince Young began his final meltdown, starting with the throwing of his shoulder pads into the stands. Next, the Titans were gathered in the locker room. While Jeff Fisher was giving his post-game speech, Young was constantly muttering words under his breath before beginning to walk out of the locker room early. As he did this, Jeff Fisher told Young not to walk out on his teammates, in which he replied something to the effect of, "I'm not walking out on my teammates, I'm walking out on you." As he stormed out, he had to be chased down by Michael Griffin. It was clear after the moment that Young had just squandered his final chance with the Titans.
Significance: This day in November was the beginning of a complete change in trajectory for this franchise. After that game, the Titans lost all but 1 more game that season. The following week, the late and great Mike Heimerdinger was diagnosed with cancer. Also, Rusty Smith threw 3 interceptions in a thrashing against the Texans, and Cortland Finnegan was beat down in a fight against Andre Johnson, in a very embarrassing day for the franchise. Vince Young tried to apologize to Jeff Fisher over text message, which was all but denied, as Fisher said that "face-to-face is a man thing." He was eventually asked to leave the facility and not to come back. After the season, Vince Young was released, and Jeff Fisher was scheduled to stay on for his final, contract or "lame duck" season. However, late in January, after the NFL coaching cycle was just about complete, Jeff Fisher and the Titans decided to "part ways". This forced the Titans to promote Mike Munchak, who was in over his head. They could only hire low-end coordinators, like Chris Palmer and Jerry Gray. During the Munchak stint, Bud Adams, the biggest supporter of Young, Fisher, and Munchak, passed away. This was the beginning of the franchise's major regression. Tommy Smith took over as an owner, and was a disaster. Jake Locker took over for Vince Young, and was a disaster. The team is still looking for a coach that can replicate Fisher's success, and the stability from an ownership standpoint that Bud Adams brought. The team has not yet recovered from that fateful afternoon in 2010.
Media: Highlights from the Game
This was a wild Time to be a Titans fan. Personally, I remember being fed up with Young after the game, before knowing about this at all. After that, it seemed like things completely blew up. The next week was extremely rough as a fan. It really seems like the team truly hasn't recovered from this day. The team was not too bad before everything went down. They were the best team in the NFL just 2 years before, and were arguably the hottest team in the NFL by the end of the 2009 season, with the offensive player of the year. Also, at the beginning of the 2010 season, they were looking like a playoff contender until everything fell apart. That year, the team won 3 games in a row, which believe it or not, is tied for the longest winning streak by the team in the last 5 years. This was definitely a rough time to be a Titans fan, and it set off a serious snowball effect that we do not know whether or not is still in progress.