On one hand, Titans’ fans everywhere should rejoice; the Two-Toned Blue will be playing January football for the first time in a long time. On the other hand, we may all need to contact Bosley as part of our New Year’s personal-improvement resolutions. As cliché as it sounds, whenever we are forced to mentally bury this 2017 Titans team, their tombstone will read: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ...”
In a game in which Tennessee’s defense held serve routinely against an inept Blake Bortles, the Titans’ offense routinely disappointed. If that was Mike Mularkey and Terry Robiskie’s best effort to save their jobs, the team’s front office almost assuredly should not retain them. Despite being someone who repeatedly pounded the table for stability earlier in the season, I can no longer ignore the feeling that Mularkey’s scheme has fallen and can’t get up. In the span of sixty minutes, the Titans successfully called/executed five offensive plays at most—and that number counts Marcus Mariota’s two superhuman efforts late in the fourth quarter. Somehow, they won the game.
Courtesy of the Ravens’ loss to the Bengals, the Titans will head to Kansas City next weekend to battle the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium. With the weather likely to be frigid again, perhaps Ryan Succop will have another opportunity to do his best Celine Dion impression. Honestly, a large part of me was looking forward to playing the Jaguars for a third time this season. With a substantial playoffs performance seemingly unlikely for this Titans squad, at least it would have been memorable if they had partied like it was 1999 all over again.
Adoration for Adoree
Adoree Jackson showed why he deserved to be a first-round draft pick in this game. Though he was universally considered technically raw coming into the pros, his punch-out forced fumble reiterated his knack for making great football plays. Despite his small stature, he is very physical with receivers and is quickly learning how to disrupt them as the ball is arriving, with proper timing in order to avoid pass-interference penalties. He is undoubtedly the Titans’ Rookie of the Year.
Dispair for Decker
Coming into Sunday, Eric Decker had been winning me over with his consistency during the Titans’ previous few games. Most of that “surplus” goodwill deteriorated as I watched him repeatedly drop catchable passes today. Without outstanding athleticism, he only serves as an asset to this offense if he can get open with savvy route running and catch the damn ball. While he was able to do the former, he simply could not accomplish the latter.
I am not sure whether I would offer up a contract extension to Decker if I were GM Jon Robinson. I won’t necessarily be irate if he returns next season, but I won’t be excited either.
Verification of Voids
No presumed items on Jon Robinson’s list of off-season “needs” were erased based on the Titans’ performance. The team needs more help at running back. Derrick Henry deserves a role within this offense, as evidenced by his 66-yard touchdown reception, but he is pretty clearly not a bell cow. Regardless of who is calling plays for the Titans next year, they need a back who can do more when running between the tackles. Henry should complement that player.
With respect to the fact that they were facing a very stout defense, the Titans’ interior OL did not impress enough to warrant being left unchanged through the 2018 free-agency period and draft. I suspect Mike will provide more insight into who needs to be replaced, but it is clear that between Quinton Spain, Ben Jones, and Josh Kline, at least one needs to move down the depth chart.
On defense, the Titans can definitely use another effective pass rusher. Brian Orakpo, Derrick Morgan, and Erik Walden should return, but they aren’t young players and should not be counted on to sustain their current level of play forever. As for the secondary, it is exponentially better than it was last year, but it can further improve with a continued influx of talent.