What is there to say about this one? Once again, after coming up with a massive win over a great team, the Titans came up small against a division opponent.
2018: Titans beat Patriots 34-10, turn around and lose to the Colts 38-10.
It’s a rather disturbing pattern that shows the Titans for what they are. They’re both capable of playing with the best teams in the league any given week and capable of completely listless performances in games that they should be competitive in. It’s what the Titans are at this point. The NFL’s ultimate Jekyll and Hyde team, capable to thumping the best or getting thumped by the worst on a week to week basis. It’s hard to say they’re any more or less than that without a sustained run suggesting otherwise at this point. With that, let’s get to winners and losers from the game.
None. The Titans struggled in all three phases of the game, looking nothing like the team that dominated the Patriots in Week 10.
A week after dominating Josh Gordon, Jackson was roasted repeatedly by Colts star T.Y. Hilton, including a 68-yard bomb that set the tone for a lopsided game early. Hilton finished with 9 catches on 9 targets for 155 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jackson has been excellent for the most part in 2018, but he will want to forget about this game.
The Titans quarterback struggled throughout the first half, throwing a terrible interception when he failed to see a sagging corner in Cover 2. Mariota often appeared confused by the Colts coverage and was not able to take advantage of a secondary that was missing their best pass defender.
Making matters infinitely worse was Mariota going down with an injury just before the half. After being sacked for the 4th time, he appeared to be flexing his throwing hand. He would not return to the game despite lobbying Vrabel on the sideline and the obvious worry is that it was an aggravation of the nerve injury that cost him a start earlier this season.
Without Mariota this team is going nowhere. That much is clear after seeing Blaine Gabbert’s effort in the second half. If Mariota can’t go on Monday Night Football against the Texans, the season is effectively over. Get well soon, Marcus.
The entire offensive line
The Titans gave up 5 sacks, got their starting quarterback hurt, and averaged just 3.5 yards per carry on the ground against a Colts defense that is mediocre at best and missing one of their most talented players. It was a shameful performance from a group that was healthy and seemingly trending in the right direction coming in to this one.
The pass rush
I get that the Colts have now gone 5 straight games without allowing a sack, but the Titans pass rush that was so dominant against New England was a non-factor against Indianapolis. Andrew Luck had all day to throw against the Titans and he made them pay consistently. Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan have disappeared this season.
Fair or unfair, it certainly appears that the Titans are failing to handle success under their new head coach. Their two biggest wins of the year have both been followed by complete no-shows. That’s at least partially on coaching. Great teams are great week after week, regardless of opponent. The Titans clearly aren’t there yet and there is a really good chance they aren’t getting there this season. That doesn’t mean that Vrabel is a failure as a head coach, but it does show that he has a ways to go.
The Titans now face a must win game in Houston on Monday night. A win would put them right back in the race for the AFC South crown. A loss would leave them beginning to look towards 2019. We will see how they respond.
I would also like to take a quick moment to wish Dean Pees well. He is staying in the hospital overnight after being forced to miss the game for a medical emergency. Obviously his well being is far more important than any football game. Hoping for a speedy and full recovery for whatever ails the Titans defensive coordinator.