Well, that was soul crushing.
Despite nine (!) sacks, a timely Amani Hooker interception, and a transcendent AJ Brown reception, the Tennessee Titans were unable to successfully defend home field. What makes this year's playoff loss an especially tough pill to swallow for Titans fans is those watching saw a championship-level roster fail to rise to the occasion. We knew this could have been our year, so what happened?
Stop me if you've heard this line before: "Quarterbacks get too much credit for a win, and too much blame for a loss." Though typically an apt adage, this loss falls squarely on Ryan Tannehill. That fact is inarguable.
Tannehill set the tone by throwing an interception on the first play of the game. He followed up by throwing his second pick on his first pass in the second half (a bone-headed screen attempt to speedster Chester Rodgers.)
Despite these foibles, the Titans were able to fight back and tie the game going into the fourth quarter. Still tied with two minutes left and the ball, the Tennessee offense had the opportunity to write their own destiny: get into field goal range, and they would be on to the AFC Championship. Worst case scenario? The drive stalls and we play go to overtime. Advantage Titans.
As we all know, the one scenario every person in Nissan Stadium knew should be avoided at all costs, a Titans turnover, is exactly what came to pass. Tannehill tried to thread a needle to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, resulting in a devastating interception.
The third interception of the night proved to be one too many Tannehill mistakes for the rest of the team to overcome.
This is the third strait year that Tannehill has been subpar in post-season play. Last season, RT was only able to muster 165 passing yards and threw the interception that sealed a Baltimore upset. Two seasons ago, the Titans were able to steamroll to the AFC championship on the back of a dominant Derrick Henry postseason run. During that stretch, Tannehill barely broke over 200 yards passing in any of those games.
During this three year playoff stretch, we have seen this Titans team steadily grow. The question is, have they reached their ceiling with Tannehill at the helm? It is certainly a question to consider. If one looks at the state of the AFC, there are now three young, elite quarterbacks who look destined to battle it out for the conference crown for the next decade. As an organization, what types of moves can they make in Nashville to compete in the years to come? Without a top 10 quarterback of our own, do we have a real chance of reaching the mountaintop?
This should be a real question John Robinson and Mike Vrabel should consider in the coming months. Looking at this Titans roster, they have a talented, young defense. They finished in the top ten in overall and scoring defense. They were able be one of the best teams at getting to the quarterback, all while being a team with one of the lowest blitz percentages. On offense, they have AJ Brown and Derrick Henry, two players who should just now be sliding into the prime of their careers.
This fan wonders if this year, one where the top quarterbacks in the draft won't likely be chosen in the top 5, would be a good year to consider rolling the dice on some new blood, in the hopes that they strike gold by surrounding that young talent with an elite roster. It is a formula that has worked a few times this century, specifically with Russell Wilson in Seattle and Patrick Mahomes in KC.
Either way, the overall state of the roster should spark the imagination of Titans fans for years to come.
What do you think MCM? What should we do at QB in 2022?