The NFL preseason can be a dangerous time for every team. The Tennessee Titans are no exception. Sure, teams run the risk of losing key players to gruesome season-ending injuries. But that’s not what I’m referring to.
I’d like to take you on a brief journey. Imagine: the date is Wednesday, August 7th. The Titans open the preseason tomorrow, hosting the Washington Redskins.
The media boasts about the success of the Titans offseason, while at the same time struggles to resist daily reports about how good the upgraded offensive line will be. Reports state that Kenny Britt looks like his 2011-self. That the offense is ready to take advantage of Jake Locker’s dynamic skillset. That Dowell Loggains will run plays out of the pistol. That the read-option will be heavily utilized.
Gregg Williams has returned to town and he is here to overhaul the league’s worst defense, transforming it into an aggressive, hard-hitting unit. Tommie Campbell has finally turned the corner and is ready to be a contributor in the secondary. Bernard Pollard is the vocal leader that’s been missing from the defense. The defensive line is bigger, faster and will dominate against the run with the additions of such players as Sammie Lee Hill and Ropati Pitoitua.
The fan base hasn’t been this optimistic in years. Hopes are high that this season, finally, will be the season the Titans return to the glory days of playoff football. Locker is ready to prove he can be our franchise quarterback,and Mike Munchak is eager to bring long-awaited joy to the Titans fan base.
Flash forward to now, two preseason games in, and that hopeful optimism seems like a distant memory, replaced by frustration and a strong desire for change. It seems all the rumors of an upgraded defense were just that—rumors.
The receiving corps has been plagued by incessant, drive-killing drops. Locker has attempted all of two passes that have traveled further than 10 yards in the air. The offense has run zero plays out of the pistol.
The defense looks just as bad as it did last year, maybe even worse. Campbell can cover about as well as a birthday suit. Pollard can’t tackle in space.
These are the dangers of the NFL Preseason I was referring to. Spectators fall into the trap of analyzing the vanilla playcalling. Overreactions spew forth from both the media and the fans: based on two preseason games, it has become clear that this team is not as good as everyone had hoped.
But hope springs eternal. Because despite all of this, one mantra rings true: its just preseason.
And this is something fans can hold on to until the September 8th opener. Because while it may seem like the Titans are doomed to another miserably disappointing year, I implore you all to remember: its just preseason.
Why does it matter that it’s just preseason? The coaching staff is less concerned with innovative play-calling and sack totals than they are with who is going to start at center. They are trying to decide whether this roster should include a fullback or a fourth tight end.
All the expectations that evaporated after seeing the first two preseason games may be gone forever. However, those expectations were a truer representation of this Tennessee Titans team than they’ve shown in these first two preseason games.
The dangers of the preseason reach beyond the risk of injuries. The positivity felt by the die-hard fans has been sapped by poor performances and questionable play-calling on both sides of the ball. These dangers touch the fans and the media in the form of overreaction, disappointment, and frustration, as they give up on their team before the season even starts.