Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
The Tennessee Titans laid an egg in heartbreaking fashion, once again, in Week 15 against the Arizona Cardinals. The Titans have held a lead in most of their games this season, yet have lost nine of them. The Week 15 loss took Titans fans on a whole new roller coaster with a comeback to take the game to overtime just to throw the game away in the first drive (literally).
Despite being eliminated from the playoffs, the Titans still need to fight to win the last two games of the season. The Titans head to Jacksonville this week to avenge their embarrassing loss to the then-winless Jaguars. If the Titans want to finish the season with at least six wins, these guys are going to have to play at their best football.
Ryan Fitzpatrick – Quarterback
I used to believe that if the players that surround Ryan Fitzpatrick play well, yet he didn’t, the Titans could still win. The former Buffalo Bills quarterback proved me wrong on Sunday night against the Cardinals. The receivers played some good football this Sunday. After throwing a 4th Quarter pick-six to put the Titans down 34-17, the Harvard grad channeled “Fitzmagic” and scored 17 unanswered points in the last 6 minutes of the game. Great! Overtime, tied at 34. Enter “Fitztragic.” What does he do? Throw a pick in the first drive after getting pressured. Cardinals move and kick a field goal. Titans are out of the playoffs at 5-9.
If the Titans want to win another game this season, Fitzpatrick is going to have to play some good football. That doesn’t mean three good quarters. It means a whole game. Fitzpatrick turns bad at the worst time possible. If Fitzpatrick can go without turning over the ball, the Titans will have a good chance to win this game.
Chance Warmack – Offensive Guard
The rookie out of the University of Alabama has struggled in his first season. His run blocking has been acceptable, but his pass blocking has been concerning. Ryan Fitzpatrick needs a clean pocket, and Chris Johnson needs wide-open holes. If Warmack can block very well against Jacksonville, CJ will run well, which will take some pressure off of Fitzpatrick, thus reducing the opportunities for him to throw away a win, and he will have a stronger and more comfortable pocket.
Zach Brown – Outside Linebacker
Zach Brown was amazing as a rookie. He did pretty well in the first few weeks of 2013. Now he is absent. After some poor play early against Arizona, Brown was benched. Coach Mike Munchak claims that Brown’s poor play is why he was benched early on for rookie Zavier Gooden who has struggled as a replacement. Brown is a game-changer when he plays at his best. If he can do that early on, it will give the Titans good momentum, and it will solidify him as the team’s starting linebacker.
Alterraun Verner – Cornerback
Verner started the season hot, and was leading the league as the top corner. He dominated receivers and was a nightmare for quarterbacks. He’s racked up five INTs thus far in the season; however, he has not performed near as well in the past few weeks. Now he faces Chad Henne’s Jaguars. That’s not an impossible task. Verner will need to stop dropping the interceptions that he has done recently so that the Titans can get the turnovers that they’ve been failing to compile over the past few weeks. If Verner can’t make a play like he did early in the season, the team is not likely going to do well.
The Titans have struggled. They are out of the playoffs, but these players and coaches are playing for their jobs right now, as new owner Tommy Smith has said that the organization will evaluate all of them after Week 17. Munchak is on the hot seat and needs to win out if he wants to have a chance to keep his job with the Tennessee Titans in 2014.