The Tennessee Titans had me at a complete and total loss for words at the conclusion of their 2nd home game of the season against the visiting Cleveland Browns. I had the (dis)pleasure of sitting 4th row for this game. I went from being on cloud nine and even heckling my friend who was there with me – albeit in support of the Browns – to leaving completely devastated and mind-blown.
I don’t really know where to start. My thoughts are kind of all over the grid. I’m frustrated at everything. I’m frustrated at the players, coaches, referees, and even some fellow fans.
Last year people wanted then head coach Mike Munchak out because everyone said it was his fault. Now we have Ken Whisenhunt, who comes from legendary franchise in the Pittsburgh Steelers, and 5 games into the season people are calling for his head. Quite frankly, as long as a team is winning no one questions the players, coaches, and upper management. Unfortunately, our team is good at losing which makes the majority of fans question everything.
I was born in Cleveland and not a Browns “fan” but they were my home team and for most of their existence since the franchise returned in the late 90s they have been the laughing stock of the league due to the consistent losing and high coaching/QB turnover. I can honestly say as a Titans fan, we now know we are at an ALL-TIME low when games like this go in Browns favor.
We surrendered a 25-point lead. That is 100% inexcusable.
The Titans had an amazing first half. It’s very clear the Titans coaching staff went into half-time with the mindset of “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” and didn’t make any type of adjustments based off the Browns horrendous first half. In the other locker room, Browns’ first year head coach Mike Pettine and his staff made some excellent adjustments and capitalize on stupid mistakes made by the Titans. He and his staff truly deserve a round of applause and so does his team for executing.
The Titans made some great plays but they were negated by selfish, stupid penalties. A fumble recovery by the Titans on a punt to the Browns was nullified by a player who ran out of bounds and game back in the field of play to make a play. Then, a Jason McCourty interception returned to the Browns 1-yd line was negated by a personal foul.
The Titans gave away this game. Titans quarterback Jake Locker was heavily targeted by the Browns defense. Locker scored on a tuck-and-run play and as he slid into the end zone nearly had his head knocked off due to a dirty play. Locker’s day was ended early in the 2nd quarter when he re-aggravated his wrist/thumb injury. Backup QB Charlie Whitehurst came into the game and threw a great pass to WR Kendall Wright while in the red zone following Locker’s exit.
Less than one minute after Whitehurst connected with Wright, he threw a beautiful pass that caught WR Justin Hunter in stride which led to a 75-yard touchdown, and what should be an ESPN Top 10 play.
Right before half-time Browns’ QB Brian Hoyer threw a short scoring strike to TE Jim Dray to cut the half-time Titans’ lead to 18 with a score of 28-10.
After that, it was all Browns.
Fast forwarding to the final 5 minutes of the game, I thought the Titans ended the Browns’ fairytale comeback rally when S Michael Griffin intercepted Hoyer leaving 5:05 on the clock.
What followed that electrifying play by Griffin was probably the single worst display of clock management in the history of Titans football.
I’m not sure who will take blame whether it was Coach Whisenhunt or OC Jason Michael, but the play calling was deplorable. With a 6 point lead in the final minutes of the game the Titans opted to put the game in Whitehurst’s hands. When the majority of coaches would try to burn clock, our coaches opted to pass the ball. Not once. Not twice. But it was on the third straight pass on 3rd and 10 when Whitehurst connected with our early season MVP, TE Delanie Walker, for an 11 yard gain and fresh set of downs.
They followed up that awful series with a hand off to rookie RB Bishop Sankey for a -1 yard play. I do agree with the play call here to run the ball and get the clock burning. Next, they did an end-around play to Wright for a 5 yard gain. On third down they went to Walker, for a catch that he came up about 12 inches short for the first down. On fourth down the Titans opted for the QB sneak with Whitehurst who came up with a miserable effort and getting stuffed. Instead of handing it off to RB Shonn Greene, who seemed to be the obvious choice in this situation, the Titans turned it over on downs and after that the rest is history – literally. The Browns completed the miracle 25-point comeback on a pass from Hoyer to WR Travis Benjamin for a 29-28 victory. No need to go into detail about the Titans horrid one minute last ditch effort.
I don’t know who to blame. I don’t know if I’m mad the most at the coaching staff for the horrible second-half game plan or if I’m more mad at the players for being comfortable and surrendering a 25 point lead. This loss really hurt. I don’t know if it can get any worst. Well, maybe I shouldn’t say that considering we have the Jacksonville Jaguars coming to town next week.
I would really like to know what your thoughts are? I get frustrated when our team loses, but I’ve seen a lot of ugly remarks towards our team from our “fans”. You have a right to be mad, but if you’re Titan True you’ll stick through the struggles. Let’s remember Tommy Smith and Coach Whisenhunt inherited Bud Adams and Mike Munchak’s team. We expected, and should expect, the Titans to be a better team, but we have to give Whisenhunt time to implement his plan.
Lastly, I’ll end it with this sad, real thought. I really think this is truly Jake Locker’s farewell season. I always back him and say his injuries are due to bad luck, but unfortunately that excuse can’t work forever. To truly be a competitive team we need a consistent quarterback we can count on to be there. Bumps, bruises, and even broken bones are a part of the game, but for a quarterback they can’t define your game.
Hopefully we can #TitanUp by time the Jaguars come into town next Sunday.