The Tennessee Titans had their worst performance of the season last Sunday, a 30-8 beatdown by the New York Jets. And if they are not careful, there will be more beatdowns to close the season.
Titans fans were irate following the meltdown in the Meadowlands, and it wasn’t the loss that tipped them over. The team had lost 21 of their last 25 games, and fans were still in full throat…encouraging Tennessee through an exciting fourth quarter of football two weeks ago.
It was the effort, or lack thereof, that had Nashville sports talk radio lines jammed all week.
If a person who knows nothing about football watched that Titans-Jets game, then they would have known in the first quarter which team was fighting for a playoff birth, and which team was just playing out the string.
Tennessee looked like they would rather be anywhere else in the world than on that field last Sunday. Just an all around dud in all three phases of the game.
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It’s bad when the (interim) head coach, and one of the captains of the team, publicly admits that they were not satisfied with the effort of some players. Plus, the eye in the sky don’t lie. If you’re loafing out there, we will all see it.
And re-tweet it.
And I get it, there’s nothing to play for if you’re the Titans. Players may likely be thinking about their health and their future, more so than ramming head-first into a charging Chris Ivory. As a business man, I have to respect that business decision.
But that comes at a price. Like the Jets, the Titans’ final three opponents still have plenty to play for, and will have no mercy or compassion either.
This week Tennessee travels to Foxborough to take on the defending world champion New England Patriots. A team that is still in play for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. A team that defeated the Titans 59-0 when they last visited in 2009.
Tennessee will host Houston the following week. The Texans will enter that game in the hunt for a division title, and the automatic playoff birth that comes with it. Houston has won six of their last seven against the Titans, outscoring Tennessee 203-101.
To close the season, the Titans will travel to Indianapolis to face their old nemesis. The Colts could potentially be playing for a division title as well, and could potentially have their franchise quarterback Andrew Luck back under center.
Tennessee has played them close in recent season finales, but Indianapolis usually has their playoff seed secured by then. This time the Colts will have something on the line, and will be in no mood to play around.
For all of their losing the last couple of years, one thing that could never be questioned was Tennessee’s on-field effort. With a history of consistency in that regard, I am willing to give them a Mulligan for last week’s performance.
But if the Titans have mentally checked out for the season, then you better believe that their final three opponents will exploit it…and put it on display for all of the sports world to see.
Just like the Jets.
It’s all about pride now for the Titans. It’s gut check time in Tennessee.