After two straight wins, the Tennessee Titans fell flat on their face.
A defining aspect of last year’s Tennessee Titans was their ability to rebound. Whenever it seemed like the team was on the verge of a season-ending collapse, they pulled off a victory that kept their playoff hopes alive. They kept that up until Week 16, when a deathblow by the Jacksonville Jaguars folded their season.
The 2016 Titans started 1-4, alternated wins and losses for six weeks during the middle of the season, went on a three-game win streak and then lost their chance at the playoffs, even though they controlled their own destiny.
So far in 2017, these Titans are 2-2. They’re already off to a better start than their 2016 version, and they’ve already rebounded from a disappointing season-opening home loss to the Oakland Raiders, similarly to how they fell to the Minnesota Vikings (a playoff team from the previous year) in Week 1 of 2016 at Nissan Stadium.
And just like last year, the Titans were beaten by their division rival Houston Texans in a Week 4 road game, though this time it was much a more baffling and concerning performance. In 2016, the Titans lost a close 27-20 affair, mainly due to a Will Fuller punt return touchdown. In 2017, the Titans got plastered 57-14 by a rookie quarterback who scored five touchdowns and had receivers and running backs running open on virtually every play.
Last year’s loss was a step back and looked to have killed the Titans’ season, but they rallied and nearly made the playoffs. The Titans have earned themselves some cushion early this season with wins over the Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks, but giving up 57 points in a division game is a confidence- and morale-killer, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the New England Patriots beat the Titans 59-0 in 2009.
This is not even remotely the same team as the snow-covered one from eight years ago, but with all of the new additions and a new direction for the franchise, it was believed that those kinds of embarrassing performances would be left in the past for a long while.
This season is not over; far from it, but the Titans fell into some of the worst old habits that many fans are still not recovered from. With the Titans, Texans and Jaguars now all 2-2 and 1-1 within the division, the golden chance to separate from the pack was turned down by the Titans in Week 4.
With QB Marcus Mariota possibly ailing and in danger of missing a game or two, the Titans need to shape up before the season takes a turn for the worse. Upcoming meetings against the Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns should help, but the Titans haven’t afforded themselves the benefit of the doubt after Sunday’s performance.