The Road Ahead
There are a few possible causes for the Titans’ setback on offense. Losing Taylor Lewan to a season-ending injury back in Week 6 (the Titans’ last truly great offensive performance) certainly hurt, as did losing Adam Humphries from the mix at receiver– one of the team’s most reliable players.
Maybe even playcalling and an overreliance on the running game could be to blame, forcing Tennessee into second or third and long situations where Ryan Tannehill can’t rely on the play-action to open the passing game up. All of these are factors– but it’s ignoring the most glaring, and most probable cause of the Titans’ recent offensive woes. The schedule.
Weeks 1 through 6 didn’t pose as a daunting stretch of defenses– not in the way Tennessee’s recent opponents have. While the Titans coasted against teams like Jacksonville and Houston and a banged-up Minnesota team– they’ve hit a wall against stronger groups like Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis. It’s against the stronger defenses, and especially the stronger run defenses, where the Titans offense goes from elite to pedestrian– and it’s not getting easier. The Titans escaped the Baltimore Ravens– statistically one of the best defensive groups in the league, but one without some of their strongest defensive talent. Next week, it’s the Colts again. If Tennessee can’t turn things around permanently, and in a hurry, the backslide could pick back up again.
And even while the defenses get easier, the offenses won’t. Maybe the Browns wouldn’t have been much of an obstacle for the early season Titans, but is it insane to expect Cleveland could beat the tires off a struggling Tennessee defense while the offense struggles to keep up? Same question for Aaron Rodgers’ Packers team. The way things have been, even the Houston Texans could pose a real threat in that final game of the year. After all, even the good version of the Tennessee Titans needed overtime to pull out the win.
And now, here we are. In the middle of a season still within reach of being special, but one at high risk of fading fast. No longer is everything at peace for an undefeated Titans team. Problems are beginning to pop up fast as the schedule becomes a tougher challenge.
With three losses already and three very losable games against three very good teams left to go, and two more against a pair of sneaky tough teams, Tennessee finds themselves, once again, on a crash course to where they always end up. Just a step above average. Just good enough to be sweating out a playoff spot in Week 17. For now, and maybe forever, the Tennessee Titans look like a 9-7 football team.