Tennessee Titans have proven they can overcome tremendous adversity
When the Titans were at their worst in 2019, it really did look like they were going to be one of the worst teams in the league. They had zero offense, and giving starting duties to Ryan Tannehill seemed mostly like a shot in the dark to save his fading career and the fading season.
But it turned out to be a huge spark for the team, as they won seven of their final ten games and managed to pull off a surprise run to the AFC Championship. Fast forward to now, and many of the problems that plagued the early 2019 Titans are currently rearing their ugly heads.
The offense as a whole just has not been consistent, and the offensive line in particular — even with a surprisingly solid outing on Sunday — has been suspect. The quarterback is not in danger of being benched, and even though he remains under a lot of pressure, the play-calling is a much bigger issue now than it was in 2019.
And before we go any further, Mariota’s seat in 2019 was much hotter than Tannehill’s now, and it would take something absolutely stunning for Tannehill to actually get benched in favor of Malik Willis.
But the point here is, the Titans have offensive issues that, like in 2019, are solvable and would give the team a huge boost if fixed. Right now that issue is Todd Downing and his play-calling, which are keeping the team from maximizing their talent and potential.
He showed slight improvement in the game against the Raiders, but it still almost cost the team yet another win at the end. And it is not like the offensive letdowns in the second half are flukes in the slightest.
Vrabel does not want to fire Downing right now, which is a little frustrating because promoting Tim Kelly is an easy change that is highly likely to benefit the Titans. We will just have to hope that the play-calling improves, and with Kelly here, we should be more optimistic that it happens, whether that means his influence is felt in Downing’s calls, or Kelly does actually get promoted.
Going back to 2019, you could see how much better the offense became when Tannehill was under center. Say what you will about him now, but his presence made everyone better than they were under Mariota, and the whole team gained momentum as a result.
The offensive line at the time was also dealing with ineffectiveness and lack of experience and chemistry, but as they got more experience together, they too improved and made the Titans tougher to play against. With Taylor Lewan going down for this season and so much inexperience at the other positions, of course, the whole line will struggle for a few games this year, but there is hope for improvement if the coaches play their cards the right way.
And if Dennis Daley continues to surprise us and plays as well as he did on Sunday, results might come quicker than we think.