The Tennessee Titans have bounced back nicely from an 0-2 start, winning three in a row and taking sole possession of the AFC South heading into their bye week.
Of course, the wins had to come in the familiar ugly style that the team knows all too well, but considering how they scratched and clawed their way to victories that they absolutely had to have, that is huge for team morale and momentum at this point.
With several guys being injured and inexperienced, the bye week is going to provide a great opportunity to clean some things up and come out even better before the true gauntlet of the season starts. Their luck with bye weeks has not been great recently, but this year it does actually seem to be coming at the right time, which is a sentiment very reminiscent of last year.
Looking at the overall situation that the team is in right now, the week off absolutely should do them favors, but it is not magically going to make them the most feared team in the league.
Not every Tennessee Titans’ problem will be fixed by the bye week
The biggest thing the bye week is going to be good for is helping with the injuries, which, as is usually the case, is holding the team back right now. Excluding Harold Landry, whose season is over, the players listed below are huge losses for the Titans, and Elijah Molden, Racey McMath, and Treylon Burks are all on IR.
Aside from Burks, who was placed on IR just days ago, there is a good chance that all of the players listed will be back when the Titans play the Indianapolis Colts at home on October 23. Mike Vrabel has also said that those injured will be working during the bye week to get back to 100 percent as soon as possible.
One area that could get a huge boost after the bye week is the defense, which has honestly been alright given the circumstances.
Sure, the pass defense has been a liability on the surface, but when you are missing one of your starting safeties, your starting slot cornerback, and your backup slot cornerback, results are going to be less than pretty.
The last two games especially have shown how much the Titans miss Amani Hooker when he is not covering his side of the field. Insert him, Molden, and Amadi back into this lineup, and you will see that they will help the team not get beat nearly as badly through the air.
Bringing back their other starting edge rusher in Bud Dupree, and Ola Adeniyi, who is big for the depth on the edges, will further add to a pass rush that has been far from bad even without the injuries. And adding Zach Cunningham to a middle linebacker core that is already deep will cause even more problems for opposing offenses.
A fully healthy Tennessee Titans defense will go a long way, and that unit could return to being dominant like they were when they were at the top of their game last year.
On the other hand, there is still going to be a lot to be figured out offensively. Even if Todd Downing makes the changes that the fans and media have been clamoring for, there are still areas that will hold the team back.
First and foremost, the offensive line has been an absolute liability, and we saw in Sunday’s game just how much duress Ryan Tannehill was under. Nate Davis’ absence certainly did not help matters, but how does he help the left side of the line perform any better? The sad news is that there appears to be no help in sight in that regard.
Additionally, Burks being sidelined for the next three games is going to limit what the Titans can do through the air. The silver lining is that McMath is likely to return soon, and he is a young guy with the potential to stretch the field and force defenses to pay attention to him. But he only has two receptions in his career, so he is not just going to come in and be a stud from the start.
On top of all of that, the Tennessee Titans are not going to go anywhere if they are not giving their best offensive playmakers the best chance to go out there and succeed. The good news is that Vrabel hinted that personnel changes could be coming after the bye week.
Hopefully, that means more of players such as Kyle Philips and Treylon Burks when he returns and less of Cody Hollister and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine. It would also be great to see more of Austin Hooper and Chig Okonkwo and significantly less of Geoff Swaim.
Players returning from injury will be a big help for the Tennessee Titans, but there are also problems that they themselves will have to fix, and those that are a long shot to be fixed at this point in the season. But even when everyone returns to full health we will have to hope that they can continue to stay that way, which seems like an uphill battle given past history and the nature of the sport.