Tennessee Titans last chance to establish themselves as a threat

Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean)
Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean) /

Depending on where you look, the Tennessee Titans still have about a 90% chance to make the playoffs.

A month ago fans had dreams of the Tennessee Titans being able to clinch the division quickly in order to make sure that some of their injured players get some much-needed rest. Since then, all the team has been able to do is lose and they have lost in an embarrassing fashion.

The Titans’ big response was to fire Jon Robinson, a move that will almost surely backfire, and now they once again sit on the precipice of irrelevance.

If you took a straw poll among Tennessee Titans fans and asked them what the identity of this team is, they would say that it is Derrick Henry and the running game. That is certainly what Mike Vrabel and Todd Downing want the identity to be and Derrick Henry is set to average more than 21 rushes per game for the third-straight season.

However, this is one of the worst offenses that fans have seen since the Titans moved to Nashville and there is no reason to expect that to change this year.

Right now this team is convinced that they can run through a brick wall, but they really haven’t been consistent enough to explain why they are so convinced. If this is going to be the mentality of the Tennessee Titans offense in the playoffs, then they need to show that they can run on one of the worst run defenses in the NFL.

The Tennessee Titans have to run the ball and run it well this week

No one in the NFL is allowing more rushing yards than the Los Angeles Chargers who are letting teams run it at a whopping 5.4 yards per attempt.

If the Tennessee Titans coaches are going to continue to defend two of the worst pass blockers in the NFL in left tackle Dennis Daley and (to a lesser extent) left guard Aaron Brewer then they need to prove that they are worth their paycheck as run blockers.

One of the very few bright spots in Sunday’s loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars was Henry running the ball for 7.1 yards per clip.

This can get overcomplicated, but the recipe is incredibly simple. Treylon Burks is going to miss another game with a concussion that has slowed his incredible midseason momentum, and none of the other receivers have the juice to threaten the Chargers’ defensive backs.

With Racey McMath as the team’s only deep threat, the passing game is going to rely heavily on Chig Okonkwo and Austin Hooper. A great way to make sure that teams don’t recognize and attack this is to have all three on the field frequently and to utilize the run game and the play-action pass.

Will Todd Downing recognize this? If history is any indicator, this will be a game where Downing calls 50 passes with a majority of them being run out of empty with no threat of the run. However, if the Titans really want to be taken seriously as a team that can win a playoff game this year, they need to understand what identity they are preaching and they have to be able to run it against the team that is least equipped to stop them.