The Tennessee Titans have a tough matchup tonight against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and everyone knows it.
Facing a veteran defense led by Mike Tomlin is always a tough task, and that gets even tougher when you factor in that it is a road game on a short week. As daunting as that sounds, the Steelers are still only favored by about a field goal.
Part of that is because the Steelers just aren't very good on offense and they are going to try to have Kenny Pickett gut it out with some sore ribs. Last week the Tennessee Titans defense looked like they were playing on the dominant level that many people thought they could heading into the season, and that should make things very difficult for the Steelers.
One of the reasons why the Tennessee Titans defense played so well is because they were sparked by the offense and the historic debut of rookie QB, Will Levis.
A lot of people have taken that energy and turned it into concern. Instead of being excited to watch Levis, everyone has hedged every word of praise with "but don't be surprised if he looks bad on Thursday."
Could that happen? Absolutely, but that isn't the point!
What really matters for the Tennessee Titans
Excluding Will Levis's game on Sunday, there have been 21 games where a rookie quarterback has started. Do you know how many of those games ended up with the rookie throwing 4 touchdowns? 0.
How about throwing 3 touchdowns? Just one, and it was when Bryce Young and the Carolina Panthers were getting beaten so badly by the Detroit Lions that they scored two touchdowns in the last 12 minutes of the game (garbage time) against the Lions' backups.
The reality of the situation is that the average statline for Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, and Anthony Richardson has been a 61.8% completion percentage, 1.1 touchdown passes, and 0.4 interceptions.
Those teams would kill to see their rookie quarterback have a day like Will Levis had, just to reassure them that there actually is upside in their rookie and that they aren't just wasting their time with a player who might never show that kind of potential.
Young, Stroud, and Richardson might be great quarterbacks, they might be terrible, or they might be something in between, but we won't know for a while. However, any upside they might have is still theoretical and Tennessee Titans fans have the joy of knowing that Levis has already proven that he has that ability on an actual NFL football field.
This is a process and there are going to be ups and downs this year, but even in the down times the fans and the franchise know that Levis has the tools to do great things. As hard as it might be for some people to stomach, Tennessee Titans fans should stop talking about or thinking about the playoffs because that isn't what this season is about anymore...until it is.
What I mean by that is that this franchise needs to be doing everything it can to figure out what Levis does best and how they can build the offense around that. We all saw that he has elite arm talent and that he seems to have all of the poise that you could hope for in a rookie, now they need to see what else he has.
Can he play a game where he has to take the check down every play for an entire drive? If not, they need to fix that. Can he go an entire quarter without throwing the ball and still come out and stay in rhythm? If not, they need to fix that.
Those are the questions that this team needs to have the answer to by the end of the season because once the season is over they have to make major investments in the roster and he is the centerpiece.
Keep doing the right things and make Levis as comfortable and effective as possible. Then, if you look up in Week 12 and the Tennessee Titans are still in the hunt for the AFC South title or a wild card spot, that is when coaches and fans can start to think about the postseason.
Until then, even if Levis has a bad game, this is about protecting Levis and finding ways to replicate what he did against the Falcons and expand the playbook around that. Fans shouldn't get too low because, at the end of the day, you know that he still has all of the tools that made him so successful last week, even if they aren't always as evident.