For the first time since before the Jon Robinson/Mike Mularkey era, the Tennessee Titans have been eliminated from the playoffs with several games left on the schedule.
When the Houston Texans made their field goal in overtime the Titans became the fourth team to be officially eliminated from the playoffs, but that felt inevitable. The thing that really hurt Titans fans on Sunday was watching Will Levis go down with an injury late in overtime.
On a day where the rookie quarterback was sacked on more than 20% of his dropbacks, Levis got rolled up as he was hit which made for a pretty gruesome sight, but thankfully it seems like he narrowly dodged danger. The latest news from Ian Rapoport says that Levis has an ankle sprain and that he will have an MRI today to determine the severity.
At this point, the Tennessee Titans have shown no ability to protect Will Levis. Over the past offseason, the biggest issue that Mike Vrabel and Ran Carthon were tasked with was fixing the offensive line, and they have failed.
They had some limitations like a lack of cap space, but even then it is hard to fail to improve an offensive line that was one of the worst in the NFL. Andre Dillard was a swing and a miss, Aaron Brewer was given a new deal, and there has been a revolving door at right tackle that has finally landed on Dillon Radunz.
Most discouraging is that the Titans committed the cardinal sin of drafting a guard in the first round presuming that it was going to be a safe pick, and Peter Skoronski just hasn't lived up to the standard of a first-round guard. In fact, he has been consistently outplayed by Daniel Brunskill who is above-average at best and more on par for what you would want out of a late Day 2 player.
To make matters worse, the Tennessee Titans insist that they are a running team despite not being able to run the ball. That means that more often than not, Will Levis is stuck trying to dig the offense out of a hole on 2nd/3rd and long (which just leads to more hits on the quarterback).
These are systemic failures that need to be addressed in the offseason, but for now, the Titans have to worry about who they are going to start at quarterback this week. The easy suggestion is Ryan Tannehill, but that is the wrong decision because of where this franchise is right now.
Why the Tennessee Titans must chose Malik Willis
With nothing to gain, the Tennessee Titans need to shut down Will Levis and Jeffery Simmons for the rest of the season. Those players are the core of your team in 2024 and the risk of them missing any time in 2024 far outweighs any benefit they might bring.
Would Ryan Tannehill give the Titans their best chance to win a game? Yes, absolutely. However, considering that this team has already been eliminated from the playoffs, that isn't a priority anymore. Instead, this team should be thinking about what is best for them in 2024.
Tannehill isn't going to be in Nashville next season and it doesn't do him any good to go out there behind that offensive line and take 30 or 40 hits over the next three games. More importantly, the Tennessee Titans have a chance to see if Malik Willis is worth keeping around or not.
Backup quarterback play is crucial in the NFL and it is hard to find a good backup quarterback without paying $5 million or more. If Willis could come in and show that he can be a decent backup quarterback, it would take one item off of the Tennessee Titans to-do list for this offseason.
Also, he is mobile enough to move around behind a bad offensive line and it certainly feels like scramble plays are going to be the most productive plays from here on out.
Unless Vrabel is trying to scratch and claw to do everything to make sure that he doesn't get fired or traded this offseason, the best move for the future of this team is to put Willis out there. It gives the team more tape to analyze so that they can make the best decision for themselves, it does right by Tannehill who doesn't deserve to be injured by this offensive line for a fourth time in two years, and in all likelihood it will improve the Titans' draft position for whoever is making the picks for them next season.
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