2008. This was the last season the Tennessee Titans made a run in playoffs. If it weren’t for Chris Johnson’s tragic ankle injury against the Ravens, they may have even made the Super Bowl. It is now the 2016 season and the Titans are coming off a year of having the worst record in the NFL. And they are only down by a half a game in their division. They have quite literally gone from worst to almost first.
The Titans have some crucial wins and some devastating losses under their belts this season. They have fought hard to be where they are and have the mentality of a playoff team. But they are taking it one week at a time, one game at a time. This Week 13, the Tennessee Titans are taking a BYE after winning a nail-biter of a game in Chicago. Their Week 12 game against the Bears came down to the very last second in which the Titans’ defense allowed the Bears to get within the 10-yard line to attempt a game-winning touchdown but were held off. The Titans sure have a lot of work to do during their BYE week.
Taylor Lewan has been a person-of-interest for the Titans’ offensive line this year. While he is a hell of a Left Tackle, he is also prone to forgetting some of the more basic rules of football and causing flags to be thrown on crucial plays. This week against Chicago, Lewan was called for a face mask twice. This penalty is an automatic 15 yards taken away from the offense, and this week those 15 yards could have been the difference in a Tennessee Titans touchdown. Maybe during the BYE week he can review some of the more basic rules of football.
Lewan is not the only obstacle the Titans have faced within their rankings this year. The Titans secondary has been less than stellar, letting big plays be made by the opposing offense and getting called for pass interference every other play. They have needed some new cornerbacks for years, as McCourty usually has trouble remaining healthy and Cox is targeted or flagged nearly every play. This past week, in fact, the Titans have cut Perrish Cox and bumped Kalan Reed up to the cornerback spot. As well as the secondary, there have been problems with the special teams. Earlier in the season, the Titans special teams coach, Bobby April, was released from the team. In the off-season, they added veteran Wide Receiver, Marc Mariani, who has previously called Tennessee home, as their kick and punt returner. He has a reputation in Tennessee for being able to run the football back to the end zone or near of but that has not been seen yet this season.
While the Titans have their fair share of problems, they also have some star playmakers. Rishard Matthews is a Wide Receiver who has recorded a touchdown in every game for the past 6 games, leading the team in touchdown catches. Along with Matthews, DeMarco Murray is nearly leading the league in rushing yards, second only to Ezekiel Elliott, with 1, 043 yards and has surpassed a franchise record of rushing touchdowns. Not only has he rushed for touchdowns, but in their Week 10 win against the Green Bay Packers, Murray threw a passing touchdown to Delanie Walker in the end zone. Another star player for the Titans offense is, thank God, their quarterback Marcus Mariota. In the month of November, he recorded a passer rating of 115, with 1,124 passing yards, and 11 passing touchdowns, higher than any quarterback in the AFC (yes, that means you, Tom Brady).
And the Titans defense hasn’t been all bad. Brian Orakpo is leading the team in sacks (9), followed closely by Derrick Morgan (8). The team has 11 total interceptions on the season. From what I’ve seen, they have finally implemented a pass-rush and are not giving their opposing quarterbacks ample time to pass the ball always.
With most of the season behind them, the Titans go into the final quarter of the season coming off a big road win and a productive BYE week. The biggest challenge they have left to face is against the Denver Broncos on December 11, but lucky for the Titans they get home field and home town crowd advantage. If the offensive line can protect their quarterback and block sufficiently against one of the top defenses in the league, the Titans have a real shot at winning the game and continuing on to win their division.
All I want for Christmas this year is a Titans playoff run, and for once that is a realistic goal. Titan Up.