AP Picture/Charlie Riedel
The Tennessee Titans’ AFC South-leading 5-3 stammer is a farce since the team cannot extend in opposition to high competitors.
With Sunday’s 20-17 time beyond legislation loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Titans are in actuality 0-3 in opposition to opponents that at the moment sport a winning stammer. Tennessee’s most effective victory came in opposition to the 4-5 Washington Commanders, who’re at the moment in closing put apart within the NFC East.
Mike Vrabel’s squad feasted on the league’s dregs, however a long way more is essential to change into anything larger than a one-and-carried out participant on this year’s postseason.
To Tennessee’s credit rating, the Titans obtain overwhelmed the teams they would perchance quiet obtain. The team gives a effectively-established identification that fundamentally works in its opt.
The two-time reigning AFC South champs will flee the ball and enact so at a high stage. They play a bodily price of football to preserve other teams off-steadiness. Vrabel and Co. enact a extra special job getting the most out of their personnel, and no-one can argue the Titans have to no longer effectively-coached.
These organizational traits allow Tennessee to be consistently aggressive. They keep no longer gloss over the team’s shortcomings, even supposing.
The Titans held the Chiefs virtually 12 facets below their league-leading scoring average coming into the competition. Kansas City’s backs mixed for a inappropriate 14 yards on 12 carries, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes led the model with 63 speeding yards.
Tennessee’s defense flustered Mahomes for quite loads of of the competition. The motive the Titans are more possible to be a unhealthy matchup for the Chiefs is the reality Tennessee can consistently consume within the trenches on every aspect of the ball.
The Titans invent operating lanes for Derrick Henry to characteristic him as their workhorse, whereas the defensive line is proficient ample to consume one-on-one matchups with out rising stress applications.
In actual fact, the Titans did no longer even blitz Mahomes within the first half of when setting up their 14-9 lead, per NFL Next Gen Stats (h/t ESPN’s Adam Teicher).
AP Picture/Charlie Riedel
But despite all that, superior expertise tends to shine via over time, as it did Sunday unhurried within the fourth quarter and time beyond legislation. The Titans know they’re miniature. Vrabel fundamentally admitted as great. Tennessee goes as Henry goes, and all people knows it.
“Now we had been ready to bid him, and he’s helped us consume quite loads of video games since I’ve been here,” Tennessee’s head coach stated after the game. “I build no longer what else we would enact … throw it 50 cases? I indicate, who the (bleep) would we throw it to?”
Vrabel’s simmering frustration in a roundabout arrangement takes a shot at general supervisor Jon Robinson.
Henry is in actuality a numerous expertise. On the loads of hand, the roster spherical him has eroded, initiating with the offensive line.
Nate Davis returned to the lineup at appropriate guard, however left guard is no longer virtually as solid, with Rodger Saffold opting to roam away in free agency this offseason. Saffold’s replacement, Aaron Brewer, is an undersized and nimble blocker who lacks the identical energy on the purpose of assault.
Within the meantime, Dennis Daley begins at left kind out after Taylor Lewan suffered a season-ending knee hurt.
Accidents are phase of the difficulty. The Titans cannot fully change a precious outdated and hope to develop at reasonably the identical stage.
The earlier declare may perchance perchance no longer be more evident than at quarterback, the put apart third-spherical rookie Malik Willis started his second consecutive sport for the injured Ryan Tannehill. On the loads of hand, the shortcoming of have faith Tennessee had in looking out out for to pass the ball in opposition to the Chiefs extends beyond the quarterback put apart.
The Titans selected to alternate closing year’s high receiver, A.J. Brown, to the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason. Despite the reality that rookie first-rounder Treylon Burks used to be fully healthy appropriate now—which he’s no longer, as he’s going via turf toe—he may perchance perchance no longer realistically replicate what the Pro Bowl broad receiver brought to the offense.
Tennessee would no longer obtain somebody to throw to on the out of doors. Actually. The Titans’ broad receivers did no longer catch a single pass in opposition to the Chiefs. No longer one.
Willis carried out 5 of 16 passes for 80 yards, and 48 of those came on a brief conceal to rookie tight stop Chigoziem Okonkwo on the Titans’ first play from scrimmage.
Brown even took a moment one day of the game to “critique” the play of his outdated teammates with a since-deleted tweet. Cloak captures are living with out demolish, even supposing.
Robert Woods leads the Titans with 256 receiving yards. To worship how disheartening that number in actuality is, he did no longer even crack the league’s high-75 receivers coming into this weekend’s play earlier than posting a donut in opposition to the Chiefs.
“We accumulate into this drop-support sport, and that is the reason no longer the put apart we wanna play the game,” Vrabel stated. “But I know [Willis] made some in actuality nice balls that acquired up and down that hopefully we can figure out a system to catch and near down with.”
Tannehill’s eventual return from his injured ankle will wait on some. His broad receivers have to no longer going to magically accumulate better. The team’s tight ends can kind about a performs however no longer ample. The team’s success falls on Henry’s shoulders (or, more accurately, his legs), correct as Vrabel stated.
Fortunately, Tennessee performs in arguably the NFL’s weakest division. The Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans obtain a mixed 7-17-2 stammer. The Titans obtain already beat up their competitors with a 3-0 stammer within the division.
A effectively-ready team with a superstar at operating support and a phenomenal-as-nails defensive entrance can roam a prolonged system within the game of football.
On the loads of hand, the combo simply is no longer ample on the skilled stage for the Titans to be anything larger than a champion of a outmoded division.
Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Record. Observe him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.