By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – November 3, 2019)
Beat down and demoralized… not sure if that describes the team after this game or the fan base, but let’s dispense with all the ticker tape and get to the main course, so we can finish and move on with our day.
LEWAN IS THE PORTRAIT OF THE TITANS OFFENSIVE LINE
During one series in the first half against Carolina, the Titans offensive line committed three penalties, two of them by the highest paid left tackle in the sport. Taylor Lewan was dinged for a hold, which isn’t a surprise, and then was flagged for illegal hands to the face, which is even LESS of a surprise, considering it’s a rarity if he doesn’t get called for one or both.
CBS then reported he was on the sidelines preaching discipline and being better to his teammates on the OL. You first, bruh. Outside of Nashville, Taylor Lewan is seen as a goober, because how could he not be? He talks and he gets paid and then he gets suspended for PEDs, misses the first four games, and Titans fans respond with “Free Lewan” signs, as if he was somehow wronged.
The OL played like they weren’t on the same page, in fact it was more as if they were reading completely different books in different countries in languages that didn’t even match the country they were in, and then they had to get together for a book club. This has to be better. Keith Carter has to shoulder some of this blame, because his unit looks out of sync to an embarrassing degree.
Penalties were an issue, and we’ll get there, but what exactly was Arthur Smith attempting to accomplish with his scheme and playcalling on Sunday? Derrick Henry had one carry, ONE, 20 minutes into the football game. We saw too much of Dion Lewis, and though he did a few good things, he nearly fumbled twice, but survived one of them. The second resulted in a turnover.
The Titans ran 15 plays through the first 23 minutes of the game, and had a squadoosh on the scoreboard to show for it. I would love to know what the concept was offensively and what was going on, because it was baffling. It was only because of the defensive effort early that it wasn’t a blowout before halftime.
Ryan Succop returned and missed his first field goal attempt, Ryan Tannehill threw a few to guys wearing Carolina Panthers jerseys, all those penalties, the game plan, and even the secondary getting wrong footed a few times. Oh, and then there’s not accounting for Christian McCaffrey on one of the easiest touchdowns CMC will ever have in his career.
Mama told me there’d be days like this indeed. It felt very early on like it might be a slog with a bunch of miscues, but this was a pretty pathetic effort all the way around. The 11 penalties for 99 yards, a few that wiped out big gainers, and honestly a 12th that could have been called on Kevin Byard for DPI on Greg Olsen on the game’s opening possession, were probably the biggest red flag, but three turnovers will get you beat every time.
It also made time of possession that much more lopsided.
He went 0-3 on FGs in the game, including the early miss that just sort of signaled this might not be a good day for Titans fans. He was returning from injury, but the bigger question is SHOULD he have. He’s a place kicker, so it might not be easy to see. Perhaps he was drilling them in practice all week and said he was fine, but he didn’t look right. These weren’t bad holds or bad snaps, these were bad kicks.
In a game that we anticipated to be relatively close, every point would be at a premium, and leaving six on the board made any chance of a comeback much more difficult. He’s been good for much of his career in Nashville, no doubt, but maybe the Titans should have held him out a little bit longer. Easy for me to say in hindsight, but that’s the gift of a postgame analysis piece.
IS IT TIME TO BOTTOM OUT
There’s a question in the NBA right now surrounding the Golden State Warriors and whether they should put Steph Curry on ice and not bring him back this season, where even if he does return, the team has a huge uphill climb to reach the playoffs. The Titans are going to have a losing season, as I’ll go ahead and predict losses against the Chiefs, Saints, at least once against Houston, and either another loss to Indy or a loss to Oakland.
What’s to be gained by wins that result in a losing season, compared to a higher draft pick when this team needs to find the quarterback of the future? There could be some guys on the move, but how many of those guys are ones you put a pin in and think, THAT’S the guy that changes things? I’m not campaigning for tanking, but I understand the sentiment at this stage, believe me. And every win just pushes back your draft position.
I think you’re now looking to 2020 if you’re a Titans fan. They could go on a tear, but why would you torture yourself by believing that to be likely?
It wasn’t their best game to be sure, especially in handling McCaffrey, but this unit has been asked to do so much week in and week out to overcome an offense you simply can never trust to put up points. Outside of the Chicago Bears and maybe the Buffalo Bills, nobody asks more of the defense than the Tennessee Titans. This was a 2-4 team when that group was surrendering just 15.3 points per game.
They looked gassed in the second half and even late in the second quarter, because they were on the field all day long and weren’t able to create consistent pressure on Kyle Allen. They did drop him three times and still forced a turnover, so it wasn’t a terrible day, but it was less of a standout than weeks previous. Harold Landry and Rashaan Evans have been great, particularly as of late, and let’s not forget, there was no Jurrell Casey up front, which makes a difference.
One thing not to overlook is how important Casey’s presence is to the development of rookie DT Jeffery Simmons. There’s a tutelage that you want the young man to have, and nobody better to teach him the intricacies of the NFL game than 99.
Said it after the loss in Denver, the season was over then and it’s definitely over now. Yes, the next two are at home, but one is against the Chiefs, who likely will have Patrick Mahomes on the field again. The Titans often play up to competition, but this team ain’t beating that one. This team looks like 6-10 or 7-9 right now, and Derrick Henry is officially being squandered. There are some problems that don’t have solutions this season, so it’s time to look to the future.
I may eat my words in two months, but I doubt it. Up next, a loss to Kansas City back in the Music City.