By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – September 19, 2019)
My friend and colleague, Blaine Bishop, said it best on Thursday night following the loss. “Well, that sucked.”
Yes, it did. I’m not even going to write a lengthy intro. Let’s get to it. Here are the Big 6 Takeaways from whatever the heck that was we watched tonight on the NFL Network.
THE OFFENSIVE LINE WAS EXTREMELY OFFENSIVE
I’m not even leading off with Marcus Mariota, but we’ll get there. Before I get to the QB, I’m going to watch the football from its inception to its final resting point. It starts on the line and then gets snapped to the quarterback. Taylor Lewan is sorely missed, but the guys that attempted to protect Marcus or create running lanes on Thursday night failed in every conceivable way, even some ways we didn’t know existed.
When you see a quarterback get sacked nine times, it’s not all on one thing or another, but we can point to both issues. The first is Mariota holding the ball too long and waiting for plays to develop that ARE NOT GOING TO DEVELOP. But the second is no time for anything to develop, especially when you’ve got Jamil Douglas on Calais Campbell. The latter looked like Reggie White against a high school benchwarmer. This was about as one-sided an affair as you will ever see in a 1-on-1 matchup.
The Jaguars were discombobulated and the Jalen Ramsey thing was hovering over all their heads coming in, but even if Ramsey is dealt on Friday, the Titans got murdered by a good defense that played in a much more unified fashion. This was about beating the Titans and that’s what they did.
OKAY, NOW WE’LL TALK ABOUT… THE HEAD COACH
Still not to Marcus Mariota yet, as I want to go to the sidelines. Sunday, Mike Vrabel made a few questionable decisions in game management, most notably the ridiculous choice to drown 40 seconds off the clock when trailing in order to fail in drawing a cheap offsides penalty agains the Colts. But, on Thursday, you can look to multiple choices that made little sense, particularly not kicking a field goal down 14-0, which led to a 17-0 score a few minutes later.
When your offense is struggling that mightily, you take the points. It’s not desperation time, but that’s how Mike Vrabel coached it. Get yourself within 11, see some points go up on the scoreboard, and force Doug Marrone and the Jaguars to try to run clock and shorten the game. It makes defending them easier because you know what’s coming and what’s not. Instead, you keep the goose egg next to “TITANS” on the scoreboard and you allow Gardner Minshew to throw it a little bit more and keep your defense off balance.
Vrabel also hilariously and inexplicably put Adoree Jackson out to return punts, which we all know is a lost cause at this point, and he did the most typical thing, which is try to field a damp football, fail to do so, and turn the ball over early in the first quarter. Then, Minshew threw a TD and the Jags went up 7-0. I called for a common sense advisor on the sidelines of every NFL and CFB team last week. Any one of us could have told him, PUT ADAM FREAKING HUMPHRIES BACK THERE. HE KNOWS HOW TO DO THIS JOB. ADOREE IS A CALAMITY!
ALRIGHT, NOW LET’S ACTUALLY TALK ABOUT MARCUS MARIOTA
He’s not the guy.
THE PASS RUSH IS ON A MILK CARTON
Cameron Wake terrorized the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, but Jacoby Brissett’s jersey stayed nice and clean on Sunday and Gardner Minshew can just hang his up, no need to wash it after Thursday Night Football. Only Carlos Correa got close, and when he did, he got flagged. The officiating was bad, but if you can’t make a quarterback uncomfortable in the NFL, you’re going to get broken off by that quarterback.
Everybody in the NFL has the potential to beat you if given the chance. They all know how to throw, they all have skills or they wouldn’t have an opportunity in pro football to begin with. Gardner Minshew threw some dimes, he looked great at times and he looked at least pretty good almost the entire time. Nick Foles wearing those Rivers Cuomo glasses on the sidelines has to be thinking… “I may not get back into the game when my collarbone heals.”
Zero sacks against the Jaguars when they’ve got a sixth round draft pick rookie on the field that you should be able to shake. The pass rush was non-existent and Minshew picked them apart enough, even though there were lulls and the secondary did play well for the most part. The DL got bullied. The OL got bullied. The Titans got bullied.
0-2 IN THE DIVISION
With the AFC South so wide open in the post-Luck era and after Nick Foles went down in the opener, the Tennessee Titans have lost to Jacoby Brissett at home and now Gardner Minshew (who threw guys open and seemed a more polished passer than the fifth year starter he was playing against) on the road in prime time. So, you’re playing for that Wildcard I suppose. Well, I’m feeling less sure of my 8-8 prediction now. They’ll play Houston twice in the final month of the season, and there’s plenty of football left to be played, but you don’t have a starting quarterback that scares anybody and we have STILL yet to see Corey Davis do much of anything.
The bigger concern is the AFC South being one of the worst divisions in football and the Titans potentially having the worst QB of the four teams, which includes two backups, and if you want to add Foles to that list, he’s fifth in the division. The Tannehill talk is about to ramp up, and although Mike Vrabel said after the game he’s nowhere close to considering a change, what else could he really have said at that point?
If Mariota plays another game like these two on September 29 in Atlanta, it’s going to be time to take a look at the backup. I think what we know is there’s not a truly dangerous starter on this team, with the current guy playing with no confidence whatsoever. All of this means they’re going nowhere. These two performances were brutal. And the division doesn’t look too open for Tennessee at present.
1-3 MEANS WHAT FOR THE NEXT HOME CROWD?
If you go to Atlanta and get crushed, Lewan coming back at that point for a 1-3 team, how’s that attendance at Nissan going to be on October 6 when Josh Allen and the Bills, who happen to be undefeated right now, are headed into town? 2-2 is a different story, but the malaise that will take hold if this football team is 1-3 and looks bad in doing so.
These two losses weren’t a case of one team being superior to the other in a general sense. That’s what makes it so obnoxious. These were losses because the Titans played loser football and dumb football, starting with the quarterback and head coach and offensive line… even Derrick Henry can’t bail you out of that, especially when he gets 17 carries against the Jags rather than 50. Not like he had a lot of help blocking, but I’d have kept handing it to him all night long.
They need to show up and play well, even if they’re beaten, against Atlanta. If they look like this again, who is paying the money to come see them and park and walk? Even if the Bills are undefeated, they’re the Bills. Their fans will travel, but that’s not a draw as an opponent. Those seats are going to be in the 65% full range if they drop another one.
Just poor. Nothing else to say.
I’m taking a couple of weeks off… a little business to take care of. I’m blessed beyond measure for your time and for the opportunity to speak to you or write something you check out and possibly enjoy. I’m blessed beyond measure for so many things, most of all the woman I’m marrying on Sunday, She is truly God’s ultimate gift to me on this planet, the way he showed me his love for me. I am so thankful, even on a night like tonight when I have to be negative and blunt, for the life he’s given me and the people he’s placed in it. I’ll see you in October…