The Tennessee Titans are 1-2.
The Tennessee Titans could easily be 3-0.
The Tennessee Titans could easily be 0-3.
Where does this leave us? How good or bad is this team? At this point, I don’t think anyone knows for sure. There are plenty of positive signs for the team, but there are also plenty of negatives. As head coach Mike Mularkey said after the loss, “We have to coach better, we have to play better, and I think they have to officiate better. All of us have to do things better.” Many Titans’ fans believe the team would have defeated the Oakland Raiders if it were not for three questionable calls/no-calls at the end of the fourth quarter. Would the team have won if the referee had not called offensive pass interference on Andre Johnson after he made what looked like the game tying touchdown catch? Possibly. Would the team have won if the refs had called defensive pass interference on the Raiders when Titans’ wide receiver Harry Douglas looked like he was grabbed and tripped by the Oakland player on the final pass of the game for the Titans? Possibly. Would the Titans have been able to score from the three yard line if the refs had blown the whistle sooner, as they should have, which would have kept Taylor Lewan from diving into the pile in an attempt to help his teammate? Possibly.
What’s my point? Simple: The Titans cannot control what the officials do or do not do. The Titans need to play better the rest of the game so they are not in a position to need the officials to make a call. For what it’s worth, this is not lessening the influence an officiating crew can have on a game. We have seen NFL refs make some pretty egregious and game-changing calls. Generally though, the refs are not the ones that decide the outcome. This is where the Titans have to do better. Coach better. Play better.
Marcus Mariota has to play better. He is the franchise. He needs to stop trying to do too much and simply protect the ball better. There is a conversation to be had about the offensive system limiting his effectiveness, and perhaps we will dive into that at some point. But for now, system flaws or no system flaws, Mariota can and should play better.
The wide receivers need to make more plays for their QB. They lost too many 50/50 balls on Sunday. The got out hustled and out played. Missing Delanie Walker and Kendal Wright hurt the team, but the guys on the field have to do more to make Mariota’s job easier.
The coaches have to do better. Clock management was awful at the end of the first half. After the first down run and slide by Mariota they did not call a timeout. That would imply they were content with allowing the quarter to end. There was no urgency to the play calling. You would assume that after that first down play that did not stop the clock or gain much yardage, that the team was going to run out the clock. You would assume incorrectly. The took a few more shots, the last of which resulted in an interception. The coaches put the offense and Mariota in a no-win situation there. They were only half-way trying to move the ball down the field. That interception goes on Mariota’s stats, but the coaches are really the ones to blame.
I’m sorry this article seems so negative. There were some very good things about this game. DeMarco Murray ran like a grown man. The offensive line is blocking better now than they have in years. The defense continues to step up and contain opposing offenses. But even with all that, the Titans only scored 10 points and notched their second loss of the season. They now head to Houston in what will be a completely different test of the team. Let’s hope the Titans play better, coach better and that the refs officiate better.