I was furious when the game between the Tennessee Titans and the Chicago Bears ended on Sunday. I sat there, on the edge of the couch, with my head in my hands. It was ridiculous to react that way to a 27-21 Titans’ victory, but some wins are just different from others. And this win was garbage.
For the majority of three quarters, the Titans proved they were a better team than the Bears. After a few early hiccups on defense, the team settled down and dominated, scoring 27 straight points. Marcus Mariota and the offense continued their hot streak of moving the ball and putting points on the board. The defense got in on the action as well, turning the Bears over a few times. Life was good, until the Titans forgot that in the NFL, you have to play four quarters in a game, not three.
From that point on, the Bears moved the ball nearly effortlessly. The Titans secondary, which has been the weak point of the team for the entire season, looked worse than it has all year. They could not cover anyone. The front seven wasn’t getting much pressure on QB Bears.1 When the Bears scored to make it 27-14, I was still very confident the Titans would easily win this game because I knew the offense would drive down the field and score again. I was wrong. It seems the coaches decided that 27 points was all they needed to win and they should simply go three and out and punt the ball back to the Bears for all the possessions forever and ever until the end of the age. Amen. While that might seem like a solid plan, the Titans had the craziest of misfortunes to see it backfire on them. Who could have predicted that?2
The Bears got the ball back and scored again to get within six points – 27-21. At that point, I decided that the Titans were going to lose and the season was over. I knew the Titans defense wasn’t stopping the Bears mighty offense. I knew the Titans offense was going to run it three times and punt. I knew the conservative play calling was going to ruin the game and the entire season. Essentially, I was 100% correct. The Titans took the ball out of Mariota’s hands and went three and out. They punted and the Bears drove the ball down to the red zone with ease. Then the Bears receivers stopped catching easy passes and lost the game.
I want to make this very clear: The Titans did not win this game. The Titans were handed this game by a group of Bears’ receivers that dropped eight passes on Sunday. At least three of them in the end zone. I’ve never seen anything like it. The Titans did not deserve to win this game even though they were clearly the better team. If they had lost, the coaches and the players would have many questions to answer about the play calling and the execution on the field.
That’s the negative. Now I will give you the positives from this game.
1. Going into their bye week, the Titans can heal and rest and be ready to make a run in the final quarter of the season. The win against the Bears has them at 6-6 and only half a game behind the Houston Texans for the AFC South. This win was as ugly as they come, but it still counts as a win and that is a big deal to a team fighting to remain in the playoff picture.
2. A win like this is a goldmine for coaches. Hopefully it is an opportunity to do some self-reflection as well. There are plenty of things to fix and play calling will be at the top of that list. It’s harder to learn from your mistakes if beat a team by 20 points.
3. Perrish Cox was released. I don’t like to see anyone lose their job, but in a business like the NFL, it’s not the end of the world for Cox. He will most likely land on another roster. In the short run, this might make the Titans worse in the secondary, though I have a hard time seeing how that is possible, but it will be a good move for the future of the team. Cox wasn’t part of the solution after 2016. The team might as well see what they have with their young players like Kalan Reed and LeShaun Sims. This will give Jon Robinson more information to work with when planning his offseason moves.
4. Marcus Mariota is still playing like a top five quarterback in the NFL. He is the real deal and Titans’ fans should be dancing in the street with joy because he is only going to get better and he is already as good as anyone in the league.3
A win is a win. This one was hard to watch, but it still gets a check in the right column. I’ll take it. Rest up Titans. Study up Titans. Patch up that secondary and figure out how to keep a lead. Do those things and you never know what could happen.
Come back next week and we will look at playoff standings, scenarios, and what it all means for the Titans. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comment section below. I would love to read how you felt after the Titans held on to win against the Bears. Were you frustrated like me? Were you just happy to get a win?