It was 2008 when the Tennessee Titans last treated fans to a playoff game. That was a home loss to the Ravens 13-10 with Kerry Collins at quarterback for the Titans. In that time they’ve been in the wilderness. Last season seemed like a sign that they’d rise from obscurity. It’s understandable fans are ready to see the team in a playoff game. However, this team is awful. Yes, they’re 8-4 and will likely win the AFC South if not earn a wildcard berth. That being said, they are clearly the beneficiaries of a weak AFC and a soft schedule.
Mike Mularkey and the team seem content to win ugly games. The problem is their short-term success will harm them down the road. Much was made about the “exotic smashmouth,” as Mularkey put it and how it maximized Marcus Mariota’s skill set. The offense has become stagnant because Mariota missed time due to a hamstring injury. Receivers Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews haven’t been completely healthy either. The pass game quickly got figured out and that’s caused the run game to wilt. DeMarco Murray is also breaking down and now Derrick Henry has to to take on more of the load.
The passing game is where things are especially dire. Delanie Walker is the lone dependable threat. Eric Decker has been a busted signing. A big part of that stagnation comes from the coach. Mularkey has yet to tailor his scheme to find a way to get everyone involved. He is more concerned with getting a playoff game and preserving his job than developing his players. Perhaps the Titans are a victim of being overhyped coming into the year. That’s what caused them to forgo developing Mariota in favor of running him into the ground.
Their ceiling is clearly defined this season. They are destined to either host a playoff game against Baltimore and lose or go to Jacksonville and lose. The talent level isn’t there on offense. Next season management needs to take a look in the mirror and realize that a playoff game isn’t the end goal. Look at Miami last year. They made it to the playoffs and became a tire fire the next year because they weren’t honest with themselves (and Ryan Tannehill was lost for the season in training camp).
The Titans could’ve been a fun team but they squandered that. It seems as though they’ve wasted their draft capital from the Rams trading up to the number one pick in 2016. Tennessee chose poorly in free agency and what they’ve built to this point could fall apart next year. Sure, Mularkey will make the playoffs but so did Ben McAdoo.