While Tennessee is unlikely to be challenged for the AFC South crown in 2022, and should be on track to host a playoff game this January, their lackluster play on the field has everybody looking in the mirror.
The Titans are now 1-5 against teams that have a winning record, with their only win coming against the Washington Commanders in Week 5, who were 1-4 at the time and still starting Carson Wentz at quarterback.
The results don’t lie. Where things stand right now, the Titans are not a legitimate threat to make a run in the AFC playoffs. They have not been able to hang with the best teams from around the league, and their run-first identity has been fruitless against some of the better defensive fronts.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel acknowledged after the game on Sunday that the Titans are at a pivotal point in their season, and says the players will need to make a choice in how they want the remainder of the season to go.
“I think we’re at a crossroads,” Vrabel told the media. “I told the team I think we’re at a crossroads in how we want to continue down this season. We can’t point fingers. We have to assume that each and every one of us didn’t do a good enough job because we didn’t. We have to come to work with greater energy and greater resolve to prepare to win a football game.”
While the Titans head coach is down about how things have been going for his team lately, I didn’t get the sense that he was hopeless. Vrabel seemed to think that turning the corner on this season just comes down to the choice made by the players and staff.
“It sucks losing. It sucks getting beat the way we did, but we’ve got to make a decision,” Vrabel continued. “How much are we willing to invest and trust in what the coaches are doing? Trust in what other players are doing? I just think it’s a critical time for us.”
You never know what may happen down the stretch, but as of now, it feels like the Titans are lacking a whole lot more than investment. There’s a clear talent gap between Tennessee and the high profile NFL teams that have been on the schedule.
The real crossroads Tennessee should be at is the one where they decide what they are going to do about the trajectory they are headed, and I’m not talking about “trust” from the players.
I’m talking about a crossroads where the front office and the coaching staff look to make a tangible change to their game plan and philosophy instead of expecting different results with the same process. Where they adopt a modern offensive approach and prioritize acquiring and paying the high-end talent that is needed to compete for a Super Bowl.
That’s the only way to enact real change. If they don’t, they’re going to waste their championship window, and may chase their head coach away.
Image via George Walker IV / Tennessean.com-USA TODAY NETWORK