The Tennessee Titans are heading into the NFL Playoffs as a No. 1 seed with almost no fanfare from any national media. So, what else is new? The Titans are perennial underdogs and, aside from one or two national media members who cover the team closely, don’t seem to inspire confidence from the big networks. The big-market friendly writers would rather joke about Nashville’s hot chicken and who’s playing at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge than really delve into the incredible successes that head coach Mike Vrabel and his team of Titans have managed over the course of this season.
Titans going to be worst #1 seed since ___?
In a related note, Vrabel is Coach of the Year.
— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) January 2, 2022
Sure, the Titans aren’t media darlings like the Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) from just a season ago, or even the Baltimore Ravens (14-2) from 2019 who the Titans were able to defeat on the road in the AFC Divisional Round. The Titans have not followed the typical blueprint to climb to the top of the conference. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill won’t throw for 400 yards like Patrick Mahomes, or run for over 100 like Lamar Jackson, but he doesn’t have to. Plenty of adjectives have been used to describe this year’s Tennessee Titans team, many of which have been less than flattering, but few in the national media are labeling the Titans fairly – they are the most battle-tested team in the playoffs.
The Titans are the first team in NFL history to have eight wins over teams that finished the regular season above .500. Five of those wins came during the Titans’ six-game winning streak that featured wins over the Bills, Colts, Chiefs, Rams, and Saints. To make the Titans’ run even more impressive, running back Derrick Henry missed the games against the Rams and Saints, among others, after suffering a Jones Fracture in Week 8’s win over Indianapolis.
The 2021 #Titans became the first team in NFL history to record at least 8 wins against teams that finished the season with a winning record.
— Mike Herndon (@MikeMiracles) January 10, 2022
Tennessee is not just battle tested in terms of strength of schedule and wins against quality opponents. The Titans set an NFL record this season by using 91 players on the active roster throughout the season. No team in NFL history has been as banged up as the Titans have been this year with key players such as Henry, A.J. Brown, Julio Jones, Taylor Lewan and Kristian Fulton all missing multiple games due to injury issues.
— Teresa Walker (@TeresaMWalker) January 10, 2022
Many box score warriors check in to see how Tennessee performed at the end of each week, grading the Titans entirely on box score and obscure stats such as DVOA. However, it’s difficult to put up video game numbers with practice squad quality players.
To win 12 games with a revolving door of players being brought in through free agency, or pried from other practice squads around the league, is not just a testament to the team’s depth. The coordination of player personnel and weekly game planning are a testament to the relationship between GM Jon Robinson and Vrabel. This winning approach and never say die attitude has been contagious and the team now believes what the national media don’t – anyone who wants to take their place in the next round better be ready for the now healthy premiere players, but also for the next man up. It is a deep pool in which the Titans now swim.
Featured image courtesy of Trevor Ruszkowski – USA TODAY Sports