For years now, the Tennessee Titans have built a reputation on being physical and relentless on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, they physically pound you at the line of scrimmage and use their constricting pass rush to wreak havoc in opposing backfields. Offensively, they put on their hard hats and manhandle opposing defensive lines to the point of no return.
This basic, yet effective formula has given the Titans plenty of success over the last three to four seasons, a successful run that includes multiple division titles and constant playoff appearances in a conference loaded with talent year in and year out.
But for as much success this formula has brought the Titans, the will that the formula requires hasn’t been pushed to its limits in order to be fully tested. In turn, the Titans simply haven’t been met with a philosophy and mindset that works the same way as theirs, and one that doesn’t meet the same efficacy requirements as this plan needs to succeed.
As a result, the Titans have been skating by in a sense, dwindling down the wills of opposing teams, while parading around as a football unlike any other.
But all hands are on deck when you face off against a team that wants to philosophically wire themselves the same way you do, like the Titans did against the Cincinnati Bengals today at Nissan Stadium.
Will say, over the last 2 years, the Bengals are the only team I’ve seen beat the #titans at their own game.— TreJean Watkins (@TreWatkins099) November 27, 2022
Physical, hard nosed football.
Over the course of the Titans’ 20-16 loss to the Bengals, there was a consistent theme playing out on the Titans’ side, both sides of the ball being included.
They were consistently being punched in the mouth, and the worst part about it, was the fact that the Titans looked helpless at times when they indeed got physically thrown around the field.
It was a rather unfamiliar sight, since the Titans have developed a street fight brand of football for themselves, and have completely taken it to heart week to week. So much so, that whenever the Titans faced off against an opponent, it was almost a foregone conclusion that Mike Vrabel’s team would come out of the fight as victors, but not without some battle scars and bruises.
However, that wasn’t the case against the Bengals, as Zac Taylor’s team took it to the Titans on both sides of the ball.
Offensively, the Titans lost the battle at the line of scrimmage in the run game, with Derrick Henry rushing for only 38 yards on 17 carries, while averaging an abysmal 2.2 yards per carry. There was more positivity in the pass protection department, as the Titans only allowed one sack and generally kept Ryan Tannehill clean.
But with such a commitment to the run game, and a lacking passing game to pick up the slack whenever the ground game struggles, success didn’t come often for the Titans’ offense.
Defensively, the holes were more apparent in terms of quantity, as the Titans’ defensive front seven failed to make a large impact over the course of the game. In the run game, they were somewhat gashed in a way we haven’t seen in weeks. Pass rush wise, there wasn’t much success there either, as Joe Burrow found himself passing out of clean pockets more often than not.
As a result of these developments, the Titans found themselves helpless in the physicality department. Which was devastating for the overall outlook for the Titans, as their own physicality is what can win them games from time to time, especially the ones like today when points were limited and the margin of error drastically fell to stomach churning levels.
Luckily for the Titans, the events that occurred today shouldn’t be a common sight, as Vrabel has shown he has a knack for correcting these brand specific mistakes. That means an added sense of urgency when it comes to choking the life out of your opponent, on both sides of the ball as well.
So in terms of falling behind in this specific battle against future opponents, there shouldn’t be much in the way of concern.
Yes, the loss will indeed hurt.
But there’s still a lot of optimism moving forward. And for for the Titans, that’s something they can only ask for after a tough, unexpected loss like this one.
Featured image via George Walker-The Tennesseean