Well, I’m still sick to my stomach about Saturday.
The Tennessee Titans took a horrific loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the divisional round of the playoffs almost entirely thanks to total incompetence on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was certainly a major contributing factor to this monumental failure but in the wake of the loss, much of the attention (and ire) of Titans fans has turned to offensive coordinator Todd Downing.
Downing had a less than stellar season in his first year as OC for the Titans. He dealt with an abundance of injuries but Tennessee’s offense took a step back in multiple categories even before many of the injuries with Downing at the helm. And not much improved (and it arguably somehow got worse) with almost everyone back healthy in the Bengals game.
And if you need any convincing that Downing definitely stinks, just watch this video breakdown of his elementary school-level coaching.
But regardless of the fairly clear 18 games of evidence that Downing is not particularly good at his job, it sounds like he will likely be keeping his post. On Monday, head coach Mike Vrabel said “I think Todd does a great job… I love the relationship Todd has with the assistant coaches and we’ll all continue to improve.”
As ill as it makes me to think that Downing might still be running this offense in 2022, I’m not the head coach or GM, so what I think doesn’t matter much. But, being the masochistic Vols and Titans combo fan that I am, I couldn’t help but notice an unfortunate similarity between Downing’s failure and a past UT team.
In 2016, bumbling moron Butch Jones had a stacked squad with Alvin Kamara, Marquez Calloway, Derek Barnett, Jauan Jennings, Jalen Hurd, and Josh Dobbs all on the same roster. They began the season 5-0 and beat both Florida and Georgia. They were a lock for the SEC Championship game and at minimum a Sugar Bowl. But then… they lost to Texas A&M, Alabama, and South Carolina and blew their shot at an SEC East title. Then, with a bid to the Sugar Bowl still on the line, Butch put a beautiful cherry on top of the disappointment and lost to Vanderbilt in the final game of the regular season.
I’ve been dejected as a Tennessee fan plenty of times but this was right near the top in terms of pain. And I couldn’t avoid having flashbacks as I watched Downing fumble around with generational talent like Derrick Henry, AJ Brown, and Julio Jones and punch us all right in the gut. I had seen that story before and it didn’t end too well for Butch Jones.
And on that note, here’s another not-so-great similarity that could come to fruition if Vrabel actually keeps Downing:
While Butch ultimately got fired by Tennessee, they kept his idiocy around one year too long until 2017 and he ended up driving the program directly into the ground. UT is still digging out of the hole he created 5 years later. So, here’s a message to Mike Vrabel to PLEASE learn from the Vols’ horrendous mistakes…
Don’t keep Downing around and let him ruin one of the few remaining years of a Super Bowl-level roster. It’s all there for the Titans right now and with a competent coach running the offense, maybe they could finally get over the hump and win a world championship.
Or they could keep Downing and potentially end up like Tennessee with Butch Jones. Seems like a pretty easy choice to me.
Featured images via Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports and Michael Patrick/NEWS SENTINEL