I came across this interesting tweet from a Minneapolis-based Associated Press sports writer named Jon Krawczynski. It caught my attention before the game. It held my attention throughout the game. As a Tennessee Titans fan, I don't understand what has happened to this team in such a short time.
In 2011, the Titans introduced a new coaching staff. Mike Munchak was promoted from offensive line coach to head coach. Chris Palmer was hired as an offensive coordinator. Palmer was previously a head coach in the United Football League. Jerry Gray was hired as a defensive coordinator. Gray was previously a defensive backs coach for the Texas Longhorns.
The Titans never had an offseason. That's because of the NFL lockout. After the lockout ended in late July, Matt Hasselbeck was signed. This meant that he didn't learn the playbook or develop chemistry with his receivers during the lockout. Chris Johnson missed the entire preseason. Kenny Britt appeared in three games. Barrett Ruud started the season at middle linebacker. The Titans had one of the NFL's youngest and most-inexperienced defenses.
The Titans overcame all of these obstacles en route to a 9-7 record. With that said, they had some peculiar sequences in their schedule. After losing to a Luke McCown-led Jacksonville Jaguars team, the Titans beat the Baltimore Ravens. After they nearly beat the New Orleans Saints, the Indianapolis Colts dominated them. The Colts entered that game with a 0-13 record.
Let's fast forward to 2012. The coaching staff and players were together for their first offseason. The Titans added a couple defensive linemen, most notably Kamerion Wimbley and Mike Martin. They replaced Jake Scott with Steve Hutchinson. They replaced Eugene Amano with Fernando Velasco. They didn't re-sign Cortland Finnegan. Since the Jaguars and Colts are in rebuilding mode, it seemed like the Titans would finish no worse than second in the AFC South.
That's not the case. The Titans have started the season with their fourth blowout loss in five games. The Titans lost 30-7 to the Minnesota Vikings. The Titans' only touchdown occurred in the fourth quarter. The Vikings were playing a soft defense because they led 23-0. The Vikings out-gained the Titans in total yardage, 433 to 267. The Titans were penalized 10 times. For the fifth time, they were dominated in time-of-possession. Chris Johnson had 15 rushes for 24 yards.
Through five games, the Titans have been outscored 181-88. They're reportedly the first team to surrendered 30-plus points in each of their first five games since 1954. The Titans have lost four of their five games by at least 21 points. One of those losses was a home game. Another loss was a divisional rivalry.
For the most part, the Titans have the same team. They have the same coaching staff. The players are one year older. They should be one-year better. The players have had an entire season to learn the playbooks and schemes. The closest thing they had to an offseason ruckus was with Peyton Manning. That lasted about one week.
Here's my point: if the Titans were 9-7 with all that they went through in 2011, then how are they so pathetic in 2012? It's not that they're losing; it's that they're getting dominated. Even in victory, they're getting embarrassed. The Titans aren't playing like a competitive football team. Nowhere near it.
The defense can't tackle. The running game is non-existent. The offensive line is in shambles. The receivers can't catch. Linebackers can't cover tight ends. The defensive line can't pressure the quarterback. The secondary rarely force turnovers. Players keep making foolish comments to the media. Coach Munchak defends those comments. Jerry Gray "Threatens" opponents with the Gator truck. Yet, his play-calling will eventually earn him the nickname "Jerry Vanilla."
And Coach Munchak? He's a nice guy. That's awesome. However, what does he offer as a head coach? He's not a tactician. He's not a motivator. He rarely shows emotion. He's slow to make adjustments. When there's a problem, he just keeps at it until it works. Of course, if it's a problem, then it will never work without the proper adjustments.
Other than the offensive line, I don't know what Munchak specializes in. Whatever it is, it's not leading to wins. It's not leading to a competitive team. It's not leading to football that fans should see on Sunday.
The Titans host the Pittsburgh Steelers during Thursday Night Football on October 11. Some Titans fans would've accepted a 1-5 record if that one win came against Pittsburgh. The Titans have to win this game. They don't dare get blown out in front of their own fans again.
Not against Pittsburgh.
Joshua Huffman graduated from Middle Tennessee State University as a marketing major in 2009. He's been a Middle Tennessee resident from 1986-88 and 2001-present. He lived in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin from 1988-01 and for approximately eight months in 2009-10 as he completed a 20-game volunteer position with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers. His favorite sports organizations include the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs, Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans. He can be found on Twitter HERE.
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