Those who know me would say I'm generally a glass-half-full person — which is why my inability to find many positives from the 0-2 start for the Titans is so troubling.
It’s not just that they had their lunch money taken in San Diego Sunday, one week after the Patriots had their way with the Titans in Nashville. Those are talented football teams whose strengths appear to match where the Titans are currently most vulnerable.
Problem is, Tennessee’s gauntlet to begin the season doesn’t let up, with the Lions, who, like the Patriots and Chargers will look to exploit the Titans’ reeling secondary, coming to town in Week Three, before the Texans, who just obliterated Tennessee in the only game that mattered between the two teams in 2011, play host to the Titans the following week.
Unfortunately, I’m having a hard time envisioning a scenario where this club doesn’t open the season 0-4. With the gap between the Texans and the rest of the division as large as it is, that would likely mean curtains for the 2012 season.
Let’s pretend for a moment that this scenario is where the Titans are headed. We’re then going to quickly find out a lot about still-green head coach Mike Munchak and his staff. In his first year on the job, Munchak was rather resistant to change. But he received the benefit of the doubt because his club exceeded expectations.
However, that benefit of the doubt will be gone before Munchak knows it if the season quickly gets away from his club. I wrote yesterday that he should already be considering changes. I think it’s reasonable to expect that Munchak at least explores all of his available options in the backfield, especially with backup Javon Ringer getting closer to making his 2012 debut. Neither Ringer nor Jamie Harper scratches the surface of being as dynamic a player as Chris Johnson, but maybe Johnson will gain something from watching another back run hard, regardless of the openings in front of him.
We saw last season Munchak's reluctance to tinker with a struggling offensive line, run by his best friend and fellow Hall of Famer, OL coach Bruce Matthews. Failing to address the issue a second straight season could be damning for Munchak.
I would argue that even greater problems exist on defense. Not only is the unit's best playmaker, MLB Colin McCarthy, not close to getting back in the lineup, but can someone explain to me what S Jordan Babineaux and nickel corner Tommie Campbell did to deserve losing their jobs? Blaming a porous pass rush for the issues on the back end doesn’t hold water this week, as the Titans got after Philip Rivers a bit Sunday. No, the coverage issues far surpassed a lack of pressure, and the Lions and Texans present similar problems for the Titans. At what point do Munchak and defensive coordinator Jerry Gray essentially indict themselves by going back to Babineaux, in turn putting Michael Griffin back where he belongs in centerfield, and giving Campbell a fair shot? I'm not saying this is the solution — just that it's not too soon to find out.
It appears things could get worse before they get better for the Titans this season. Let’s hope Munchak and his staff can at least say they tried everything before that happens.