The Tennessee Titans have been busy in free agency.
Most notably, running back DeMarco Murray was the first of eight Titans to be released. Murray was still considered the Titans #1 RB in 2017 although he had shoulder, foot, and knee injuries. He missed the last regular season game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Veteran quarterback Matt Cassel was released on March 9th. He started just one game for the Titans last year, which ended up being a loss to the Miami Dolphins. Although the Titans have contracts with quarterbacks Alex Tanney and Tyler Ferguson, it was rumored that the team was interested in another veteran QB Chad Henne, who ended up signing with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Hopes were high for the Tennessee Titans. They were relishing the “underdog” role against the number one seed New England Patriots and were confident after getting an upset victory last week against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Titans players were quoted in the press saying “it’s our time”. They were confident in their quarterback, Marcus Mariota, insinuating that the Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady might be past his prime and due for a fall from the NFL throne.
At the beginning of the game, it looked like the Titans had a good chance to beat the Patriots; the Titans were first to score late in the first quarter when Mariota threw a 15-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Corey Davis for a touchdown. It was Davis’ first NFL touchdown, a one-handed catch that got the Titans on the board and it felt like a breakthrough for the Titans first-round draft pick. Finally, during a playoff game, Davis made a big play. The glee didn’t last for long as the Patriots were able to score on their next possession and even the score.
The first half of the game belonged to the Kansas City Chiefs. They scored on a touchdown by Chiefs’ running back Kareem Hunt, who ran the ball in from the one-yard line. They scored another TD when tight end Travis Kelce caught a 14-yard pass from quarterback Alex Smith. Not a good start for the Tennessee Titans.
Titans’ quarterback Marcus Mariota was leading a good drive during the second quarter until he threw an interception to cornerback Marcus Peters; Titans head coach Mike Mularkey later stated that it was Titan wide receiver Corey Davis’ fault as Davis didn’t run his route correctly. The Titans have had this “miscommunication” and “execution” problem throughout this season. It has frustrated the coaches and the fans and has lead to much speculation about the security of the coaching positions in Tennessee.
Throughout the past two weeks, there has been a lot of rumblings in the press and on social media about head coach Mike Mularkey’s job security. The Tennessee Titans lost three games in a row. Most of the wins this year have been determined to be “ugly wins” and most of the games have been low scoring or “boring”.
When the press asked Mularkey if he felt that he was close to losing his job if he didn’t make the playoffs, he responded: “I haven’t had support to say I was (secure). I just assumed the worst”. The press conference video of this exchange was heartbreaking, Mularkey was quite emotional when questioned about his job security. Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk has addressed the situation with this statement:
Today’s playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs will be Mike Mularkey’s first playoff game as head coach. This AFC wildcard game will be played at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs (10-6) have three main weapons in the form of tight end Travis Kelce, running back Kareem Hunt and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs also will have home field advantage and a veteran quarterback in Alex Smith, who will be well rested coming into this game. The Chiefs had rookie quarterback PatrickMahomes II in as their starter last week.
Coach Mularkey had this to say about playing at Arrowhead: “Tough place to play. Good football team. We played them there last year in another close game, so we’re not as familiar playing them this year.”
There’s a QB who wears red and gold looking for a new home next season and based on Blake Bortles play yesterday, he may have his agent taking calls from Dave Caldwell.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have everything a veteran Quarterback could want–no state tax, cheap cost of living, a great defense, an owner, General Manager and Vice President of Player Personnel among the best, plus a stable of talent on offense. Not to mention good coaches.
That loss wasn’t all on Bortles. The run game, which has been pretty good all season, was stymied, something that was a concern going into Nashville. Cam Robinson‘s absence also caused Bortles to face a lot of pressure and when that occurs, good things don’t happen. Not to mention, while the backup receivers have done a solid job after the top three went down, the Jaguars are going to need Marquise Lee to return. There were too many drops yesterday, including one in the end zone.
Being on the road has not been kind to the Tennessee Titans. When the team left Nashville two weeks ago, they were at the top of the AFC South. After a loss to the Arizona Cardinals last week and to the San Francisco 49ers this week, the Titans are now second behind the Jacksonville Jaguars who have two consecutive wins.
It stings, it hurts. What hurts even more, is that Arizona and San Francisco have been having rough seasons with tons of injuries. They were considered teams that should be “easy to beat”. The Titans are making these easy to beat teams look good, unfortunately.
It came down to the last minute of the game, but the Tennessee Titans eked out another win at home. Running back DeMarco Murray had three touchdowns this game. He had a seven yard TD catch from quarterback Marcus Mariota with only 36 seconds left in the fourth quarter. That sealed the victory for Tennessee.
Murray showed his pro form by keeping his knees off the ground and stretching to reach into the end zone and get that touchdown. It was a thing of beauty. Murray also scored on the Titan’s opening possession. It was the first TD on an opening drive for the team since Week 1 against the Raiders and the fifth game that the Titans were able to score on the first drive. This fan is very grateful that Murray had a fantastic game.
The Titans are back from their bye week with a victory at Nissan Stadium against the Baltimore Ravens. Also back from extended recovery periods were safety Johnathan Cyprien and wide receiver Corey Davis, who both had been out with hamstring injuries.
So far, this entire Titans season it has seemed like something is missing. The Titans are barely squeaking by with wins. If you thought the return of Cyprien and Davis would make a huge difference, you were wrong (or is it just me thinking that way?) Davis made a spectacular catch with some toe drag swag, catching a 23-yard pass from quarterback Marcus Mariota. Cyprien was part of the Titans defense that did not allow a completion of 20 or more yards.
It was not a fun game to watch and certainly not a game any NFL fan would want to have extended into overtime. Neither the Cleveland Browns or the Tennessee Titans were able to score a touchdown; it was a boring battle of the field goals.
This seems to be reminiscent of last week’s Titans game against the Indianapolis Colts. At least Tennesee came alive during the fourth quarter and scored 3 touchdowns for that game. But, there were no great scoring drives to end this week’s game, just another field goal in OT to give the Titans the victory.
Kicker Ryan Succop aka “Mr. Automatic“ had four field goals this game, clinching the win in OT with a 47 yard kick. He did have one missed attempt in the fourth quarter from 53 yards out. Succop did extend his NFL-for-consecutive-made-field-goals within 50 yards, his record is now 55.
The other bright star for the Titans was safety Kevin Byard with three, count ‘em, three interceptions off of two different Browns’ quarterbacks. Byard picked off rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer in the second and third quarters and QB Cody Kessler in the fourth.