It’s a little early to say the Tennessee Titans’ season is hanging in the balance, but that’s the feeling you’d get from some fans after the week one loss to the Miami Dolphins.
And look, I get it. Starting 0-1 is never the goal for a NFL team. But 15 teams lost in week one (it should’ve been 16, but Cleveland and Pittsburgh ran out of time) and several of those teams will make the playoffs. There’s no reason the Titans can’t be one of those teams.
The Titans dealt with an almost impossible situation in week one against the Dolphins. They faced two lengthy lightning delays, lost their starting quarterback, Pro-Bowl left tackle and Pro-Bowl tight end. All while also playing without their All-Pro right tackle.
Oh, and it was Mike Vrabel’s first game ever as a head coach and Matt LaFleur’s first game ever as a NFL play caller.
I’m not making excuses for the Titans. They simply didn’t get the job done. But it would be foolish to completely ignore the adversity they dealt with last week.
A week one loss to Miami shouldn’t define Tennessee this season. Plenty of teams look bad in week one and rebound to have great seasons. The New England Patriots lost by 15 points at home to the Kansas City Chiefs to open the 2017 season, before going on to reach the Super Bowl. The Jacksonville Jaguars lost three of their first six games last year and they reached the AFC Championship game.
One game is not nearly enough information to decide what a team will be (unless that team is the Buffalo Bills, in which case a 47-3 shellacking at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens is probably enough information to determine that Buffalo is bad).
It would serve the Titans well, and ease the concerns of the fan base, for Vrabel’s squad to come out and make a statement at home against the Texans on Sunday.
The Titans are a talented team. And we saw glimpses of that against Miami.
Running back Dion Lewis is going to be a headache for opposing defensive coordinators all season. Wide receiver Corey Davis, who is being extra cautious with his previously injured hamstring, was heavily targeted against Miami (13 targets), which shows us that Mariota and the Titans coaching staff has a lot of confidence in the second year wide receiver.
Defensively, safety Kevin Byard is only getting better. He didn’t light up the box score against Miami, but he was very close to making some big plays.
Guys, Kevin Byard nearly got a pick-6 last week & haven’t seen anyone point this out.
— Austin Stanley (@AustinStanley81) September 13, 2018
The Titans have an opportunity to completely change the narrative this week. If they come out and defend their home field against Houston, it will make the conversation go from whether or not Mariota is the guy, to whether or not general manager Jon Robinson needs to get to work on his extension.
That may seem extreme, but I think we’ve all seen how quickly the mood of a NFL fan base can change.
Tennessee can quickly change the mood of the Titans fan base with a big win on Sunday.