Nov. 15, 2016
Despite frustrating losses, Titans are an improved team
It was another frustrating loss for the Tennessee Titans against the Chargers on Sunday, falling eight points short. Of the Titans' five losses, four have now been eight points or less and the team has had a chance to win or tie at the end in almost each game.
There's obvious frustration, with Marcus Mariota facing turnover issues that would result in two scores and the difference in the outcome. But despite the issues, it's hard not to say we are witnessing improvement. Marcus has been pin-point with his accuracy overall and it showed on some of his strikes to Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker. The performance was also Mariota's third of the last five games with three passing touchdowns and first 300-plus passing game of the season.
One aspect that continues to stick out for Mariota and the offense is their success in the no-huddle offense. This team once again found success towards the end of the first half but then went back to the standard game plan in the second half. While score dictated the decisions, Mike Mularkey should examine the effectiveness of the no-huddle and deploy it more. Yes, the ground game is this team's identity, but as the season wares on, teams are starting to focus on stopping DeMarco Murray, as evidenced by his 51 yard output Sunday.
Defensively, the Titans once again showed they don't play well against top quarterbacks. Luck and Rivers have carved up the secondary the last few weeks and the secondary needs obvious improvement. The key to fixing this unit's woes will come this offseason. Jon Robinson has earned all the praise he has received for putting together an offensive unit that is capable of competing each week. This coming offseason, that focus will likely shift towards the secondary, something that can be addressed in free agency. If he can do with the defense what he has done with this offense, the improvement will continue.
That's what this season has always been about..improvement. Of the Titans 13 losses last season, only six were by seven points or less. During the last four games of the 2015 season, they were outscored 127-54. There has been big improvement for this team. The culture, the talent, and the front office have all taken the right steps. Not to mention, this team finally has an offensive identity. It's a 'what have you done for me lately' league, but if you look close, this is a team doing a lot. It might be frustrating, but there is improvement. That, is something we haven't seen in recent years.