For the third straight year, the Tennessee Titans will end their season with a 9-7 record. They entered Sunday night’s game against the Colts with hopes to earn their second consecutive postseason berth. However, missing key pieces, the team made too many mistakes and could not dig themselves out of the hole they dug. Tennessee now looks forward to their second season under Mike Vrabel and a possible return to the playoffs in 2019.
Andrew Luck Starts Hot
The Titans fell into a hole early in the game as both of the Colts’ first two offensive possessions ended in touchdowns. Even worse, both of these drives started inside the Colts’ 10-yard line. Falling behind 14-0 was too much for the Titans’ offense led by Blaine Gabbert. Luck and the Colts weren’t nearly as effective over the rest of the game against the Titans’ defense. However, that cushion in the first two drives was enough to keep the Titans from ever really getting close in this one.
Blaine Gabbert Struggles
Gabbert did not have his best day. He made throws throughout the day that gave hope that he may be able to manage this game. However, there were many throws that cost the Titans big plays and killed drives. The worst of which was the interception in the fourth quarter when Tennessee was within one possession. The Titans had all of the momentum, but the pendulum swung back to Indianapolis for good after that turnover. Gabbert’s time in Nashville may be short-lived. His mistakes almost surely cost Tennessee a playoff berth. The Titans need someone backing up Marcus Mariota who can manage the game when he can’t go.
Marcus Mariota Sidelined
Early Sunday morning, the news broke that Mariota would most likely not be able to play in the game. This set off a reaction from many “fans” saying that he was soft and was choosing not to play. Some even called for the Titans to move on from him in the offseason. These people need to really think about how this team has played with and without Mariota. He is the only quarterback in franchise history to lead the team to three consecutive winning seasons and he has led game-winning drives repeatedly throughout his time in Nashville.
Mariota has fought through injuries every year and has proven his toughness every single game. He blocks linebackers and fights for first downs. He is not soft. Injury-prone? Possibly. However, everyone knows that if it was up to Marcus Mariota, he would have played. He could have risked career-threatening injury last night to play, but nobody wanted that. Mariota needs a healthy season next year to see if he truly is the franchise quarterback. However, as of now, he has earned the right to still be the guy despite not playing in the Titans’ final game.
Jayon Brown Flashes Greatness
If anything came out of the game on Sunday night, it is that Jayon Brown looks like a star. He single-handedly kept the Titans in the game in the second quarter. First, he intercepted Andrew Luck and took it back for a touchdown. Then, he broke up a pass on third-down to force a punt. Finally, after Adoree Jackson muffed a punt inside the ten, Brown forced and recovered a fumble. Brown was the star for Tennessee last night and he will be fun to watch alongside Rashaan Evans for years to come.
The Titans will look forward to the 2019 offseason to fill some holes on this roster. They have about $44 million in cap space which is a little more than average. Tennessee will most likely be conservative in free agency and look to pick up impact players in the draft. The future of this team is still bright. With a few more pieces and healthy year next season, the Titans should be right back in the playoff mix.