Tennessee Titans: The NFL’s version of Ferris Bueller
Who hasn’t heard the phrase when it comes when discussing something ad-nauseam that someone turns to you and explains that you “sound like a broken record.” You know. Vinyl? Turntable? 33 1/3 speed?
Of course, records aren’t really around for the most part anymore. And on a different vein, records are meant to be broken. And that’s exactly what the Tennessee Titans are likely hoping for this season in terms of snapping their recent streak of identical 9-7 finishes.
That’s four, as in four consecutive 9-7 showings for the team from Nashville. The first two came in 2016 and ’17 under head coach Mike Mularkey. It was the second that resulted in a wild card berth for the Titans, who could manage a comeback win over the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in the first round before succumbing to the Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Playoffs.
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Mike Vrabel took over as the team’s sideline leader in 2018 but it wasn’t until his second year on the job that Tennessee returned to the playoffs. They would make one helluva run as the club overcame a 2-4 start by winning seven of their final 10 contests to finish second behind the Houston Texans in the AFC South. Then came road upsets of the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens in the wild card and divisional rounds, respectively. And Vrabel’s club had a double-digit lead at Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game before bowing to the eventual Super Bowl LIV champions.
The main catalysts for the team’s turnaround in ’19 were NFL Comeback Player of the Year Ryan Tannehill and league rushing champion Derrick Henry. Both were rewarded with handsome contract extensions this offseason and each looks to build on last season’s success. Yes, the Tennessee defense didn’t play a part in the club’s revival. Veteran cornerback Logan Ryan had an amazing year for the club, but he’s no longer with the Titans and signed with the New York Giants this offseason. General manager Jon Robinson recently inked 2014 first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney to a one-year deal. He spent 2019 with the Seattle Seahawks and now looks to terrorize the division he began his NFL career with six years ago.
As the team prepares to meet the Broncos in Denver on Monday night, it’s a potentially big year for this franchise. And as the Titans have found out, nine wins doesn’t guarantee you a playoff spot. The club hasn’t won at least 10 games as well as a division title since finishing 13-3 in 2008 when they owned the league’s best record. In any case, now would be a good time for Vrabel’s team to build on their strong stretch and prove they aren’t just an occasional one-hit-wonder.