The dismal and abysmal season of the Tennessee Titans, the worst since coming to Tennessee, is now mercifully entering the final quarter. The Titans stand 2-10, on a six-game losing streak, in the race for the #1-pick.
The third quarter of the Titans’ season was a complete loss: 21-7 in Baltimore; 27-24 to Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football; 43-24 in Philadelphia; and total embarrassment stage redefined in a 45-21 loss in Houston, actually allowing six touchdown passes to Ryan Fitzpatrick. The season wraps up with visits from the also pitiful New York teams: the 3-9 Giants; and 2-10 Jets, followed by what is sure to be riveting television on Thursday Night Football in Jacksonville against the currently 2-10 Jaguars; and the season finale against the sure-to-be division winning Colts at LP Field.
The negatives are well chronicled, and too numerous to list them all here. The fact is that nothing is working within the entire organization as it should be, as you want it to be, as you need it to be, or as it has to be. From the top to the bottom it is complete failure.
However if you try, you can find some encouraging signs, not the least of which is rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger. The Titans may have a keeper in this kid, too early to know and that leads to the conundrum. With this team headed for a top-three pick, do they put faith in Mettenberger or draft a prime prospect such as Oregon QB and likely Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota?
Mettenberger led the team on an opening drive that took more than half the first quarter in Baltimore, only to be betrayed by mysterious coaching—and the butterfingers of Shonn Greene. After a first-play pick-six allowed against Pittsburgh, Mettenberger was brilliant in leading the Titans to a 24-13 lead. Once again, mysterious coaching decisions played a bigger role in the team’s downfall that night. The punt on fourth-and-short with seven minutes to play was a fine idea!
Staggered by an opening kickoff return touchdown against, Mettenberger showed great heart and leadership qualities in fighting the Titans back to respectability before the defense’s total collapse was complete. His weakest two games in this league have been the two against the Texans, the deplorable offensive line a bigger culprit than he. No discernable plan was even present in trying to maybe slow down the Texans’ J.J. Watt, even a little bit, in either game.
So far, Mettenberger has completed 60% of his passes for 1,287 yards with eight touchdowns, to go with six interceptions and a respectable passer rating of 87.8. All of those numbers are an upgrade over those of Jake Locker, in a comparable number of snaps. Mettenberger did suffer a shoulder injury this past Sunday, but is expected to be ready to play against the Giants this week.
The one and only thing to watch these last four games for, other than love of football, is the growth of Zach Mettenberger. Call me cautiously optimistic, but the Titans may have a player here. Another misevaluation is another mistake this franchise cannot make.