In every corner of the Tennessee Titans’ locker room after Saturday’s 13-10 divisional playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the sentiment was the same.
Talk of an opportunity lost, having blown the No. 1 seed in the AFC Playoffs, thanks to three turnovers, and of how next season there were no guarantees of having the same chance again.
“It’s frustrating because you played winning football and you beat yourself, and they didn’t beat you,” safety Chris Hope said. “All the dreams you had at the beginning of the year just go down the drain. You don’t have the same team next year, and nothing is guaranteed.”
Not even for the Titans’ roster to be the same. Several key free agents’ future with the Titans hang in the balance, most notably, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, quarterback Kerry Collins, kicker Rob Bironas and tight end Bo Scaife.
“There’s always next year, but it’s going to be a long road and now you’ve got to start from scratch,” cornerback Nick Harper said. “It’s hard to get to this position. Other teams are going to make some changes, and we’re going to make some changes. It’s going to be a long hard journey to get back.”
Harper was vocal in saying that some things have to change to prevent a relapse like the one Saturday night from happening again.
“There’s things that need to happen with this team in order for us to get in that situation [winning it all],” Harper said. “It all starts at practice. You have to practice like you’re going to play in the game. You definitely have to practice like game situations, and until that happens, this might continue to happen.”
Who Harper’s message was directed to wasn’t clear, but the results have become recurrent for the Titans. Since their Super Bowl run in the 1999 playoffs, Tennessee is just 2-5 in postseason games, and has blown a pair of No. 1 seeds in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher acknowledged the similarity of Saturday’s loss to the one in 2000 against the Ravens.
“You think I feel good right now?” Fisher said. “This is a difficult loss for this team, the fans, and there was a great deal of hope and excitement. There’s nothing I can tell them in that room that can make them feel better right now. This thing is going to linger and last, and we’ll overcome it. We met some of our goals, and obviously we fell short here this afternoon. As far as comparing it to 2000, yeah, same teams, probably the same situation but different players.”
When they took the field, the Titans had hope to exorcise those demons of playoff losses past, especially the one to the Ravens eight years before. Instead, they only added to the frustration.
Jevon Kearse, who was part of both losses, put it into perspective with an honest assessment of the sitaution.
“[Friday] in the team meeting, we talked about a chance to make a team legacy today, but we let it get away,” Kearse said.
Perhaps a legacy was made, just not the legacy the Titans would have preferred.
Schwartz interview: Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will interview for a second time with the Detroit Lions on Monday, according to sources.
Schwartz had an interview with the Lions during the bye week before Tennessee’s divisional playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens, and apparently has a decent chance of securing the job with the Lions, who are coming off the NFL’s first 0-16 season.
Schwartz has been with the Titans since 1999 and has been Tennessee’s defensive coordinator since 2001.
His defense this season was ranked second in the league in points allowed.
Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is also in contention for the Lions’ job.
The Lions could also interview New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, whose team was also eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday as well.
If Schwartz gets the job in Detroit, the Titans would likely look at one of three candidates, including a pair of in-house choices as a potential replacement. Those include linebackers coach Dave McGinnis, secondary coach Chuck Cecil and former Titans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.