One of sports’ most well worn axioms is the notion that coaches often get fired because firing all the players who deserve it is impossible.
Like all clichés, there is an element of truth there. Good thing for members of the Tennessee Titans’ offense too.
If Sunday’s 24-10 loss to the Houston Texans proved anything, it’s that the issues on that side of the ball extend beyond just the gameplans and play calls. Based on this one, there were plenty of candidates for the chopping block.
The Titans ran 68 plays on offense to the Texans’ 70 but had an edge of 22 total yards, which translated to an average of half a yard more per play by the home team. When it came time to ‘make plays,’ though, Tennessee came up woefully short.
Most notably, the Titans scored only one touchdown, which rarely is going to be good enough in the NFL. Three straight second-half possessions got inside the Houston 35 but only one resulted in points.
Dowell Loggains, who replaced Chris Palmer on Monday as the guy in charge of that unit, had nothing to do with the fact that Jake Locker had a handful of balls batted down at the line of scrimmage or that so many – particularly early – that did get down the field ultimately were off the mark. Locker was a dreadful 8-for-22 with two interceptions in the first two quarters.
Once Locker finally got dialed in somewhere after halftime, his receivers played as if they had checked out. Dropped passes suddenly became a problem, none more disheartening than the back-to-back throws to rookie Kendall Wright on consecutive plays – third and fourth down, no less – when the Titans had a chance to get within one score.
“When Jake got it going a little bit, then we dropped the football,” coach Mike Munchak said. “Can’t do it.”
Chris Johnson set the stage for another big day when he ripped off a 26-yard run on his second carry. After that, he carried just 11 more times for 22 yards and lost a costly fumble as he disappeared behind a line battered by injuries. Don’t overlook the fact that offensive line penalties negated a 28-yard Locker run and a 21-yard Jared Cook reception either.
It was assumed that the depth up front was a strength of this team. Now, it’s anything but clear that’s the case given that Locker, who had been sacked five times all season, went down six times in just these four quarters.
In short, the consistency that the Titans wanted to create with the coordinator swap was nonexistent in the first go-round. Thus they fell to 4-8 on the season, 0-4 in the division and out of all but the most unlikely playoff scenarios.
That means they’re ready to turn to another of the game’s most tired phrases: Guys are now playing for their jobs. Again, though, there is some truth there.
Franchise officials couldn’t fire everyone on offense this week so Munchak simply axed Palmer.
They can’t possibly think that what they saw Sunday was good enough, just as was the case with the first 11 contests, though, and there is an offseason coming. That’s when the personnel department can – and will – change some of the players. Maybe a lot of them. Probably not all of them, although there’s little reason for any to feel comfortable at this point.
“It was tough game, a frustrating game,” Munchak said. “That’s why we are 4-8, we can’t make enough plays to win when we have an opportunity to do it.”
They took the opportunity to make a coaching change a week ago. Now it seems certain they can’t wait to make even more moves.