It's been a forgettable last several weeks for the Tennessee Titans.
After starting off the season 5-2 and earning the status of seemingly everyone's favorite darkhorse Super Bowl contender, the Titans have stumbled a bit, losing four games in a row and finding themselves sitting in the basement of the competitive AFC South.
Let's take a look at four key reasons behind the Titans' current four-game losing streak.
Missing Kenny Britt
One of the biggest developments in the Titans' 5-2 start was the emergence of second-year WR Kenny Britt.
After suffering through a nightmarish offseason/preseason, Britt finally started to step up when it mattered the most: during the regular season. Britt caught touchdown passes in each of his last five games prior to his hamstring injury, including a memorable three TD, seven-catches for 225 yards breakout performance against Philadelphia.
I don't think it's a coincidence that the Titans have lost each contest (including the San Diego game, when Britt injured himself early in the first half) since Britt's departure from the lineup. Britt's absence may not be the biggest reason behind the Titans' recent struggles (more to come in the following paragraphs) but coping without the presence of the team's emerging #1 WR certainly hasn't helped.
Musical chairs at QB
The situation at the quarterback position is another reason that can be attributed to the Titans' four-game losing streak.
A combination of injuries, inconsistency and ill-fated controversies have all contributed to the team's instability at QB over the last four games. We've witnessed the whole Vince Young saga, Kerry Collins going in and out of the lineup due to injury and poor Rusty Smith being overwhelmed in his first NFL action.
With VY done for the year and Rusty clearly not ready to take over the reins, we'll be tuning in to the "The Kerry Collins Show" for the remainder of 2010, unless the injury bug rears its ugly head once again. Hopefully, "The Game Manager" can bring some level of stability to the QB position as the Titans try to compete for a playoff spot over the next several weeks.
Where's the pressure?
Sacking opposing signal-callers was a big part of the team's 5-2 start. Led by the unlikely DE duo of Jason Babin and David Ball, the Titans were constantly getting pressure on quarterbacks, which led to a litany of turnovers (more on that later).
During the course of the team's four-game losing streak, the sacks have mostly disappeared. After notching 25 takedowns during their 5-2 start, the Titans have only amassed a total of 7 sacks over the last four games.
The injury-bug certainly hasn't helped as of late, with the team coping with several injuries on the defensive line in recent weeks. I think you're also seeing the impact felt by losing promising first-rounder Derrick Morgan to an early season-ending ACL tear, who certainly would have been a big help if he was still healthy.
Lack of turnovers
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, pressuring quarterbacks played a key role in the team's ability to create a slew of turnovers during their 5-2 start. Unfortunately, as the sacks have decreased, the rate of creating turnovers has also been on a downward spiral.
During the team's first seven games, the Titans accumulated a total of 18 turnovers. In four consecutive losses, the team has only forced a grand total of 3 takeways.
Whether they've been winning or losing, the Titans have been a bend-but-don't break unit on defense. They've given up their share of yards but during their winning ways, the unit has displayed a knack for creating just enough pressure and getting enough takeaways to contribute to victory. However, it's no coincidence that when the team is unable to get consistent pressure and force turnovers, the losses have started to pile up.
Therefore, of the reasons mentioned above, I consider the final two as the biggest culprits behind the team's recent woes.