How do you lose a game when you're a heavy favorite and playing a much worse team, the way the Tennessee Titans were today against the Jacksonville Jaguars in a game that ended a 29-27 Jacksonville victory? Let's see.
1. You turn the ball over early, giving your opponent good field position they're able to cash in for a touchdown. Check, as Chris Johnson's fumble gave the Jaguars the ball in the red zone and set up a Maurice Jones-Drew touchdown.
2. When you get good field position, you don't take advantage of it. Check, as two Chad Henne interceptions that gave the Titans the ball inside the Jacksonville 30 became 3 points between a three-and-kick and a bad exchange between Chris Johnson and Jake Locker.
3. Your nominal best players don't have good games. Check, as a week after Chris Johnson managed 150 yards and two touchdowns against a defense that had been good at times he finishes with 12 carries for 30 yards, those fumbles, and at least one drop against a bad Jaguars defense. Jake Locker was awful, going 4-9 for 24 yards and a bad interception before leaving the game with a right foot injury that seems likely to keep him out of at least Thursday's game against Indianapolis.
4. You let the other team score points when you're snapping the ball. Check, as a Chance Warmack holding penalty gave the Jaguars a safety and a Ryan Fitzpatrick fumble-sack gave the Jaguars the clinching TD to make it 29-20 with 2:32 to play.
5. You play like you believe all you have to do is play the game you want to play, instead of taking control of the game early by taking some risks. Check, as the Titans ran the ball early, often, and ineffectively in racing out to a 10-0 deficit.
6. You fail to convert in key situations. Check, as the Titans had drives that ended in kicks following third-and-3, third-and-2, third-and-1, and third-and-3.
Add them all up, and more mistakes I didn't mention, and you get one horrible loss to a dreadful team.
I think pathetic is the right word. And sad really. It was going to be tough for the Titans to get enough wins this year to make the playoffs, and the two games against a seriously inferior team like the Jaguars were "must wins". With yesterday's loss, the best this team will do this year is 8-8. They are certainly not beating the Colts twice or the Broncos, and with Fitz in there they will be in tough against the Jaguars when they face them again in 6 weeks.
There is something wrong with the coaching staff on this team. Even a moderately capable staff finds a way to win these kinds of games against the worst teams in the league. The Titans haven't been able to do that. It is time for the Head Coach and most of his coaching staff to be let go. Perhaps, if the team is blown out by the Colts on Thursday, Tommy Smith will make that decision sooner rather than later.
As for the QB of the future, I guess come next May's draft, the Titans will have to see if they can find a franchise quarterback. Locker looks like he is made of glass. Even if the Titans were confident that he had the skill-set to succeed (and that's a big "if"), they simply cannot put the future of the franchise on the shoulders of a guy who has had 3 major injuries in the past year and a half.
I have Munchak do #5 way too many times in his short career. I honestly don't understand what's going on with this team. They act like they're scared to let Locker pass although he did not have a turnover/interception his first four games and threw all over Rex's vaunted defense. And then, they'll run CJ to death behind an O-Line (coached by two HOF'ers) that's getting constantly blown off the ball. Munchak has become another Jeff FIsher.
Tom, what do you make of all this?
@Joshua C Locker hasn't been very good in his return from injury. The Titans spent this entire offseason building their offense around a way that minimizes the QB, and that's the way they wanted to play. Against the Jaguars, they thought playing like that would be good enough to win. It wasn't with the mistakes they made. Do they abandon what they've tried to do, and spent a lot of money preparing to do, and is the strategy they think is best? That can be a hard bridge for some people to cross, especially when you have the opportunity to show what you believed was right after all. Thus, a loss.
Also, who cares if somebody played a position when it comes to coaching? I don't, and plenty of good position coaches, coordinators, and head coaches never played the game after college, let alone professionally at a high level. Can he teach technique and the skills needed for the position? I don't think we've seen anything from Bruce Matthews (to pick him) that says he's particularly good at that.
So, if there plan was to not rely on Locker's throwing, then why - when he left with injury - did they send Fitzpatrick out there - the turnover king - slinging the ball all over the place (to be fair, he did well this game but the two others?)?
I just don't get it. And by the way, I agree with your remark about the two HOF coaches. I mentioned them because the announcers were going on and on about how the two really know how to coach up a line.