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The Titans are who we thought they were

By now, everyone has seen video footage of former Arizona head coach Dennis Green’s famous tirade after an improbable comeback defeat to the Bears during the 2006 season. For those who’ve missed it, the impromptu display of frustration by Green has since become the subject of a Coors Light commercial that is aired often during NFL broadcasts.
“They are who we thought they were” can also be appropriately applied to the plight of the 2007 Tennessee Titans. The same tendencies, good and bad, that became trademarks of this year’s Titan squad were highly evident in yesterday’s 17-6 playoff defeat to the Chargers.

First, let’s start with the good. The Titans are distinctively known as a resilient bunch. They have overcome their share of adversity of this season, beginning with the year long suspension of Adam “PacMan” Jones, a three game losing streak during the start of the season’s second half and finally, a devastating home overtime loss to the Chargers that almost destroyed their hopes of making the playoffs.
Despite the inability of the offense to move the football, the defensive unit persevered as they attempted to ward off an explosive San Diego offensive arsenal. Holding perhaps the league’s best running back to a meager two yards per carry on the afternoon is an impressive accomplishment, as the Titans consistently closed holes that LaDainian Tomlinson usually sails through. Unfortunately for Tennessee, “the LaDainian Leap” on fourth and goal served as the dagger that ended the Titans’ bid to advance to the next round of the postseason.
On the opposite end of the spectrum was the performance of the offense. The same problems that have plagued the Titans’ offense this season were also a thorn in the side during yesterday’s defeat. The running game churned out a solid performance in the first half as the Titan offensive line pummeled opposing Charger defensive linemen that stood in its relentless path.
Despite the early success of the running game, the Titans failed in their opportunities to score touchdowns in the red zone, as they continued this season’s recurring theme of settling for Rob Bironas field goals. As the Titans have found out all season, it takes touchdowns to defeat the league’s better teams.
The Titans fought hard but unfortunately, they came up short in their first postseason appearance since 2003. The team continues to be an embodiment of their head coach Jeff Fisher: they play tough, physical football for 60 minutes and almost always give their best effort. That aspect of the team’s identity must survive as the Titans continue their development.
However, in order for the Titans to reach their potential and rejoin the league’s elite, a new identity must emerge. Instead of being a team that is offensively challenged, management must go out and secure the services of playmakers at the skill positions that can get into the end zone.
An influx of talent on offense will go a long way towards enabling the Titans to transform into the team we think they can become in the future.