Once again, the Tennessee Titans botched a matchup against one of the league's worst teams. Since the Mike Munchak era began, the Titans have lost to the 0-13 Indianapolis Colts in 2011, they were one of two teams to lose to the 2012 Jaguars, and we all know what happened yesterday.
When asked why the Titans have accounted for three of the Jaguars' eight wins in the last three seasons, he had this to say to Titansonline:
I don’t know. It’s a division game. We lost to them down there and losing to them at home makes it harder. We know it’s a game (we should win) if you play well, but if you don’t do that on Sunday, you lose. I think our defense gave them 10 points, the rest of it was sloppy. I thought we were going to get out of it in the fourth quarter; we didn’t.
A win would have put the Titans in position to take over first place in the AFC South with a victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday. Instead they remain two games behind the division leaders. But before looking ahead to next week's opponent, let's take a look at what went wrong today.
Jake Locker, Ryan Fitzpatrick
The biggest news about Locker is that he is likely out for the remainder of the season due to a Lisfranc injury in his right foot. Before suffering the third injury of his short career that will cost him starts, Locker was having another poor performance.
Locker completed four of nine passes for 24 yards and an interception. He also ran the ball three times for 18 yards and fumbled a snap for the team's second turnover of the game. It was shaping up to be another one of Locker's patented scattershot passing days.
According to Mike Munchak, the injury to Locker's foot likely caused the botched handoff to Chris Johnson:
You can’t play that sloppy, you can’t give a handoff (away). Jake (Locker) should have probably come out. That cost us points on the second turnover.
The Titans don't expect Locker to be ready to go by Thursday night, but his paltry numbers on the day left much to be desired. It doesn't appear that Locker has gotten over his streaky play just yet.
When Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped in for the injured Locker, the Titans finally began to move the ball a bit offensively. The former Buffalo Bill completed all five of his pass attempts in the second quarter for 56 yards and a touchdown.
He finished the game with 264 yards and two scores but fumbled the ball twice, losing one. The one he lost proved to be one turnover too many for the Titans to overcome. While he did lead the team to all 27 of its points, the offense definitely left points on the board.
Titans fans will need to get used to turnovers with Fitzpatrick at the helm for the foreseeable future. He has turned the ball over in every start this season and has averaged more than one turnover per game for his career. Fitzpatrick's play definitely carried this grade to a C-, but the fumble, other near turnovers and two drives stalling out in the red zone keep it from being any higher.
Chris Johnson, Shonn Greene
As a team, the Titans rushed for 83 yards; however, 31 of the yards came from quarterback scrambles. Greene and Johnson rushed for a combined total of 52 yards on 21 carries against a defense that allowed an average of more than 166 yards per game coming in.
Johnson fumbled on the first play from scrimmage to set up the go-ahead score for the Jaguars—they would never relinquish the lead for the rest of the game. The Titans had clearly schemed screen passes in the game plan this week. Greene and Johnson had eight receptions for 53 yards in the game.
After making a major step in the right direction against the St. Louis Rams, the Titans turned in another lackluster day on the ground. After an offseason spent hoping to improve the running game, through nine games, the attempt has been a failure.
The two backs' production in the passing game is the only thing that saved this grade from being lower.
Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter, Nate Washington, Kenny Britt
Wright put together another solid performance with seven receptions for 78 yards. He has cemented his place as the team's lone consistent performer. While he may not light up the box score or hit paydirt very often, from Week 2 on, Wright is averaging more than five catches for about 61 yards per game.
Justin Hunter received a few more snaps than normal, racking up seven targets but just two catches. It's important the Titans make an effort to get him more involved with Kenny Britt being phased out. Britt was targeted once in the game and went largely unnoticed.
Nate Washington's involvement on offense has been slipping over the past few weeks, and nothing changed this week. He finished with three catches for 29 yards. He has just seven receptions over the last four games.
The receivers seemed like they were able to get open well enough, but the offense simply struggled due to turnovers and the poor start by Locker.
Delanie Walker, Craig Stevens, Taylor Thompson
The tight ends combined for 77 yards and two touchdowns on six receptions. Delanie Walker led the way with 62 yards and a score, but a lot of his damage was too little, too late. The tight ends were very vital to the Titans' continuous comeback attempts after shooting themselves in the foot throughout the second half.
On an offense that really doesn't have any standouts, Walker has produced two scores in three weeks and has made several timely catches. It's interesting that the team finally got Stevens and Thompson involved in the passing game with each one making a reception.
For a team that wants to feature the running game, it would be wise to get the other tight ends involved in the passing game more often to stop tipping their play calls to opposing defenses.
Michael Roos, Andy Levitre, Brian Schwenke, Chance Warmack, Michael Otto, Chris Spencer
The offensive line failed to build on the success it had against the Rams the previous week and was unable to create any running lanes for Chris Johnson or Shonn Greene. The offensive line play is not where the team would like it to be, but it has improved as the season has worn on.
It was a bad day for the rookies, Chance Warmack taking a holding penalty in his own end zone, resulting in a safety. Brian Schwenke left the game early and did not return. It doesn't seem as though his return is expected to be soon judging by this tweet.
#Titans center Brian Schwenke left LP Field with his right foot in a protective boot.— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) November 11, 2013
Chris Spencer stepped in for Schwenke and performed well.
In the passing, the offensive line allowed one sack, two hits on the quarterback and two tackles for loss. It was a pretty solid day of pass protection if not for a glaringly costly sack-and-strip fumble recovery for the game-winning score.
Derrick Morgan, Ropati Pitoitua, Jurrell Casey, Sammie Lee Hill, Mike Martin
The Titans defensive line did a quality job of stuffing Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jags running game and put plenty of pressure on Chad Henne, batting down several passes. All together, Jacksonville was held to a total of 54 yards rushing and two touchdowns while the Titans defensive line racked up three sacks, six hits on the quarterback and seven tackles for a loss.
Jurrell Casey had another fine day, finishing with six tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss. He was seemingly everywhere on defense, breaking up several plays. Derrick Morgan had a strong performance as well, with a sack, three hits on the quarterback, two tackles for a loss and six tackles total.
The defensive line played well throughout but failed to come up with some key stops in obvious running situations. Jordan Todman and Maurice Jones-Drew each scored from five and six yards out.
Colin McCarthy, Akeem Ayers, Zach Brown
Colin McCarthy showed some of the ability that had the coaching staff excited about his potential, having been demoted for being oft-injured. He led the team in tackles with seven and also had an interception. Zach Brown and Akeem Ayers were quiet contributors that struggled to get into position on some short passing routes.
Overall, the unit's performance wasn't back-breaking, but the team needed better coverage on Marcedes Lewis and more run support and missed some tackles in the open field. After a hot start, Brown's play has tailed off a bit. Ayers has been almost non-existent.
Ayers was being touted as someone who would have a major presence on defense this season, with him being expected to be a key blitzer. He has appeared lethargic over the last few weeks, not the major contributor he was expected to be.
Jason McCourty, Alterraun Verner, Coty Sensabaugh, Michael Griffin, Bernard Pollard
While Chad Henne only passed for 180 yards in the game, his completions were often big plays for first downs. Henne completed 14 passes and eight of them were for first downs. The unit also joined the linebackers in missing tackles.
Alterraun Verner added to his interception total, picking off his fifth pass of the season. No one receiver was particularly dominant. Cecil Shorts III had two catches for 42 yards and receivers only accounted for 93 yards.
Jason McCourty was beaten on several short routes that became a bit longer and wasn’t his normally sure-tackling self. Bernard Pollard had penalties on back-to-back plays that proved costly. His first cost the team a holding penalty, and the second gave the Jags 15 yards.
Typically, this performance would receive a higher grade but considering the opponent, the missed tackles and the amount of first downs allowed through the air, the score is justified.
The kickoff coverage unit was an abject failure, allowing Jordan Todman to average 33 yards per return on three returns. Ace Sanders also returned one 21 yards. The poor coverage often gave Jacksonville great starting field position, putting more pressure on the defense.
Rob Bironas made field goals from 37 and 39 yards out but looked somewhat shaky on the second attempt. Damian Williams left the game early due to injury and was replaced by Alterraun Verner.
The two combined to average 20.3 yards per kick return and 7.5 yards per punt return. The Titans coverage needed to perform better to help Tennessee's offense have better field position on a day where drives stalled out in scoring range.
Tennessee did not come out looking ready to play, and it paid for it. The players came into the game looking very humdrum. The coaching staff failed to inspire the players to play, albeit these are professional athletes being paid a lot of cash to do a job.
The play-calling has lacked creativity at times, but that was not the reason for the loss today. The team continues to make the same mistakes and penalties that hurt it every week.
I'll leave you with some quotes from the players (all quotes gathered from Titansonline):
"You can get beat on any single day if you don’t show up. Unfortunately, especially early, it felt like we didn’t come to play." —Ryan Fitzpatrick
"Guys didn’t seem like they were hyped. It’s all of us. I can’t point fingers. It’s me, too. I’m on this team and I didn’t play to my best ability." —Delanie Walker
"I just don’t think we were ready to play today. We’ve got to do a better job. Like I said, it’s just not acceptable." —Nate Washington
Pollard: "You’ve seen it all year with us, all year, every single game. We’re trying to give the game away." #Titans— John Glennon (@glennonsports) November 10, 2013