Tennessee Titans Face Near Insurmountable Challenge Getting Back in AFC Race

Dave StanleyCorrespondent IOctober 6, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 04:  Nate Washington #85 of the Tennessee Titans is tackled by Reggie Nelson #25 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during the game at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on October 4, 2009 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

To start 0-2 is one thing.

"We just have to get back on track; we still have a shot."

To find yourself at 0-3?

"Hey, teams have done it before; we have 13 games to go."

But 0-4?  Well, you're virtually out of hope.  There are no previous success stories to allude to at that point.

The best case scenario for the Titans at this point is for them to get hot, string together a few victories at some point and hope for a Jacksonville or Houston collapse.  And even then, they'd need help, given the ultra-competitive AFC.

Four games in, very few, if any, people thought that Tennessee and its fans would be reduced to discussing the possibility of "being mathematically alive."  

As linebacker Keith Bulluck aptly put it, the Titans are out of excuses.  

"Being at a loss for words is a good way to put it," he told the Associated Press after the game.  

Most analysts, pundits and experts are saying the same thing about coach Jeff Fisher.

"If anybody can hold an 0-4 team together and turn it around, it's Jeff Fisher."  

That very well may be, but in this case, the vices are inexorably wrapped in the virtues. Earlier this week, he was adamant about sticking to Kerry Collins in spite of the team's woes.  

It's almost eerily reminiscent of our previous president's ill-advised "stay the course" ethos. But at what point does the leader become a lemming?  

One more lopsided loss, and there will no doubt be an abundance of bitterness in the Music City as folks wonder what could have been if Vince Young would have been put in earlier in the season, when there was still an outside shot at the playoffs.  

And that's not to say that Fisher's job should be in jeopardy.  


He's been down before, only to raise his team like a phoenix out of the ashes to contend again.  Sometimes he does it in the same year, like in 2002.  However, most fans, players, rivals and critics alike are probably just a little tired of hearing about that year so much in the past four weeks.

If the Titans aren't your thing, you're yelling at the TV and computer screens, saying that one good year at the other end of the decade doesn't guarantee success this year.

On the other hand, if you're a fan of Tennessee, you're bitter and frustrated that it had to even be brought up (i.e. "why couldn't we actually be good and compared to the 1999 team?").

The fact of the matter is, it only gets worse for the Titans, schedule-wise.  This week, they face an Indianapolis squad that is on fire.  Next week sees them going to Foxboro, Mass. to take on a New England team that is finally hitting their stride.  

After a bye week, they come back to the cozy confines of LP field to play...Jacksonville.

If Tennessee had a win or two or three at this point, even the most optimistic person would say that the team would be lucky to steal two out of three in the upcoming brutal stretch.  

Now, however, that bright side prognostication would have the Titans at 2-5.  

Time for miracles, Mr. Fisher.  

"One game at a time" is a tired and somewhat trite cliché, but for Tennessee, there never has been a better time to embrace that ideology.

After the Jacksonville game, defensive veteran Jevon Kearse spoke with the media about the mindset of the team and what they have to do to get better.  

"We've been losing together, but we've been doing it as a team." 

Unintentional humor aside, he has the right idea.  

Now, time to start believing as a team.