4 Reasons the Indianapolis Loss Shows Tennessee Titans Don't Belong in Playoffs
Two weeks ago, the Tennessee Titans were sitting pretty at 7-5. There were valid hopes of making the playoffs, with talk of being able to win at least three of their last four games.
A heartbreaking loss to the high-powered New Orleans Saints could be excused, as the Titans' rookie quarterback Jake Locker was less than 10 yards away from winning.
Unexpectedly, the Tennessee Titans did not bounce back with a vengeance this week. Visiting the—until now—winless Indianapolis Colts, the Titans could not get anything going all day and dropped the game 27-13, basically eliminating any chance for the final AFC wild card spot.
The game was ugly on the Titans' part, and it showed why the team does not belong in the 2011-2012 NFL Playoffs.
Here are four reasons why.
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
With a few exceptions, the Tennessee Titans are a young team. Almost half of the starting defense consists of rookies, and with this youth usually comes some immaturity and a propensity to make mistakes.
While the Titans have been penalized more than would be optimal during the year, lack of discipline reared its ugly head during today's game with Indianapolis. There is no reason a punting play should take three tries, with both teams committing penalties and being offset.
At the same time, what looked like promising drives were held back from stupid penalties, such as holding or false starts.
No NFL team can expect to make the playoffs, much less win there, with the problems the Titans faced today with the officiating.
2. Mistakes and Turnovers
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
This was the killer for the Titans today.
Pick sixes? Check.
Fumbles galore? Check.
Eighty-plus yard runs by Donald Brown to practically finish the game? Check.
There is no way that the Tennessee Titans could have made any noise in the playoffs while making huge mistakes like those, especially when it occurs against the previously winless Colts.
3. Lack of Offense
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Especially in the first half, the Tennessee Titans offense looked very...stagnant. There was no sense of urgency and no risk-taking. Three and outs were prominent, with two run plays getting no yardage followed by an incomplete or failed screen pass being the norm.
The saying goes that offense sells tickets and defense wins championships, but a team has to be able to move the football to win.
Injuries can be blamed, as Kenny Britt was hurt then placed on the IR in the first weeks of the year and the now first-string receiver Nate Washington has been playing on an injury for a while now.
Despite these issues, there is no excuse for lackluster offense when playing the last-place Colts.
Running wasn't working, and the passing game was spotty and riddled with mistakes and lack of depth.
4. Chris Johnson's Two Personalities
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
The Chris Johnson of years past is sorely missed.
If the Titans had a stable running game for most of the year, the record may have looked very different for the Music City franchise. Tennessee has traditionally been a running-based team, and when Chris Johnson seemingly doesn't show up some weeks, there is a major problem.
While CJ had a decent game today, he was expected to run rampant against the terrible Colts' run defense.
The Titans desperately needed CJ to live up to his massive contract, and without that, they didn't belong in the playoffs.
John Grieshop/Getty Images
The Titans' late season woes have ended with the team's playoff hopes being diminished.
If the Titans had won today against the previously winless and rather bad Colts, it would be an entirely different story. The Titans would have been tied for the final AFC wild card spot with the Cincinnati Bengals at 8-6, awaiting results of the New York Jets game.
This was not meant to be for the Titans, as there was little to no fire in their belly today to win.
The Colts loss, sadly, showed that the Titans were not ready for primetime and to step back into the playoff spotlight.