Some people are fans of the Tennessee Titans. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Tennessee Titans. This 2022 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: Tennessee Titans.
Your 2021 record: 12-5. If you forgot that this team was the top seed in the AFC a year ago, I can assure you that they forgot it as well. And much sooner than you did. Roll the tape.
After this game was over, I said that this was the worst-run two-minute drill I’ve ever seen. Looking back at the game tape now, it’s somehow even worse than I originally thought. All the Titans had to do to host the AFC title game was chill for a playoff bye week and then beat the Bengals at home in the Divisional Round. Even Tom Brady thinks that’s an easy way through the bracket. It didn’t matter. The Titans fell behind by 10 to the Bengals in the second half. They couldn’t run the ball. Their quarterback couldn’t stop giving the ball away. Underwhelming everyone is what the Titans do best.
But then their defense sacked Joe Burrow an inhumane nine times and, in a span of just over two minutes to end the third quarter, their offense knotted the game up at 16, where it remained all the way until the end. With 2:23 left on the clock, and two timeouts still left in their holster, the Titans had the ball on their own 16. No need to settle for overtime. Sure, Ryan Tannehill was having a shit day, but when you’re the top seed and you’re at home, you should expect to play like it.
And wouldn’t you know it: two plays later, the Titans were already at their own 35, still with two timeouts left to burn and field goal range quickly approaching. Any other top seed would have felt the wind at the backs and blown the sorry-ass Bengals back into the asshole of Ohio with it.
Here now is what the Titans opted to do instead:
1st-and-10 (1:46) – Run the ball for no gain. Why are they not taking a timeout? Do they know they even have those timeouts? Shouldn’t the stadium PA just tell the coach what the deal is over the loudspeaker?
2nd-and-10 (1:08) – Pass the ball for a whopping five yards. THEY STILL AREN’T CALLING TIMEOUT WHAT THE FUCK. It’s not often that you get to watch an NFL team settle for an opposing field goal. The ghost of Jeff Fisher looks on with delight.
****BENGALS COACH ZAC TAYLOR TRIES TO DO THE TITANS A SOLID BY CALLING HIS OWN TIMEOUT BUT THE REFS DON’T SEE IT****
3rd-and-5 (0:20!!!!!!) – Interception.
The Titans ended up using only one of those final two timeouts that day: to ice the Bengals’ kicker. Here’s how that bit of gamesmanship worked out for them:
I was screaming at my television for this entire sequence of events, and I don’t even LIKE the Titans. That’s how inexplicable their decision-making was at the end of that game. If you wanna factor the QB’s woes into their strategic cowardice, well he fucked them anyway now, didn’t he? No matter who your QB is, you do have to try to win these games at some point. The Titans had their chance and not only did they blow it, they downright wanted to. That was a disgrace, no matter what came before.
That drive deserves to live in infamy, but it won’t. And do you know why? Because everyone already knows that the Tennessee Titans are never, EVER, as good as their record would lead you to believe. That goes for the 1999 Titans, too. Remember that team? The one that lost to the Rams by a yard in the Super Bowl? Here’s a little secret for you: they were dogshit. And they’ve been no better since.
Your coach: Mike Vrabel. Hey Coach Vrabel, what in the living fuck was that?
Took Mike Vrabel a few years to go into Full Belichick Disciple Mode, but by golly it was worth the wait. Vrabel also got a contract extension even after presiding over that collapse. Will he ever win a Super Bowl in Tennessee? God, no. But clearly, all that matters to Titans’ ownership is that their team at least come across as more presentable than the dregs of AFC, if only so they can get their hands on some new stadium money. In this regard, Vrabel still barely passes muster. As long as he runs this joint, the Titans will always be unimposing as all fuck. There’s a reason they lost to the Jets a year ago, and why the Texans broke an eight-game skid against them, and why their net point differential was lower than that of any other division winner, and why … look man, they’re the Titans. I don’t need to school you on any of this. You knew who they were the second they arrived here from Houston.
Your quarterback: Ryan Tannehill, who tossed three picks in a single playoff game and is about to take up the largest cap hit of any individual NFL player this coming season. I know it was (mildly) heartwarming when Tannehill flourished in Nashville after getting traded by Miami, and for a lower price than what the Browns fetched for Baker Mayfield just a month ago. But it’s not merely bad luck that Tannehill bombed out in Miami. And it’s not because the Dolphins are a toilet factory, either. It’s because he sucks antlers.
Gifted with the best running back in football, an O-line that used to routinely rank among the league’s best (NOTE: this is no longer true), and stud wideout AJ Brown, Ryan Tannehill still couldn’t make this team look like anything other than a team led by Ryan Tannehill. He even finished 2021 ranked lower than Jalen Hurts in PFF’s quarterback metrics. There is a tier of good NFL quarterbacks who’ll never be good enough, and Tannehill would be the face of that tier if Kirk Cousins didn’t already exist. And yet, here he remains, entirely because the Titans can’t release or trade him until after this season is over at the earliest.
Once they finally do, your successor is Malik Willis. Willis was the hottest name to come out of the Senior Bowl, and then NFL front offices remembered that he’s an inaccurate project QB who played at a GOP campaign infomercial poorly disguised as a diploma mill. After that collective epiphany, Willis’s draft stock tanked like Elon Musk had just tweeted about it. No player alive is more primed to reap the benefits of not being Ryan Tannehill than this guy.
What’s new that sucks: Given that Tennessee can’t bail on Tannehill just yet, you’re about to experience a return engagement about as enjoyable as the comeback run of Will & Grace. Gone is wideout AJ Brown: traded to Philly because the Titans were too cheap to even lowball him. Also gone is wideout Julio Jones, whom Tennessee traded for a year ago in what proved to be an enormous, not to mention depressing, mistake. To fill the void left by Brown (and by Jones’s 31 catches, I suppose), they drafted Treylon Burks and traded for Robert Woods, the latter of whom tore his ACL in the middle of last season. If you like offenses, well this is certainly one of them.
Over the past few years, the Titans built their entire philosophy around running back Derrick Henry. If you’ve ever watched Henry run the ball, you know that, on a superficial level, this is a good idea. In practice, it means that you’re still living in the Stone Ages and will never win a goddamn thing. And guess what? Whoa hey, turned out Henry missed the entire back half of last season—save for an injury-hampered, no-show performance in the Bengals loss—after the Titans brazenly overworked him the season prior. Who would’ve guessed? And who’ll be able to guess how this team’s offense will look this season, when it tries to do all of the exact same shit, only with Henry even more compromised and without their best wideout? I’d rather watch the Vols’ offense. At least their end zone still looks pretty whenever they fail to reach it. The Titans even reworked Henry’s contract so that they can give him another one sooner rather than later, so don’t expect this cycle of failure to change anytime soon.
Rodger Saffold is gone. So is Janoris Jenkins. Bud Dupree was a flop. They signed Buster Skrine and then he retired. Harold Landry just tore his ACL. Austin Hooper is here three years after being a clever DFS pick. Even if he returns to full health, Henry will never be as good as he once was now that opposing defenses know they can simply tackle him around his ankles. I see nothing in this team.
What has always sucked: Taylor Lewan is a good reminder that the only way to become famous as an O-lineman is to be racist, a violent psycho, or both. Nashville is like if you combined the cost of living of New York City with the culture and atmosphere of the Vegas Strip, and then you made it illegal to be a woman there. As for the Titans, they serve a vital function for the greater Nashville metro area, diverting an estimated 20,000 unbearable local psychopaths from attending school board meetings every year. And the only thing worse than country music is people who like country music. Seal this city into a Ziploc Bag and bury it inside a horse’s asshole.
Ratto says: The Titans want a new stadium in a state that likes but does not love the NFL. The most entertaining thing the Titans will do this year, other than sell the greatness of Ryan Tannehill, is Amy Strunk stumping for a multi-billion dollar pleasure palace for a team that has combined a 59-38 record and almost utter anonymity over the past six seasons. Derrick Henry better plan on 450 carries this year in his last season of contractual marketability.
Steve McNair was overrated.
What might not suck: The defense is young and evil.
HEAR IT FROM TITANS FANS!
We got the #1 seed even with our best player hurt for half the season. And yet the moment Tannehill threw a pick on the first play against Cincinnati, we all knew that it was over.
Being a Titans fan means accepting that we perennially will win second place and receive a set of steak knives to stab our eyes out come playoff time.
Our fanbase only watches because U-Tennessee is bad.
What a punishingly shitty team to root for. This is the team that will always be the stepping stone in somebody else’s miraculous run. And Nashville is Wakanada for white women.
Ryan Tannehill got the bag and we let AJ Brown walk.
They sacked Burrow fucking 147 times. Got a miracle pick from Amani Hooker. And then I watched Ryan Tannehill turn into Matt Ryan. He costs fucking $39M this year.
After they lost, I went straight to the team shop after the loss and spent a rageful $130 on the jersey of the one offensive player who actually fucking did something that game.
And then he goes to the fucking Eagles.
The highlights of our team’s history is how formerly beloved players die.
Last season I went to a Titans home game for the first time in years. I watched Tractorcito and the Titans D hold off an awesome Bills team. It was exciting! I hadn’t enjoyed watching this team since the Chris Johnson days. So naturally, I make time to watch them play at home against your son Joe Burrow in the playoffs. Ryan Tannehill was born in the place where joy dies.
I had a great base buzz of roughly 10 beers leading up to the Divisional Round game, only to watch Ryan Tannehill ruin it by throwing a pick on his first pass of the game and on his last pass as well. I’m fairly positive that we just blew the best chance that we’ll have to win a Super Bowl for the foreseeable future. Ryan Tannehill broke my football spirit. I hope that he falls into an active volcano.
We traded AJ Brown and drafted a WR who will not be nearly as good as AJ Brown. And then drafted a QB from an evangelical college that is most famous for its president jerking off to his wife getting plowed by the pool boy.
At best, they’ve given me two different 2,000 yard rushers. At worst… well it’s somewhere between our best player ever getting murdered on July 4th and those weird 48 hours where it seemed like Vince Young was about to off himself.
Ryan Tannehill had his worst season since he came to Tennessee, capped by a three-pick shitshow in the playoffs against the Bengals. He was paid $38.6 million to do so.
Somehow, instead of wasting their draft picks, as they are wont to do, the Titans watched the best QB in the draft fall to them in third round. They did this because they normally roster a backup with a name like Blaze Whiteside who was 3rd-team all-AAC from UAB. But Tannehill’s enormous guaranteed contract means he’s our starter no matter what. I hope he and his MAGA-ass wife trip on their AR-15s and blow their toes off.
Nashville is like a lot of places right now. No affordable housing. No functional transit to help workers get to the city that they can’t afford to live in. Schools and educators are stretched ludicrously thin while our dipshit red state governor is actively trying to deplete them of resources. Tech companies are generously subsidized to re-locate here and bulldoze whatever they’d like, and bachelorettes barf freely in our streets and terrorize our neighborhoods. The city has given locals the shaft for decades.
So yeah, I paid $47 to go three miles in a rideshare last Saturday because I happened to be out on the same night the “old” stadium (just over 20 years) was hosting WWE SummerSlam. I stopped feeling sorry for myself about the wait/cost when I noticed the condition of our driver, coming from the direction of downtown, who sounded like he’d just narrowly escaped an encounter in the Black Lodge. So yeah, if the selling point for the domed boondoggle-in-the-works stadium is MORE EVENTS, I think we’ll pass. And we might as well change the name back to the Oilers as a useful reminder of why ownership is ownership.
And I say that as someone who foolishly follows this team and hangs on its every 2nd-and-13 draw play for 3 yards. I convinced myself that No. 1 seed in the AFC meant something last year. Our many national disrespectors would surely have to take notice now! Then the offensive coaches spent a home playoff game gingerly testing the waters with Derrick Henry’s just-healed foot (and never really deciding if he was healthy or not) and throwing doomed bubble screens to Chester Rogers in red zone situations. Everyone except the defense treated the game with all the urgency of an August joint practice.
You know what came in the mail for season ticket holders this year? A Derrick Henry bobblehead with a crown (nice!) and a felt pennant that said “2021 No. 1 Seed in the AFC.” Thanks for the reminder.
The Titans wandered the WR desert for 20 years and then finally stumbled into a game-breaking wide receiver that the fanbase adored and who once, while hopped up on drugs post-surgery, went on Instagram live to ramble about how much he loved the organization and playing for the team. When the trade rumors started, the GM and coach both swore AJ Brown wasn’t going anywhere. Then they shipped him off so they didn’t have to pay him. This fanbase, toxic as ever, immediately turned on Brown, claiming they never loved him and that he wasn’t that good anyways and that boy is he gonna have it rough in Philly. Shut up. It sucks shit they dumped him.
Ryan Tannehill is just Urban Outfitters Kirk Cousins. Can’t believe the team saw a preview of what he could do without his top wideout last year and thought yup, gimme more of that. His three interceptions against the Bengals came on the first play of the game, the first play of the second half, and the last offensive play of the game for the Titans. Glad he’s getting $40m this year.
I had to mute “Titans” on Twitter.
I had just graduated college in 2009 and gotten my first big boy job in Nashville. As a 23-year-old, the prospect of moving to this burgeoning party town was exciting. I was never much of an NFL fan, but some coworkers invited me to fill in a vacant spot in their FF keeper league. I even inherited Tom Brady!
A month or so later Tom Brady threw 6 TDs against the Titans in the snow. I still lost my fantasy matchup that week.
Despite this introduction to the Titans, over the years they’ve improbably become my NFL team. I love their scrappiness. I love how, in the last few years, they’ll beat most of the good teams in the regular season and then lose convincingly to the Jets. I love how every talking head thinks losing AJ Brown is going to be a death blow despite the fact that the offense the majority of last season was held together by Ryan Tannehill and bread ties, and was still a 1-seed. I don’t love being eliminated in the first round by Drew’s illegitimate love child, but I can’t win them all.
Someone bombed downtown Nashville on Christmas a couple years ago and no one even remembers that it happened. Stepping foot into Kid Rock’s Honky Tonk should be grounds for chemical castration. Bill Lee can suck my shit.
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