Here’s a sign of how far the Tennessee Titans have fallen.
On their way into Sunday’s game against the New York Giants, fans were tossing their extra tickets in decorative planters that surround LP Field. One planter had gathered about eight tickets, giving anyone who wandered by and grabbed a ticket free admission to the game.
The way the Titans have been playing, free is the appropriate price to pay. The team failed to mount a competitive effort yet again in getting thumped by the Giants, 36-7. It was the seventh straight loss for the Titans.
To show how one-sided the game was, the Giants were up 23-0 at the half. By that time, the Titans had only gained three first downs.
“There was not much good about what we did out there today,” said Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt. “It was a tough day. It was not fun.”
So what do the Titans do to fix this train wreck? How can you improve a team that’s bad at so many positions?
With holes everywhere on the team and without a playmaker on the roster, it will be interesting to see what direction the team heads in the NFL draft. The Titans have failed to land impact players in the first round, which is one of the reasons the team is in a downward spiral.
The last five Titans’ first-round draft picks are: tackle Taylor Lewan, guard Chance Warmack, receiver Kendall Wright, quarterback Jake Locker, and defensive end Derrick Morgan. None of those players have been difference-makers.
In contrast, when the Titans were making the playoffs, their first-round draft picks included Steve McNair, Eddie George, Jevon Kearse, Keith Bulluck and Albert Haynesworth.
Even though the offensive line has been an area of emphasis in recent drafts, the line has played poorly while ranking near the league worst in terms of penalties committed. On Sunday, the offensive line surrendered eight sacks as QB Zach Mettenberger was knocked from the game for the second consecutive week.
Mettenberger, a rookie, is getting the nod at QB because the team has given up on oft-injured Jake Locker, who is not under contract next year. Nine-year verteran Charlie Whitehurst was unimpressive in his starts at QB and is not viewed as the answer.
But Whisenhunt says evaluating Mettenberger has been a challenge because the Titans are in such bad shape around him. For Sunday’s game, the Titans were without both starting tackles, their starting center, and both starting wide receivers.
“It’s been difficult because of the protection and where we are at receiver,” said Whisenhunt.
Mettenberger finished the game 14-of-24 for 125 yards with one INT. For the year, he has an 83.4 passer rating.
The Titans were without WR Wright, who broke his wrist last week in practice. Wright leads the team with 51 catches for 633 yards and five TDs. Justin Hunter, put on season-ending IR because of a ruptured spleen, has added 28 catches for 498 yards and three TDs.
“We had a lot of guys who were playing today who hadn’t had a lot of experience, or a lot of time playing with us and that didn’t make it any easier,” said Whisenhunt. “We were playing with a tackle who had been with us for three days. That’s not easy. When you have two receivers who have been making plays all year and they’re on the sideline, those are weapons the quarterback doesn’t have. But you know what. Nobody really cares and we have to play the games on Sunday.”
As bad as the offense has been, the Titans defense hasn’t fared much better, ranked 30th in the league for yards allowed per game and ranked dead last in rushing yards allowed per game.
Because of the team’s seven-game skid, the Titans are in the running for the No. 1 overall draft pick as one of five teams that currently hold a 2-11 record. The other four are the New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Of the Titans’ three remaining games, two are against the Jets and Jaguars. The Titans play the Indianapolis Colts the final week of the regular season in a game where Indy could rest its starters heading into the playoffs.