A game most Titans’ fans placed a large, green “W” next to before the season turned into a bloodbath yesterday. Following a brutal knee injury to four-time Pro Bowler, Nick Chubb last Sunday Night, there was more reason to believe Cleveland was destined for another miserable season after a hot start.
However, Tennessee seemingly made the most inopportune mistakes at the most inopportune times. The Titans conceded five automatic first downs off penalties including three on 3rd or 4th down. All three of those drives resulted in points for the Browns while the game was still in the balance.
Controversy plagued Quarterback Deshaun Watson, who finally looked the part of “elite QB,” abused the Titans' defense all afternoon. A 27-for-33 outing with 289 yards and a pair of TD tosses is what the Dawg Pound has been dreaming about since the day Watson signed a $230 million fully guaranteed contract in March of 2022.
Putting aside the defensive struggles and mindlessness today, the frustration with the offense is what is truly oozing from my fingertips right now. What should we be more upset about? An average of just over four yards per pass attempt, or Derrick Henry getting only eleven carries and then shutting him down while abandoning the run altogether once the Browns had success early stopping the ground game. What the hell are we doing?
No patience was to be found anywhere today for Tennessee and it was costly. A total of 94 yards of offense for the Titans makes me want to shout from the top of my lungs the famed Cleveland Browns’ quote, “You are a factory of sadness?” Yet, this time the Browns made that of us. Credit their stout seven-man front and their ability to control the ball.
Cleveland owned possession for 38:29 of the 60-minute slow burn. Most days, Ryan Tannehill would catch the flack for the offensive woes. However, Tannehill created opportunities for the offense to have success. He had his flaws for sure, including a bad miss of Treylon Burks that may have resulted in the lone touchdown of the day, but the blame truly lies on the poor performance of the offensive line and the inexcusable decision-making by the coaching staff.
The turning point was at the end of the first half. Down 13-3 in the final seconds, the Titans had a massive opportunity to get in the end zone or at the very least, kick a field goal to make it a one-score game and get the ball back to start the second half. But a checkdown on second down forced Tennessee to burn its final timeout. This opened an opportunity for the Titans’ offense to blow their scoring chance and, boy, did they ever.
Future hall of famer Myles Garrett came off the edge on third down, blasting right past Left Tackle Andre Dillard, and bashed in Ryan Tannehill’s dome piece as the clock continued to tick down. No timeouts remained; no time left. Every Titans’ watch party in the greater 615 area was deflated. This was the moment we all knew the game was over.
Titans return home for Week 4 and meet a squad with similar issues - the Cincinnati Bengals. I get the sense this 2023 campaign will feature a team that withers away on the road but balls out at home – and that might just be good enough to stay in the AFC South race. We will find out on Sunday at Noon.
#### AFC South Standings