The Tennessee Titans offense is broken.
The unit was so abysmal in a 16-0 shutout loss to the Denver Broncos that it’s hard to pick who most deserves to be blamed for the terrible performance.
But we can certainly take a look at the candidates.
The Head Coach
The Titans offense should’ve seen this one coming, based on the attitude their head coach entered the week with.
“We didn’t make enough plays to help us but that’s not going to change how we approach next week,” Mike Vrabel said after the Titans’ Week 5 loss to the Bills. “We’re going to go back and prepare. We have to fix some mistakes and get them corrected.”
That lack of change became pretty evident as the Titans offense failed to score a single point against Denver. It was the worst that the unit has looked all season and among the worst offensive products that the Titans franchise has ever put on the field for a game.
Vrabel did ultimately make a quarterback change during the game, replacing Marcus Mariota with Ryan Tannehill following the offense’s first drive of the second half, but it was too little, too late.
When things are going as badly as they’ve gone for the Titans offense to start the season, change is necessary.
Yet, due to his propensity to see the potential of an ideal future instead of reality, Vrabel kept his approach the same.
Maybe an embarrassing loss will prompt him to take discernable actions to get things fixed.
The Offensive Line
The Titans spent $44 million on G Rodger Saffold and a third-round draft pick on G Nate Davis during the offseason. They also locked up C Ben Jones to a multiyear contract extension.
The results of those moves have been pretty tragic, which has had a major factor in the Titans offense being eternally stagnated.
The Titans’ offensive line has allowed 29 sacks through six games, and it’s honestly shocking that that number isn’t higher.
They’re on pace to allow the most sacks in NFL history during a single season, a record currently held by the inaugural Houston Texans team in 2002.
Saffold has been a liability, constantly looking like a shell of the version of himself that earned an All-Pro nod with the NFC-Champion Rams in 2018.
Davis probably shouldn’t be a starter this early into his NFL career, but the alternative option for the Titans, Jamil Douglas, is much, much worse.
LT Taylor Lewan has been okay since coming back from his 4-game suspension, but it’s hard for him to perform to the level he usually does when everything around him is falling apart.
The Play Caller
The man calling plays for the Titans offense, coordinator Arthur Smith, continues to turn in poor performances.
His inability to string together drives with quality play calls has hurt the Titans offense. A lot of his calls are head-scratchers.
For example, on a third-down early in the second quarter, Smith called a screen to RB Dion Lewis whereby he ran a jet motion out of the backfield, was thrown the ball and was immediately tackled by a swarm of Broncos defenders.
Plays like that just aren’t good enough in the NFL, and Smith continues to call them.
Mariota had one of the worst games of his career against Denver. He was missing receivers right and left, throwing multiple inaccurate passes on screens to RB Derrick Henry and missing TE Delanie Walker on a third and short early in the game.
He also did something twice that he had not done in any of the Titans’ first five games: turn the football over. He threw two interceptions before being removed from the game, the second of which seemed to be his last straw.
Not a Good Outlook
The sheer amount of issue within the Titans offense—and there are plenty more than the ones listed here—make the unit virtually unfixable with a single move or even multiple moves throughout the season.
But just because the Titans may not be able to completely fix things, that doesn’t mean they can’t make them a little bit better.
To do that, change is required.
Would a permanent QB change do the trick? Probably not, but it could be worth a shot.
Would some shuffling on the offensive line do the trick? Probably not, but it could be worth a shot.
Would firing an assistant coach in hopes of waking up the team and try something new do the trick? Probably not, but it could be worth a shot.
Making a mid-game QB change was a start. It can’t be the end, too.
Cover image: Ron Chenoy/USA Today