It’s okay to be upset about the way the Tennessee Titans‘ 2020 season came to an end, but acting as though the season was some kind of major catastrophe would be a gross overreaction.

The Titans exited the postseason almost as soon as they entered it, losing to the Ravens 20-13 in Sunday’s wildcard game. It was a disappointing finish for a team that made it all the way to the AFC Championship in 2019.

The sting of a first-round playoff exit can be blinding—and it already has been for some Titans fans—to the fact that the Titans are still a well-run organization with a solid foundation. They aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“The Tennessee Titans will be back,” WR A.J. Brown said. “We’re going to get a Super Bowl.”

OTHER ACCOMPLISHMENTS

The 2020 season certainly was not void of accomplishments for the Titans. The organization won its first division title in 12 years and notched 11 regular-season wins in the midst of a global pandemic that, arguably, hit them harder than any other NFL team.

“We accomplished a lot as a team this year during these difficult times, and you know, I’ll never forget all the things we accomplished,” RB Derrick Henry said.

That’s not to say that Sunday’s loss should be ignored, or that the season should be celebrated as some kind of moral victory.

The 2020 Titans failed to achieve their ultimate goal and, for that, fans have every right to be disappointed.

“Obviously did some good things this year, but didn’t win this game today,” QB Ryan Tannehill said. “At the end of the day, we’re here to try to win a championship and put ourselves in a position to win a championship.”

PUT AWAY THE PITCHFORKS

However, the pitchforks and torches do need to be put away, especially by the angry internet mobs who have already begun hunting down Titans head coach Mike Vrabel.

Vrabel did make a mistake on Sunday, electing to punt on a fourth-and-two from the Ravens 40-yard-line late in the fourth quarter. That decision reeked of softness, the quality Vrabel most frequently expresses his desire to avoid.

That’s not what cost the Titans the game, though.

The Titans lost because they couldn’t stop Lamar Jackson or get into any kind of offensive rhythm.

After a shaky start to the game, Jackson terrorized the Titans’ defense, particularly in the second half. The reigning NFL MVP ran for 136 yards on 16 carries, including a 48-yard scamper in the second quarter to tie the game.

Jackson’s elite speed and elusiveness were simply too much for the Titans’ weak defense.

“Today we didn’t do a good enough job, especially when we needed to,” DL Jeffery Simmons said after the game. “Our goal was to come in and try to stop Lamar Jackson.”

On the other side of the ball, the Titans’ typically high-flying offense was totally flat. Tannehill and company couldn’t get much of anything going, scoring just three points outside of the first quarter.

Henry was particularly ineffective, rushing 18 times for just 40 yards.

“We didn’t move the ball and score enough points,” Tannehill said.

“We knew it was going to take more. We just didn’t get it done.”

STILL PLENTY OF HOPE

The Titans lost to the Ravens because, as Henry eloquently put it after the game, “the Ravens were the better team.”

In the NFL, that’s going to happen sometimes.

All season long, the Titans have shown serious flaws, particularly on defense. Thanks to Vrabel and his star players like Tannehill and Henry, though, they kept winning.

Vrabel and general manager Jon Robinson will spend the next seven months trying to get those flaws fixed, and when the Titans begin Training Camp in August, Henry and Tannehill will still be there.

Though they face an offseason of tough decisions and the potential loss of offensive coordinator Arthur Smith to the head-coaching ranks, the world is not ending for the Titans.

Being disappointed and wondering “what could’ve been” is more than okay after Sunday’s loss. After all, it was a major disappointment.

“My disappointment is obviously for the players who put so much into it that are beaten up, that play this game at far less than anywhere close to 100%,” Vrabel said.

“You know, you don’t like to see the people that you care about frustrated or disappointed, and certainly we all are.”

Anger and calling for people’s heads, though, is taking it entirely too far.

There remains a lot to be excited about with this franchise, and they certainly don’t deserve to be spat upon.

Cover image: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA Today


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