Mike Vrabel’s first season as the Tennessee Titans has been a roller coaster.
The Titans have had some great moments — the big wins against the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots.
But they’ve also had some low lows — the losses to the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts, specifically.
At 5-6, the Titans are currently a fringe playoff team. They have a favorable schedule on the horizon, which will make it possible for the Nashville based franchise to sneak into the playoffs. But even if the Titans manage to grab one of the wild card spots, it seems pretty clear that Tennessee isn’t poised to make a deep playoff run.
However, despite the team’s obvious deficiencies this season, I don’t think they’re that far away from being a great team.
Of course, that’s a fairly broad statement. I don’t think most teams in the NFL are that far away. There’s not a huge talent gap between the best and the worst teams in the NFL. It’s not like the Patriots, during the Brady/Belichick era, have been loaded with more talented players. They’ve just managed to get the most out of the players on their roster.
How many players have we seen leave the Patriots and fail to make an impact with their new team?
A good sign for the Titans
The Cowboys’ win against the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night should actually be encouraging to Titans fans. The Saints are obviously one of the top teams in the NFL this season. They looked downright unbeatable before falling to the Cowboys.
Massive win for the #Cowboys. No one would have thought they would have won the East after their loss the the #Titans. And now they’re in the cat birds seat w/ Skins backup QB and Eagles/Giants struggling.
— Zach Bingham (@Bada_Bingham) November 30, 2018
Dallas is a team the Titans absolutely dominated earlier a few weeks ago in Dallas.
I’m not trying to apply the transitive property here, but I think the Cowboys’ win against the Saints shows us that Tennessee is capable of playing at a high level.
The Titans are a couple of decisions away from being a 7-4 team. The difference in a playoff season and a 7-9 or 8-8 season isn’t drastic. It often comes down to several plays that weren’t executed perfectly.
I think Vrabel and the Titans are still feeling their way through who they want to be as a team. They’re still discovering their identity. I also think Vrabel is still learning who he is as a head coach. But it’s clear he knows what he’s doing. It’s not like he arrived in Nashville and drove the franchise into the ground like Bobby Petrino did with the Falcons in 2007 (there are countless other examples as well).
Vrabel has made plenty of mistakes this year. The whole team has. But there’s a foundation in place for the Titans to do some great things.
Can they make it over the hump next season and reach greatness?
Maybe. But only if the whole franchise commits itself to being great no matter what.
Featured image via Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports