The Tennessee Titans are taking an approach of fearlessness when it comes to facing Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
As has likely been said 1,000,000 already this week, Luck is undefeated against the Titans. He has beaten them 11 straight times.
#Colts QB Andrew Luck is a perfect 10-0 vs the Titans in his career
Since 1970, only HOF QB John Elway has 10 wins and 0 losses vs a single opponent
Will Luck get the win and stand alone on Sunday? pic.twitter.com/lUHWfeiofM
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) December 26, 2018
When the Titans faced the Colts earlier in the season, in Week 10, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel made a point to remind his players about Luck’s streak against the team as a motivating tool. It didn’t work.
That game, the Titans’ most recent loss to Luck and the Colts, was among the most one-sided. The Titans were defeated 38-10. QB Marcus Mariota suffered an injury, and Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees had a medical issue that forced him to leave the stadium during the first half.
This time around, Vrabel is taking a different approach.
“I think what that is about is us trying to win one game,” Vrabel said on Monday. “I don’t think that the streak is going to help or hurt that.”
The one thing regarding the streak that could work against the Titans is if they allow any sort of fear to creep in.
In order to succeed against Luck, the Titans must avoid seeing him as some sort of “boogeyman” figure. They cannot let him become an unbeatable obstacle that forces them to run in a different direction.
That would be a monumentally detrimental mentality for the Titans to adopt. So far, the locker room seems to be avoiding it.
“It really has nothing to do with fear,” safety Kevin Byard said. “Fear shouldn’t be in the conversation. It’s just ‘do your job’ and try to execute the game plan. Do what we have to do, what’s necessary to win the game. That’s the bottom line.”
🗣”What more y’all want.” – @KB31_Era
— Justin Beasley (@JBeasleyWSMV) December 23, 2018
“I feel like, as a team, we have nothing to lose,” said linebacker Rashaan Evans. “Both teams have the same thing at stake, they have to win in order to get in. This is going to be an exciting game, I feel like. Two great teams, two great defenses, quarterback vs. quarterback. I feel like we’re going to be up for the challenge.”
Evans added that the Titans have not talked very much about Luck’s streak this week. “The main thing for us is just to do what we do best.”
Something that general manager Jon Robinson emphasized when he took over with the Titans in 2016 was crafting a team with an identity. Robinson likes players who are tough, coachable, and who have a team-first mindset.
Another element that’s persistent in many of the players Robinson has acquired is fearlessness. Especially with what’s at stake for the Titans this week, that trait will be especially important.
“I hope that we’re fearless every time we go out there,” Vrabel said on Wednesday. “We’re trying to get as many fearless players as we could on the team or on the field at one time. That would be a really good thing for us. I think we all know what’s at stake with the game.”
A lethargic or sheepish effort from the Titans on Sunday night simply wouldn’t do the trick. Finally taking down Luck will require the team to be locked in and play with a sense of boldness.
It seems as though that’s exactly the mentality that the Titans will carry into the game. Executing, on top of having that mindset, would go a long way toward finally defeating Luck and punching their playoff ticket.
Cover image: USA Today/Brian Spurlock & Christopher Hanewinckel