The Tennessee Titans’ loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday taught everyone, including the team, a valuable lesson.
Nick Williams’ dropped touchdown catch was not the reason that the Tennessee Titans lost to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Following the Titans’ impressive defeat of the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4, a lot of the team’s fans and even some players began complaining that the team does not get enough attention from the national media. That narrative gained continued to gain steam seemingly every day in the week that followed.
The culmination of this issue came on Thursday when Kyle Brandt of NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” went on a viral rant that mocked members of the national media who don’t give the Titans respect.
— GMFB (@gmfb) October 4, 2018
Pro Bowl offensive tackle Taylor Lewan even commented on the situation following the Eagles game. “It’s ridiculous that people don’t give the Titans enough credit. Obviously, we’ve been up and down with wins the last two seasons. We’ve had winning seasons with a big playoff win. You’ve got to start giving the boys more credit, man. Like, there’s 32 (NFL) teams, there’s not 31. You’ve got to start respecting Nashville.”
When he was given the chance to comment on the issue, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel did his best to extinguish the narrative. “I think that is probably the most ridiculous thing that any of us should worry about, is what kind of credit we get,” Vrabel said. “The respect that you try and earn as a professional athlete should be by the guys on your side of the ball, and from the guys on the other side of the ball.”
Vrabel was 100% correct. That narrative undeniably helped the Titans lose to the Buffalo Bills, falling to 3-2.
The Buffalo Bills are, objectively, not a very good football team. They have an inconsistent and handicapped rookie quarterback, one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines, and lack of speed on both sides of the ball. Making matters worse, against the Titans, they were missing both of their starting safeties, including Pro Bowler Micah Hyde.
The Titans knew all of this going into the game, and they let it affect their play. In a brutal loss, they showed a severe lack of mental toughness.
There was absolutely zero energy to be found anywhere in the Titans’ lousy effort on Sunday. They essentially sleepwalked through the game. For already the second time this season, they didn’t score a touchdown.
Even when opportunities to grab momentum presented themselves, the Titans could not take advantage. WR Nick Williams had a 38-yard punt return, and CB Adoree’ Jackson made a nice interception late in the game. The drives that followed each of those two plays yielded only field goals for the Titans.
This disappointing effort was very reminiscent of last year’s Titans team, who confidently went into the fourth quarter of the season only to lose three out of four games and settle for second place in their division.
Josh Allen is an athletic quarterback. #Titans know this going into the game. They have to contain better. Kamalei Correa overpursues the run inside and allows Allen to break contain. Then Kendrick Lewis gets juked out of his shoes. Bills take an early 7-0 lead #TENvsBUF pic.twitter.com/MIc041wrXJ
— Titans Film Room (@titansfilmroom) October 7, 2018
The Titans’ game plan on Sunday also looked a lot like one the 2017 team would have used. Offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur did the exact opposite of the things he was brought in to do. He used tight formations, ran the ball with a fullback, and kept quarterback Marcus Mariota in the pocket for almost the entire game.
“It is pretty silent in here,” said safety Kevin Byard after the game. “We talked all week about not coming up here and laying an egg, and falling into the B.S. or whatever, but we did and we lost. We have to get better.”
Byard added, “We definitely don’t need to be doing that again. You have to earn respect. Respect has to be earned, not given. We didn’t earn respect today.”
The Titans lost to the Buffalo Bills because they repeatedly got in their own way. Sure they turned the ball over three times, but it was more than that. The Titans allowed the “outside noise” that is so often spitefully talked about to creep in.
They crumbled against a clearly inferior opponent. With a chance to take a 1.5 game lead over the Jaguars in the AFC South race, they laid an egg and completely blew it.
In losing to the Bills, the Titans proved that they have a crucial lack of mental toughness. They learned just how important it is to stay focused and what can go wrong when you don’t.
The lack of respect for the Titans from the national media was clearly warranted. The team needs to get this entire week out of their heads and move on.
Cover image via Titans Online.