Titans Stare Down Humiliation, Intrigue And Losing As Season Is Suddenly On The Brink

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It didn’t start as a season on the brink for the Tennessee Titans. This year actually began on an encouraging note, with both the head coach and general manager getting contract extensions, suggesting the franchise is stable and pointed in the right direction.

But the Titans are reeling now. They’ve piled losing atop humiliation and intrigue.

That’s not good as the team readies for a road game against the Los Angeles Chargers. And it’s nothing seen in Nashville since 2018, when coach Mike Vrabel was hired by general manager Jon Robinson.

“Something just smells wrong about that club right now,” one AFC personnel man told OutKick on Friday. “It’s surprising because they’ve been so rock solid for years. But from 30,000 feet it looks like things are going off the rails a little bit.”

Titans offensive coordinator Todd Downing arrested for DUI
Tennessee Titans Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing looks on as Tennessee Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel checks his play card during the NFL football game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts on October 31, 2021. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Todd Downing Arrest Was First Black Eye

That wasn’t the view on Nov. 17 when the Titans defeated the Green Bay Packers with one of their most complete performances as a team. The victory improved Tennessee’s record to 7-3.

But then … problems.

Within hours of the team getting home, offensive coordinator Todd Downing was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Local law enforcement and the NFL are conducting inquiries but Downing remains on the job.

You know who isn’t on the job anymore?

Robinson was fired the first week of December by controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk. He was let go in curious fashion.

Titans GM Jon Robinson fired despite great record.
General Manager Jon Robinson with Ryan Tannehill of the Tennessee Titans on the field before a game against the New York Giants at Nissan Stadium on September 11, 2022. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

The Strange Case Of Jon Robinson Firing

It’s curious an NFL general manager is fired in-season.

It’s curious a general manager whose team compiled a 63-43 record during his seven-year tenure was fired.

And it’s curious a general manager gets fired despite winning, but an offensive coordinator is retained despite allegedly driving drunk.

That, of course, leads to questions. What changed from February when Robinson scored his contract extension to December when he was ousted?

It also leads to the intrigue. League sources are speculating Vrabel had a hand in the Robinson firing. They also have more power when the new GM is selected.

Vrabel told reporters he was merely made aware of the firing but not consulted by Adams Strunk about it prior.

That is awful if accurate. That would say Adams Strunk made a franchise-altering football decision without consulting her highest ranking football man.

Whatever the truth, it paints a bad picture for the Titans.

And have I mentioned the team is on a three-game losing skid? It’s probably wrong to connect that to the Downing arrest or Robinson firing. But it obviously hurts.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel must overcome losing skid.
Mike Vrabel of the Tennessee Titans stands during the national anthem against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on September 19, 2022. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Titans Face Skid Under Mike Vrabel

The team’s first three-game skid since Vrabel’s first season in 2018 hasn’t loosened Tennessee’s grip on the AFC South lead. But no one in the organization is thrilled with the results. Because those results suggest the team may be a playoff qualifier but not really a championship contender.

“You look at what has happened, and you want to get out of it,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said of the skid. “[We] are not blind to what has happened in the past few weeks. [We] look at it for what it is and want to get the ball going in the right direction. The way to do that is to go out and play well and get a win against the Chargers.”

Ah, yes, football talk.

The Titans, predictably, are staying positive amid their setbacks.

“We know what’s gone wrong. We know what has caused some of these stumbles and we’re working hard to correct them,” Downing said. “I couldn’t be happier considering the situation we’re in where the mood of the group is.”

Downing had a rough meeting with the media after his arrest a couple of weeks ago. But this week was quite upbeat.

“I agree it’s not all fixable, but it’s not all broken, either,” he said of his 26th-ranked scoring offense. “That’s something that I think the guys are really holding onto right now, saying, ‘Hey, there’s a lot of good stuff in there, too.’

“Has it been overall good enough? It has not. And that’s why we’ve had the results we’ve had … But the guys know who we are and what we’re capable of doing and we just need to get back to that.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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