JOE BIDDLE: Titans let great opportunity slip away

Tennessee Titans Generic
(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – There is something about Tennessee teams’ failure to closing games out. Something about taking their feet off of opponents’ air hoses prematurely.

Something about how they get leads late in games and blow them.

I’m talking about the Tennessee Vols and your Tennessee Titans.

Both coaches love to use the alibi about how young their players are. They are not alone, as it’s a great excuse for both Butch Jones and Ken Whisenhunt.

As for Whisenhunt, he left himself open for second-guessing on his play calling on critical situations Sunday when he let the Colts steal a game in the Titans house.

The ones that stung the most was the failure to tie the game up late in the fourth quarter. The Titans were down 35-33 after fullback Jalston Fowler scored on a one-yard run with 51 seconds remaining in the game.

A Titans two-point conversion was the only call that if successful would likely send the game to overtime.

Mariota’s pass attempt to Harry Douglas was incomplete, but a pass interference call against the Colts moved the ball to the one-yard line where the Titans would get a second chance to tie it.

Here’s where I differ with Whisenhunt’s call. He said in his press conference he wants the Titans to be a power running team, which if you have those type running backs is all well and good.

But I don’t see a Jerome Bettis on this roster. Not even Seattle’s BeastMode, Marshawn Lynch. Those are the type players you need to be a power running team. Not Jalston Fowler. I’m not convinced the Titans current offensive line is suited to a power running game, even against a depleted Colts defense.

Whisenhunt went to the well one too many times when he called Fowler’s number on a play that would extend the game if it worked. It failed, thus the Titans lost to the Colts for the eighth straight game, 35-33. The Titans got outscored 21-6 in the fourth quarter.

So you ask me, Mister Smarty Pants, what would you have called on the second attempt?

Well, you drafted former Oregon Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota second in this year’s draft. He was known as a read option quarterback, who could throw and run with the best that have played the game.

I would have had a quarterback roll-out with a run-pass option. Remember they just needed a yard, 36 inches away from overtime and another chance to win the game.
I asked Mariota in his press conference how comfortable he felt using a roll-out, run-throw option on a short yardage situation.

“Good,’’ he said. “We’ll see as we move forward if we continue to implement those things in our offense. I just do my best to execute what the coaches are asking.’’

I asked if they had any of those type plays available.

“Obviously there are plays that have that. I’m sure we’ll get to them,’’ he said.

Get to them? When? It’s too late now. Instead the Titans called on Fowler for the second time to blast up the middle. Don’t think the Colts defensive braintrust was not looking for it.

So much for the Titans being a power running team.

In this game Fowler ran four times, gaining nine yards, a 2.3 yard per carry average. His longest was three yards. The other six yards on three carries averaged 2 yards a carry. Those would indicate there was nothing wrong with the call, but it failed. It had no sign of imagination.

“It’s tough. We’ll just have to learn from it. We had a chance to finish it, but you’ve just got to learn from it and get better,’’ Mariota said.

I still don’t get they are trying to make the Titans a power running team. That doesn’t utilize what Mariota’s skill set fits.

But that’s why they pay Whisenhunt the big bucks.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at

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