The Titans have not had a more important football game in a number of years than the one they will play Jacksonville in sub-freezing temperatures at Nissan Stadium Sunday.
It will start in mid-afternoon in inclement weather for two teams that usually play in warmer conditions.
There will be no excuses for the Titans. The visiting Jags already have secured their place in the playoffs. Win, lose or tie, they are playoff bound.
The Titans playoff picture could be determined by the final score. If they win, they’re in. Should they lose to a Jaguars team they hammered earlier in the schedule, they could still get in, but they will have to rely on other AFC games.
The Jags claim they will do all they can do to win this game. Jags coach Doug Marrone has publicly said he will treat it as one of 16 regular season games. He tells his team they need to win every quarter during the season. No need to change what they are used to.
Marrone, one of the NFL’s younger head coaches, is competitive in every bone of his body. He is married to one of former MTSU football coach Boots Donnelly’s daughters. Their family tree is one filled with competitors.
Enough of Marrone and the Jags.
This game result will go a long way when it pertains to Titans head coach Mike Mularkey and likely some of his staff.
Mularkey is old school and this is the longest he has ever been an NFL head coach. Old school is all right if you win enough games, but the smash-mouth formula has grown stale in the league.
Retired NFL Super Bowl coach Bill Parcells is fond of saying, “You are what your record says you are.’’
Mularkey isn’t getting any younger, born in 1961. Neither is offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie, born in 1954. He and Mularkey share offensive game planning each game.
The players seem to like Mularkey and play hard for him but the song and dance is growing old. You get the same old song after a loss, both from Mularkey and the players.
General Manager Jon Robinson has not publicly talked in weeks about the Titans staffs’ future. Sometimes silence is deadly.
I know this. Titans Nation will not tolerate another 8-8 record if they lose Sunday and miss the playoffs. It’s like waving a red flag in a bull’s face, especially when this was predicted to be a playoff season. These Titans have played to the strength, or weaknesses, of their opponents. Many games they have had trouble getting untracked on offense.
The Titans at this point have run out of excuses.
Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at email@example.com.