Some people are fans of the Tennessee Titans. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Tennessee Titans. This 2017 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: Tennessee Titans.
Your 2011 record: 9-7.
Your coach: Mike Munchak! Great guy! Makes you wear sports coats.
Your quarterback: Jake Locker! Lotta motor in that dashing young man!
What’s new that sucks: Wideout YanceDell ThigCaliBritt is a speed demon!
What has always sucked: Ooooooh, that miserly Bud Adams! I hope that fella kicks the bucket soon so that this team can move into the future!
Wait wait wait.
I’m very sorry. Wrong Titans. Hang on a second. Let’s start again…
[flips through files]
Your team: Tennessee Titans, official team of the Spero Dedes/Solomon Wilcots booth.
Your 2016 record: 9-7. I honestly don’t know how you go 9-7 in the AFC South and not win the division by eight games, and yet here we are. It says a lot about the Titans that they can have more promise than any other team in their division by far and still blow it by committing a zillion penalties, botching onside kicks, playing dirty as shit, losing to Jacksonville on Christmas Eve, and limping their way to a crypto-.500 finish.
By the way, it will shock you to learn that an NFL team had its season derailed thanks to a devastating injury to a young passer. REAL STUNNING TURN OF EVENTS. By Week 17 of every AFC season, it’s Tom Brady squaring off against 15 McCowns. Roger Goodell couldn’t protect a trick-or-treating basket.
Your coach: Mike… I still wanna say Munchak? There’s a Mike and K in there somewhere. Oh, right! It’s Mike Mularkey. Loved him in Bull Durham. Last year was Mularkey’s first winning season as a head coach in a dozen years. Why, it’s like Jeff Fisher never left. Stick with either man and eventually a winning season comes around like a fucking solar eclipse.
Your quarterback: Marcus Mariota, whose incredible potential is exceeded only by his terrifying fragility. It’s like if Jake Locker were actually good, but also still Jake Locker. Do you know what I mean? The team drafted Corey Davis (from Western Michigan… no GLORY BOY he… ask the Chiefs how high picks from directional Michigan schools turn out!) and brought in Eric Decker to give Mariota more weapons, which will make it all the more sad when it’s Matt Cassel throwing them the ball come Week 14.
What’s new that sucks: One of the wideouts beat the shit out of a dude at a bar on Draft Night because fans taunted him when the team drafted Davis to take his job. You also signed the defensive back that Pats fans loved to bitch about almost as much as the Tyree catch.
In brighter news, the GM has taken it upon himself to also coach! GRRRRRRRRR SO MANLY…
Robinson decides who wins one-on-one battles, which determine a practice championship belt for the offense or the defense. He broke up a fight Wednesday. On Thursday, Robinson stood between blocking dummies holding a pair of taped-together tennis rackets to obscure Marcus Mariota‘s vision and provide an obstacle.
There might not be another GM doing what Robinson does during practice.
“It’s just kind of my style,” Robinson said, via Paul Kuharsky on paulkuharsky.com. “I’m an ex coach. I like to be involved. I like for the coaches and the players to see that, hey, I’m willing to come out here and go to work and not just stand on the side and take notes. I want to be involved with those guys and show that I care about the direction that this football team is headed.”
You know, being a general manager in football is an incredibly difficult job. You have to scout players, manage the cap, constantly scour the free agent wire in case you have an emergency, act as liaison between the coaching staff and ownership, conduct a never-ending re-evaluation of your roster, and do a million other things. And yet, it’s amazing how many outright bullshitters and blatant office politicians are given this kind of job. I thought the Colts were dupes when it came to hiring a GM, but here comes Jon Robinson revolutionizing his position by standing on a tackling sled. Jesus. I give him two years.
What has always sucked: One of the amusing ongoing subplots revolving around the Titans is that heiress Amy Strunk is clearly going to sell the team, but can’t quite figure out when or how to do it. That’s how you end up with completely sincere news reports like this:
Rock star Jon Bon Jovi, who attempted to buy the Buffalo Bills and remains very interested in owning an NFL team, continues to monitor the Tennessee Titans ownership situation closely, league sources said.
I like the idea that the Titans are so lacking in relevance that they’re a designated target for Robert Kraft to gift an NFL franchise to his dad rock buddy. That would be an extremely NFL thing to happen. “Well, we can’t give Dollar Store Springsteen a REAL team like the Packers… give him the Tennessee Whatstheirfaces.” Susie Adams-Smith recently announced she’s selling a third of this team. JonBon will be waiting silently in his Middleton Township command center, ready to offer three gold records and a leather fringe jacket. HE IS MONITORING EVENTS CLOSELY.
By the way, thanks to the Falcons, you people can no longer lay claim to having the most painful Super Bowl defeat for an anodyne Southern NFL team. Big blow. But really, what does it matter? The Titans are, at any given moment, the ninth most popular football team in the state of Tennessee. This is a lame team, playing in uniforms reserved for bad movies that can’t secure NFL licensing rights, staging games in a lame city filled with transplants and posers who are either too redneck or too broke to make the full move to L.A. Besides, Nashville is a hukkey town now. GO PREDS!
[5,000 Tomi Lahrens gather outside arena to listen to Brad Paisley earnestly sing the Nationwide jingle before a matchup with the Penguins]
What might not suck: They’re good. If Mariota stays intact (LOL), this team is genuinely good. Kinda cruel that they’re gonna be wasted on Nashville. We should airlift them to San Diego or something.
Did you know? Fuck Clay Travis with a hot chicken leg.
HEAR IT FROM TITANS FANS!
Last year, we had a chance to make our first playoff appearance since 2008. Mariota’s leg snapped in half while dynamic duo of Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage led Houston to a division title. My Eddie George jersey did get some love at a recent 90's bar crawl though. So there’s that.
The last time I was excited about the Titans was when Kerry Collins led the team to a 13-0 record before dropping 2 of the last 3 and losing in the first playoff game. Looking it up just now, I was shocked that was all the way back in 2008. It’s been a goddamn decade.
I have no doubt that no matter how good this team actually ends up being, we’ll still go 2-4 in the worst division in football.
We are the only team in the history of the NFL whose defense allowed Johnny Football to throw two TDs in the same game.
Anyone remember the last time they beat the Jaguars multiple times in the regular season? That would be 2008.
God I love the Titans but I once saw a guy with “TENNESSEE STYLE” tattooed across his goddamn shins. That is some shit right there.
Remember in Gremlins, how Phoebe Cates’s dad dressed up in a Santa costume one Christmas Eve, slid down the chimney, and broke his neck, where he remained unnoticed until his family smelled his festering corpse? Imagine how awful and traumatic that must have been for her. Well, that’s pretty much how I felt the night that the Jacksonville Jaguars and fucking Randy Bullock stole Christmas from me.
We know Mariota is screwed. The only question is if the preordained season-ending injury will come from a roids-addled JJ Watt body slamming him or from being mowed down by drunken bachelorettes on a pedal tavern. I just hope it happens after the Predators’ new season starts.
I wasn’t sure if you’d done them yet because I literally remember like 2 things about their season last year.
At the end of last year’s season, all we had to do to make the playoffs was beat the Jaguars. The fucking Jaguars. We lost and our star QB broke his leg. We let Jacksonville ruin our season and Christmas.
I really want Gnash to beat the shit out of T-Rac at a game. People would be thrilled.
Last season we went 9-7 and narrowly missed the playoffs. You know why we narrowly missed the playoffs? Because we got fucking WRECKED by the goddamn Jaguars. Fuck you, Santa.
Instead of getting high and forgetting the disaster that just took place, I talked myself into watching the Sunday night game between the Texans and the Bengals. A Texans defeat would make the following week’s 17 matchup between us and them the defacto division title game. It was the worst game I have ever seen. And I watched every single play of that unholy dumpster fire only to see the Bengals miss the game winning FG as time expired. By then I was too drunk to bother calling my dealer again.
My buddy since middle school and I decide to get decent seats to the Titans @ Colts game at Lucas Oil. I try and go to this game every year as an easy way to see my guys play live. This happened to be the year before Andrew Luck, when they were winless. 2011. Before the game I told Tom “The most Titans thing to do would be to give you guys your first win of the year just because I’m in attendance.”
Flash forward through a very boring three quarters of all these Colts fans looking depressed...when it happens. The Colts string together a few good drives and I can feel the energy in Lucas Oil picking up, classic cliche sports movie stuff. Then, up five or so, Donald Brown takes it 80 fucking yards to the house and they go up 12. The Titans end up losing to Dan Orlovsky and miss out on the playoffs. My friend Tom still loves to tell that story to his fellow Colts fans.
No matter how shitty the rest of our division is in any particular year, we can never take advantage.
Our receivers are either extremely young and raw or old and ineffective. We have a terrible track record developing our young receivers, so naturally we drafted an FBS receiver in the first round.
Jeff Fisher’s mediocre essence will perpetually taint this team.
I was gifted tickets to a Titans-Broncos game for my birthday last year. I live in Ohio, so it was a six hour drive down to Nashville, where my friend and I got drunk on Broadway Street the night before the game. The next morning, we trudged hungover to a brunch place about 15 minutes from the stadium, planning to walk to the stadium about a half hour before kickoff. At 12:15, I take my phone out at the table to set my fantasy lineup and, to my bewilderment, find that all of the games are in progress. It hadn’t occurred to my friend and I at ALL that we had travelled back into the central time zone, and therefore the game started at noon instead of 1:00. We missed the first 10 minutes of the game, which meant missing the only touchdown scored by either side for the whole contest. Did I mention this was my first NFL game I’ve ever attended? This story I tell you is a good representation of Titans fans as a whole. Hungover and stupid.
Fuck Taylor Lewan, and fuck Sheldon Day with Brian Kelly’s headset.
Adelphia Collise...wait, LP Fiel-...wait, Nissan Stadium might as well build a landing strip next to the gates, because home games are essentially vacation destinations for visiting fans. Of the 31 other teams in the league, the Jags are the only visiting fans that don’t control the narrative inside the stadium. And even when the Jags are in town, we both just kind of look at each other and say, “Well....whatever” with an affable shrug.
Half of the stadium just hangs out on the concourse in the back of the end zones getting hammered and then if there is a roar from the five people watching the game, everyone just looks up at the big screen to catch the replay.
A few weeks back I was in the airport and DeMarco Murray was sitting there at the gate and literally NO ONE noticed. And not in the cool way where it’s like hey we’re not going to bother the famous person. Here sits our star running back, a physical freak (seriously he looks like he’s cut from diamond), and our fat, diabetic, SEC OR DEATH contingent of local idiots simply do not notice. You are more likely to meet a Colts or Broncos “fan” in Nashville because I shit you not, people are “Peyton” fans.
This will of course all change if the Titans make the playoffs this year. You could’ve wiped out 80% of the Nashville population if you’d dropped a bomb on the Preds Merch Store during their run. Bandwagoners of the highest order.
And it makes sense! Nashville is basically drowning in recent transplants. Valueless bros from Indiana or Illinois or Iowa or any other shitty “I” state. Man buns and tank tops and TOMS and backwards hats. Vapid, Coachella-reject girls that lap up Nashville’s new Instagram culture. OMG DID YOU KNOW THERES AN ATM FOR CUPCAKES?!?!
The Titans are the team Nashville deserves. A city with no identity gets a team with no identity. Mariota has the personality of a lamp shade. The giant player banners hanging from the stadium still have McNair and Eddie George on them. And one of Jurrell Casey where he looks like he’s skipping through a daisy field chasing butterflies.
Nashville has become fully insufferable. If you’re reading this and you’re new to town, just know that I hate you. The Titans are maybe good (?) now and that’s the worst possible outcome.
Titan Up. (Fuck I hate that phrase)
I had to watch the Titans blow their season to the fucking Jaguars, 38-17, on Christmas Eve last year. This team went 2-4 in the grossest division in the NFL.
I have actual optimism for the coming season, which means that the anguish from losing to the Colts and Texans will be even greater. Even the best offensive line in the league couldn’t keep Mariota from breaking his leg, and with two season-ending injuries in consecutive years, the greatest fear is him going 3-for-3. I do like Mariota, but he seems a bit boring. If you watch that gif of the offensive line chugging beers at the Predators game, he looks like an RA looking the other way while the rowdy frat boys are pounding beers.
- The most beloved play in franchise history was an illegal forward pass. And we all know it. Does that stop me from doubling down against rabid Bills fans (inexplicably, I live in Upstate New York) every Sunday at my shitty local wing/sports bar? Hell no it doesn’t. Because that is the apex of Titans history. It never got better. And that’s all we have.
- The most notorious play in franchise history is how close we came when we LOST (read: couldn’t force overtime in) the Super Bowl.
- The most beloved player in franchise history got himself whacked on the 4th of July in what most closely resembles a bad Lifetime movie murder-suicide with his 20-year-old mistress (years after being locked out of the team facility and cut while still effective and useful)
- Jake Locker, Vince Young, Kenny Britt, LenDale White, Pacman Jones, Chris Henry, Andre Woolfolk, Tyron Calico, Courtney Roby.
- We unleashed the “Jeff Fisher is a competent coach” narrative on the league. Seriously fuck us for this.
- Mike Mularkey is still our coach. Somehow, in a turn of universal assbackwards happenstance, the NFL was confused in 2016 by his “Exotic Smashmouth” offense, and we stumbled to a 9-7 record. We will now be forced to watch this run-first slog fest until it hits entropy in Week 12 and we inevitably choke ourselves on a never-ending loop of 3-and-outs from our own 20-yard line.
- Our New England retread GM drafted a 5'9" return man to start at corner, opposite Logan “third best CB on the Patriots” Ryan, who he already gave $10M/year to. Don’t forget we also plucked Jonathan Cyprien! Who’s he, you might ask? Of course a run-stopping, can’t defend the pass, box-safety who the Jaguars didn’t want. This can only end well.
- Every single Titans fan is creaming themselves this year after finally drafting/signing pass-catchers for our franchise quarterback to throw to (Davis, Taylor, Decker). Davis and Taylor spent college dominating the MAC and CUSA. And Decker is a walking injury the Jets didn’t want anymore.
- Our 2016 draft sleeper (fuck you Dave Richard) Tajae Sharpe went roadhouse on a guy’s face for heckling him about him losing playing time. Sebastian Tretola, our backup guard, apparently stood watch while Sharpe rearranged the guy’s face. Same fat backup, two months later: shot in the ankle outside a bar in Fayetteville.
- Titan’s are every keyboard-jockey’s favorite “playoff sleeper” this year. Inevitably the universe will hand down a 5-11 shitstain season.
- Fireworks damaged our [namebrand] Stadium. If our seats literally lighting on fire isn’t an omen, I don’t know what is.
- We get new uniforms in 2018, which will somehow be more-dated and 90s looking than what we already trot out in. And our flaming thumbtack of a logo will remain, because fuck nice things.
- Our ownership will continue to operate against one-owner controlled NFL guidelines until the worst-kept secret in the league is spilled and the team is put up for sale. In getting what we deserve, mullet-rocker Jon Bon Jovi will buy the team and a new circle of hell will be created.
- We will continue to lose to the Colts and Texans inexplicably every season, no matter the roster construction or talent level on either sideline. Fuck the AFC South.
The Titans suck because if they get to the Super Bowl, all of the random, organic joy that would result will be sucked out of the world by Atomic Fuckstick Clay Travis, who will declare himself mayor of Nashville, very cleverly rename it #DBAPville, and accuse our Super Bowl opponent’s best black player of reverse racism because he found a video of a different black person rapping along with Drake.
Also, the Titans suck because their uniforms look like they were designed using the original iteration of Microsoft Word clip art and a tri-color printer.
There is finally hype surround the Titans! Now’s the time to have a shit season. As fans, we are basing the success of our team on the fact that Mariota will remain healthy, which he won’t. Our first rounder is only good as his recovering ankle injury and Taylor Lewan will compile more penalties this coming year than the entire rest of the league combined.
Everyone already has a raging chub for this team and what they “know” they can accomplish. These are the same folks who believed UT would coast to 10 easy wins last year, so they know their stuff! If they make it to week 7 without Mariota’s leg disintegrating at the kneecap I’ll call it a step in the right direction. Fuck Matt Cassel with Charlie Sheen’s dick.
This team has been so bad, so utterly invisible for almost 10 years that I still have trouble remembering why we’ve sucked from 2009 on. All these preseason team rankings listing the Titans in the top 10 (some in the top 5!!) are insane to me. Maybe this is the year that we really do rip one off and go on a crazy run, but odds are against it. Even signing Logan Ryan at CB, we still can’t cover most teams’ 3rd best WR, let alone guys like TY Hilton, Andre Hopkins or Allen Robinson 2x a year.
When things start looking up with this team I always get nervous. The best prediction is that the Titans embody the new Nashville norm: a sloppy bachelorette party that looks like fun for moments, but ultimately ends up puking on a honky tonk dance floor and heading home early.
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