FOXBORO, Mass. _ In some ways, Marcus Mariota in his frustration over Saturday’s 35-14 loss to the Patriots may have hit the nail on the head in describing the Tennessee Titans’ fortunes this season.
In describing the Titans’ up-and-down season that ended in the AFC Divisional Playoffs, Mariota pointed out one of the team’s biggest shortcomings on the season – its inconsistency.
“We have a lot of areas to improve,” said Mariota, who went 22 of 37 for 254 yards and two touchdown passes. “I think throughout this entire season, we didn’t play a complete game of football. One phase plays well, the other one doesn’t. And again tonight, we just didn’t make enough plays.”
Tight end Delanie Walker agreed that the offense never really jelled as it was supposed to this season.
“We talked about it every week, that that week was going to be the week that the offense played one of the best games we’ve played. And we haven’t done that this year, obviously now we’re done,” Walker said.
The loss to the top-seeded Patriots was also a bit of a measuring stick for the franchise to see how it fared against the best the AFC (and perhaps the NFL) has to offer.
“They don’t make a lot of mistakes. You can’t go in there and beat yourself. I’d like to see if we could play a complete game to see how we measure up, but it’s hard to do that since we didn’t,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said.
While the Titans didn’t have any turnovers in the loss (they didn’t force any either), they came up way short in all phases Saturday night. The defense gave up 31 first downs and 337 yards passing to Tom Brady, and did not sack him once on the night.
Offensively, which has been a sore spot most of the year, the Titans allowed Mariota to be sacked eight times, and managed just 267 total net yards. The running game had only 65 yards, with Mariota providing 31 of that on his own with three scrambles.
Offensive woes appear to be the more critical issue for the Titans.
“As a team we have a lot to improve on. I think we showed that a lot throughout the year with inconsistent play on offense. At times our defense struggled, but for the most part carried our team,” tackle Taylor Lewan said. “Our special teams, I think were pretty good all year, but as an offense, I’ll be the first one to say that we underachieved this year.
“To make it this far, that’s extremely promising, but we can’t do that again in the 2018 season. We’ve got to come out guns a blazing. We have the firepower to do it. It’s just a matter of getting it done.”
Rookie receiver Corey Davis, who scored his first two NFL touchdowns in the playoff loss, also pointed to the offense’s inconsistency in 2017.
“As an offense I feel like we’ve got a lot of weapons, got a lot of potential, but we’ve just got to use it. The sky’s the limit for us, but we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Davis said. “We’ve got a lot to learn. We’ve just got to use our weapons and use them the right ways. We haven’t played our best game, and it’ll be scary once we get it clicking.”