Titans still struggling to create strong, deep, broad fan connection

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A year ago this week, the Titans were 8-4 with a December disaster and the first playoff berth for the franchise in 11 years both looming.

Even so, there was a strong disconnect between the team and the town, and the story of whether Mike Mularkey might lose his job ran on a parallel track to whether the Titans would play in the postseason.

Those two plots held, honestly, roughly equal interest.FanJets

Both came true – with the Titans advancing to the divisional round of the playoffs where they lost at New England on Jan. 13 and parted ways with Mularkey two days later.

Amy Adams Strunk and Jon Robinson sought a coach who could take the Titans further and would bring the team a more modern feel, better maximizing the talent.

The story has not been entirely written. And it’s not all about the short term.

But with a quarter of this season left, this version of the Titans has not been more exciting than the last with any regularity. It’s been inconsistent and unpredictable. It’s produced 10 fewer points through a dozen games than last year’s team. Ten fewer points that an archaic, anemic offense that was a huge issue in 2017, that got a coach and his staff fired.

The big difference from a year ago is defensive, with 57 fewer points allowed.

With a few exceptions, the playing style has not transformed into anything special to watch.

The disconnect remains.

A Twitter poll is hardly scientific, but when I published this piece, 71 percent of Titans fans who responded to mine said their connection to the team is the same or worse than last year.

Only 29 percent feel it's better.Screen Shot 2018 12 04 at 7.51.44 AM

Mike Vrabel’s team pulled it out against the Jets and there were some good things – Marcus Mariota deep balls to Taywan Taylor, the coach's clever penalty to stop the clock, Corey Davis’ second game-winning catch this season. Still, it's hard for the prevailing takeaway not to be the size of the struggle against a really bad Jets team.

The membership at our site isn’t representative of all of Titans’ fandom. But I’ve sent a note to those who’ve left during the season telling them I was sorry to lose them and asking if there was anything I could have done better to have held on to them.

Most responses read like this one: “The problem is that I'm not enjoying the games anymore. I really thought they had turned a corner last year and we were in for a few good years. Then they fired Mularkey and we are asked to endure stuff like the Buffalo loss in the name of some potential ultimate improvement.

apple icon 144x144 precomposed“The Indy loss was just as bad in my mind and it was the last straw for me. So, I decided to disconnect from the team for a while. I'm sure I'll come back again but not this year. I'll see how I feel next fall.”

Now the Titans are selling 1,000 tickets to Thursday night’s game at Nissan Stadium with a tie-in to a sponsor. For $20 you get a ticket and a $10 voucher for food thanks to TwiceDaily through Titansonline.com.

It’s smart. The team is doing what it can and what it needs to help get people in the building.

But it is also a piece of the story telling us about the connection level between the Titans and their fans heading into Week 14 of Year 1 of the Vrabel Era.

It’s still nothing close to what the Titans want and it to be.

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