Mike Herndon: Are the Titans contenders or pretenders in 2022?

By MIKE HERNDON, columnist

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Through six weeks of the 2022 NFL season, the Titans have proven to be difficult to pin down.

They’re 3-2, sitting as the third seed in the AFC if the playoffs were to begin today, but they’re also tied for 24th in the NFL in point differential, allowing 22 more points to opponents than they have scored themselves through their first five games.

Mike Vrabel

© George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

Winning three straight nailbiters against the Raiders, Colts, and Commanders has righted the ship in the win-loss column, but defining what this team really is depends heavily on the eye of the beholder.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The dynamic passing games that often carry NFL teams feature explosive wide receivers who can run away and separate from coverage or win contested catches.

The Titans simply do not have receivers who get a lot of separation or win a lot of combat catches. They play in a run-first offense, where they get high praise for blocking.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine

Pool photo/ Tennessee Titans

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Since 2015, the Titans’ have made great strides to become a more contemporary franchise, remodeling their practice facility and erecting an additional building, hiring a load of new people and creating new departments, finding steady football people and winning at a more regular clip despite coming up short of the Super Bowl.

Nissan Stadium and Spot for New Stadium

Courtesy Tennessee Titans

The next step is a new stadium, which the city of Nashville and the team officially agreed upon Monday but will still need to be signed off on by Metro Nashville city council and the Sports Authority.

The indoor, translucent, 1.7 million-square-foot venue will seat 55,000 to 60,000, enough for the NFL to bring Super Bowls to Music City, which will also draw big events like the college football National Championship Game, The Final Four, Wrestlemania and year-round concerts.

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PodcastArtNASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A new podcast episode awaits you and you can find it through the very friendly and helpful Linktree.

Whichever platform you prefer, please subscribe, rate and review.

Subjects I delve into:

  • Caleb Farley's struggles and the (silly) idea they need to play him no matter what to get him the experience he needs
  • The terrible personnel that's come in over the last two years
  • The hope for a big, in-season trade
  • Ryan Tannehill's toughness --he's taken 114 sacks through 50 games as the Titans' starting QB
  • A couple of questions from you

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Mike Herndon: At the Titans' bye, what is fixable and what isn’t?

By MIKE HERNDON, columnist

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- NFL teams usually dislike early bye weeks, but it’s hard to imagine a team needing a week off five games into a 17-week season more than the Titans do right now.

Yes, they are riding a three-game winning streak, but they’re banged up, struggling to find their footing in the passing attack, and generally looking like a team that could use a soft reset before the schedule becomes much more difficult next month.

Titans receivers

The bye week is not only an opportunity for players to heal bumps and bruises and recharge physically, but it’s also a pivotal moment in the season from a coaching standpoint. Mike Vrabel and his staff will have the chance to self-scout to figure out what is working and what needs to be tossed out.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – There is a sameness to the Titans.

Many elements of it are good, pillars they can rely on and circle back to. When it’s not quite an identity or a formula it’s still stuff they can rely on and an understanding of how to win.

Other pieces are frustratingly familiar: built-in shortcomings that must always be overcome and sidestepped.

Ryan Tannehill

As per usual, Mike Vrabel’s team is showing grit and resolve, withstanding difficult stretches and making enough key plays at key moments. That’s helped the Titans string together three consecutive wins to get to 3-2.

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Scout's take: Ryan Tannehill withstood pass rush to make key plays

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A win is a win, and those are the kind of wins the Titans have collected over the past three weeks. They haven’t been impressive but they are stacking wins and that is all that matters.

Even though there are underlying issues with this team they find a way to come out on top.

Ryan Tannehill

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, Jeffrey Simmons, Denico Autry, David Long, Ben Jones and Ryan Stonehouse kept the team on top and allowed them to keep the victory in Washington.

Veteran players played like veterans for the Titans.

Young and inexperienced players like Dennis Daley, Aaron Brewer, Dillon Radunz, Nicholas Petit-Frere, Caleb Farley, played like players who aren’t ready to compete on a winning level each week.

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Titans' defense makes a stand, but they can't win this way for long

LANDOVER, Md. – The Titans' preparation and swagger met again Sunday, this time in the West end zone of FedEx Field. Once again they produced the result Tennessee needed.

David Long

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Washington was set up for four shots to win the game with a touchdown from the 2-yard line, which surely should have been advantage Commanders. But they couldn’t finish the Titans off.

The defense they were facing in the tight red-zone space felt more confident and ultimately proved more productive.

On third down, David Long jumped Carson Wentz’s pass for J.D. McKissic and made a diving grab of the game’s only turnover, preserving the Titans' 21-17 lead and securing their third win of the season.

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