The Tennessee Titans have been outscored 64-7 in the second half of contests this season. Tennessee’s offense has scored zero second-half points in consecutive victories. It nearly led to collapses against the Las Vegas Raiders and Indianapolis Colts. Tennessee’s third and fourth quarter struggles have been well documented. They represent a collective failure as opposed to one position group or coach being at fault.
In Tennessee’s three contests where they held a halftime lead, the offense wound up holding possession for just 13:42 in the third quarter combined across those three showings. Tennessee’s opponents have possessed the ball for a combined 31:18 in the third quarter. It represents a massive time of possession disparity that has directly contributed to their second-half collapses.
Many are scapegoating offensive coordinator Todd Downing. Downing hasn’t been perfect, but Tennessee’s issues are far too wide-ranging to label Downing as the outcast. Vrabel has been guilty of going into a conservative shell. The players deserve blame as well. Second-half execution has been an issue. Having rewatched the second half of the Raiders win, playcalling wasn’t an issue. Execution was. This represents a collective issue.
Tennessee’s offense was especially productive throughout the first half against the Colts in Week 4. Tennessee gained a stunning 16 first downs in the first half. Gus Bradley’s defense offered little resistance. Tennessee then totaled just three first downs, including zero in the third quarter. Ryan Tannehill and the offense gained 28 total net yards in the second half. Shane Bowen’s defense forced three turnovers and helped the Titans claim victory.
Mike Vrabel’s response to the second half performance against the Colts was lackluster.
“We won the game 24-17 and I’m excited as hell about it,” Vrabel said Sunday during his post-game presser when asked about the tale of two halves. “It’s called the National Football League. We’re excited to win a road game in the division,” Vrabel smugly concluded when pressed further.
Vrabel is technically correct. It’s difficult to win road contests in the NFL. Most NFL contests are decided by seven points or less (statistically proven) and the Titans are now an NFL-best 16-7 in contests decided by three points or less under Vrabel since 2018. Winning tightly contested contests has been a staple of Vrabel’s Titans.
All of those sentiments are accurate, but the Titans can’t ignore their second-half struggles which are becoming the norm as opposed to the exception. Vrabel and his staff must continue working towards securing improvement. They can start with a strong second-half showing against the Washington Commanders on Sunday.