It was more than just a win for the Tennessee Titans on Sunday when Marcus Mariota connected with tight end Anthony Fasano for a five yard touchdown to defeat the New Orleans Saints in overtime 34-28 inside the Mercedez-Benz Superdome, it was vindication for many.
Over the last few weeks the groundswell of fans blistering the Titans organization, coaches and players was growing. Fans complained that the Titans were a rudderless ship with no direction from ownership. They wanted the head coach fired and questioned the effort and ability of various players on the roster.
Tuesday Amy Adams-Strunk dropped the first domino in a week that could change this franchise forever.
The firing of former head coach Ken Whisenhunt not only satisfied the fans cries for the coaches head, but also showed that perhaps ownership does have at least some clue as to what is going on in Nashville while they reside in their Texan mansions.
One thing is clear, Adams-Strunk and the remainder of ownership realize they have a potential star on Mariota, and he must be protected at all cost.
Whisenhunt was not doing that. Proof of that rest in the film of the seven sacks Mariota endured in Cleveland and the fact that he was left in the Miami game even after suffereing a knee injury that would sideline him for two weeks after.
The final straw however had nothing to do with Mariota.
A week ago it was Zach Mettenberger who endured a beating at the hands of the Houston Texans when Mettenberger was sacked seven times and hit another seven time sduring the game.
Adams-Stunk could not ignore the fact that Whisenhunts offense and stubborn refusal to change was endangering her prized rookies, and another valuable commodity in Mettenberger.
Now one week later Adams-Strunk is vindicated for her decision in spite of what some NFL talking head said about the firing of Whisenhunt. Those experts questioned why you would fire your coach just five games into the developement of a true franchise quarterbacks career. They were wrong and Adams- Strunk was right.
Interim head coach Miek Mularkey, who took over for the deposed Whisenhunt on Tuesday got the message loud and clear, protect our quarterbacks, no matter who is in the game, but especially Mariota.
Mularkey and company went to work on Wednesday with the specific mission to fix the offensive line. They had just three days of practice time to fix the biggest issue on the team and at least for one week that mission seems to have been accomplished.
The Saints pass rush managed to hit Mariota on a few occasions on Sunday, but he was never sacked and had the necessary time to stand in the pocket and deliver the football while setting his career high in passing yards and tying his career mark in touchdown passes in a single game. Not bad for a revamped offensive line with a rookie, a journeyman and a player who was an unemployed free-agent on the street just two weeks ago.
This team is still not a title contender, but what Mularkey proved today was that the right style of play and game plan could produce wins with this team.
We have heard that rookie wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham did not know the playbook well enough to be a factor in the gameplan and games. It took Mularkey jsut three practices to get him caught up on the playbook apparently. It's more likely that Mularkey and offensive coordinator Jason Michael simply put DGB in positions where he was comfortable and took advantage of his nature ability in the process.
While Delanie Walker lead the team in receptions on Sunday, it was Green-Beckham who set career highs in both receptions (5) and yards (77) in a game. Not bad for a guy who couldn't learn the playbook enough to be a factor just one week ago.
The Titans have a ways to go to become a good football team, but one simple change was enough to show players and fans that ownership is involved, at least to some point and to show the fans that some of the players they questioned under Whisenhunt were not the issue.
Vindication is a sweet thing, even if just for a week, but until next Sunday the Titans can once again feel good and celebrate a much needed win.