No one in their right mind really expected the Tennessee Titans to go into Foxborough and beat the New England Patriots on Sunday, and many thought the outcome might be similar to the last time the Titans visited Gillette Stadium. Instead the Titans played well enough to walk away with a respectible 33-16 defeat for their eleventh loss of the season.
While the Titans didn't win, they might have disappointed some people because they kept the game closer than that 59-0 beating from 2009.
At the same time, thought they kept things respectible, there were some other things that are perhaps more disturbing than the latest loss.
When looking at and evaluating the Titans 2015 season, we continually come back to the fact that this offensive line is a mess. Yes I know mess might be an understatement, but I truly like some of the guys on the line personally and I want to be tough yet fair in my evaluations and comments.
Amy Adams-Strunk issued the edict to better protect the quarterback following the dismissal of former head coach Ken Whisenhunt. The order was followed for the most parts since that time, but on Sunday the Titans struggled against the Patriots to protect Marcus Mariota, leading to him sustaining another knee injury when he was sacked by Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins in the second quarter.
To his credit, interim head coach Mike Mularkey made the sensible decision that his predecessor did not, to keep Mariota out for the remaineder of the game and protect the franchise.
Zach Mettenberger played well in relief, though his two interceptions were costly. Still e threw two touchdown passes and had the Titans in a better than expected position late in the game.
Mettenberger did this in spite of contniued struggles by the offensive line to protect him as he was sacked and pressured throughout the second half.
Lewan and Warmack are the cornerstones of the offensive line and should be the two best players in that group.. However their struggles have hurt the Titans at times.
Some of their struggles could be because of the revolving doors of players that the have lined up with this season. The offensive line needs to be a cohesive unit and the injuries have certainly stunted their ability to become that type unit.
Still though there needs to be an improvement in the talent on the line before next season.
Schwenke has had his opportunites and has not developed into the type center this team needs. Gallik is a rookie and has not necessarily had enough time to know if he is the answer for sure or not. Still there might be some bigger, better options to explore this off season.
Regardless of those things, it is clear that the Titans must find the answer at center, left guard and right tackle then have Lewan and Warmack become the players the Titans envisioned when they selected both in the first round.
I consider myself a bit of a draft guy in that I study players and do my own evaluations and scouting reports.
To that end and in light of the Titans issues on the offensive line, it might be wise for the Titans to invest in a new first round pick on the offensive line. Adding a player like Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil to play left tackle and moving Lewan to the right side could be the first step- along with finding a veteran center in free-agency- to fixing the issues they have up front.
The Titans need a lot of help and talent upgrades throughout the roster, and while players like Jalen Ramsey, Laquan Treadwell, Joey Bosa and others could be a valuable additions, Tunsil might just be the best addition possible to solve the team's most glaring issue and helps protect the franchise quarterback.
This might seem a bit redundant because the line has been an issue all year, but with the latest injury to Mariota it now becomes more evident that this issue has to be addressed sooner rahter than later.
Regardless of if it is Ruston Webster or someone else in the general managers office come drat day, the Titans must fix the offensive line first and then find answers for the rest of their pressing needs.
Things have to happen ad fast. the window for Mariota is opening and the organization can't allow too much time to pass before they get him the help he needs.