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VOL. 38 | NO. 47 | Friday, November 21, 2014

Remember when Titans had home-field advantage?

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There really are two ways to look at the remainder of the Tennessee Titans 2014 season and how the bleak present could affect the uncertain future of this franchise.

As Steelers fans waved their Terrible Towels at LP Field Monday night, Titans fans watched as their terrible team had another terrible trial in falling to 2-8.

So, where do the Titans go from here? What is there to build upon going forward after watching another visiting team take over LP Field, something that should gnaw at the very soul of Titans ownership.

Once upon a time, the late Bud Adams ditched his lease at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis a year early because the place had been overrun with black and gold for one of his team’s home games.

What would he have thought to see LP Field overtaken the same way in front of a national television audience on Monday Night Football?

Probably the same as many other Titans fans in asking, just how did things fall to this level, and what is there left to be encouraged about with this franchise going forward?

With six games left and no shot at the playoffs with their 2-8 mark, the final six games – following Monday night’s fourth-quarter collapse against the Steelers – are really a fact-finding mission for Coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Ruston Webster to determine who fits and who doesn’t for 2015 and beyond.

Think of the rest of 2014 as a head start on what has to change for this organization to find some measure of respectability again.

On the positive side, the Titans fought hard and played pretty well for the first time in months in going toe-to-toe with the Steelers, even building an 11-point lead through three quarters.

But – there’s always a but with the Titans, isn’t there? – it marked the third time this season that the team has blown a lead and let a winnable game get away.

Granted, few expected the Titans to hang with the Steelers as well as they did, but this team has yet to show that it can finish games that are there for the taking.

Truth is, other than Zach Mettenberger’s pick six to William Gay on the first play from scrimmage for Tennessee, the Titans probably played about as close to their potential as they could. The discouraging part of that is that it still wasn’t enough for them to come away with a victory.

If you’re a glass-half-full person, then going forward, you should be encouraged by the progress that Mettenberger has made in just three starts as the Titans regular quarterback.

If he continues to build upon what he has done from start to start, then he should be able to end the revolving door at quarterback that has existed for nearly a decade.

Now is the time to point out that only once in the past 11 seasons has the same quarterback led the Titans in passing two years in a row. And that was Vince Young in 2006-07.

If Mettenberger can show the poise he has displayed thus far and learn the finer points of the position, then the Titans may just have solved the quarterback issue.

And to that end, it should be a positive that the Titans are getting adequate production from other members of the 2014 draft class, Taylor Lewan, Bishop Sankey and Avery Williamson, all of whom are now starters.

But back to the half-empty part of the equation, it is painfully evident to those who watch the Titans that, despite a good rookie class, there have been too many misses in recent drafts for this team to contend anytime soon.

The rebuilding process is only beginning, and it certainly looks like another draft or two on par with this year’s group – plus a few wise free agent moves – will be needed to put the Titans back in position to contend down the road.

Bottom line: The erosion of this franchise didn’t happen overnight, and the restoration of this team to respectability and playoff contention is a long-term project.

Tommy Smith, Titans president and CEO, who was in attendance Monday night, said in recent interviews that he expects a playoff berth and a Super Bowl soon.

It’s nice that he has set such lofty goals. But before he starts planning parades and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, he might want to just see if he can improve things enough so that the fans who are in the stands are rooting for the home team again.

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com and is a blogger for 247 Sports NFL Insider.

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