INDIANAPOLIS —Six thoughts after Sunday's 30-24 loss to the Colts:
The Titans played with back-up quarterbacks Zach Mettenberger and Alex Tanney, but the team showed some imagination on offense. There was the designed QB run by Mettenberger that went for a touchdown, along with a "Statue of Liberty" play designed for tight end Delanie Walker, a play that went for 36 yards. The Titans tried a shovel pass (it didn't work), and went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1 (it worked, as running David Cobb scored a touchdown.)
The Titans stayed in a lot of games early because of their defense, but the unit let them down in the final six weeks of the season. The Titans couldn't get a late stop in a 24-21 loss to the Raiders, and the defense finished off the year by allowing 30 points or more in the final five games of the year – Jaguars (39), Jets (30), Patriots (33), Texans (34) and Colts (30). The Colts put up 30 on the Titans twice. Back in September it was forgivable, considering Andrew Luck was at QB. Josh Freeman and Ryan Lindley shouldn't have been able to do it.
The Titans promoted receiver Tre McBride from the practice squad late in the season, and while he didn't have a huge impact on offense, he showed a lot of spunk on special teams. McBride made two nice plays on coverage teams on Sunday, and he was regularly the first guy around the football. It came a week after his first career touchdown catch against the Texans. McBride should get a chance to compete for more playing time in 2016.
Props to tight end Delanie Walker, who set a great example for his teammates all season. Walker reached two milestones on Sunday – he became the first TE in franchise history to reach 1,000 receiving yards, and he also became the 9th TE in NFL history to record a 90-catch season. Walker did it while sacrificing his body across the middle, absorbing countless hits, and he never vented during a frustrating season.
This time last year, a good portion of the fan base wanted the Titans to stick with Mettenberger. The thought of drafting Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston turned the stomach of some fans. Well, it's clear the Titans did the right thing. While it's not all on Mettenberger, he's now 0-10 as a starter and he's failed to make huge improvements when he's played. Don't get me wrong, I still think Mettenberger is talented. But Mariota was the right pick and No.2 in last year's draft, and there's no doubt about it.
Need more playmakers
I asked Walker last week if he wanted to be a 90-catch guy every season, and he smiled. Of course he wants the football. But even Walker was quick to point out if he's getting the ball that often, then something else probably isn't working on offense. The Titans need more weapons on the offensive side of the ball, especially at the receiver position. It should be one of the team's biggest priorities in free agency and the draft.