Biggest challenge for Titans is getting back on the field

Friday, October 9, 2020, Vol. 44, No. 41

First down: Conquer COVID. The Titans were handed an unexpected bye week instead of playing the Steelers, and their preparation for the Bills – provided that will be played – will no doubt be different from any the Titans have prepared for.

What players will be available? What coaches will be able to coach? How healthy will the players who can return and play be from a conditioning standpoint? All fair questions that the Titans must get a grasp on, and likely while practicing at least part of the week in a virtual setting rather than in person.

Second down

Assess the situation. The Titans probably don’t know who they will have if they get to play against the Bills. But the biggest potential problems – at least from a personnel standpoint – could be at the receiver position with Adam Humphries and Cam Batson on the COVID list, and on the defensive line, where their best two players – Jeffery Simmons and DaQuan Jones – are in the COVID protocol.

While reserves and practice squad players can be brought up to fill roster spots, the impact of losing multiple key players at multiple positions is extremely detrimental to the Titans’ plans.

Third down

Go with what works. The Titans must go back to basics, especially knowing that they go in short-handed against the Bills. That means turning the game over to the offensive line and Derrick Henry and trying to impose their will on a tough Buffalo defense that might be hard to run on.

But an inspiring day from Henry and the offense might be just the solution for a Titans team that has been in tough situations before, but never like this.

Fourth down

Pray and hope for the best. With all the Titans have been through, they need a return to normalcy as soon as possible. Lost in all the COVID crackdown is the fact that this team is 3-0 and definitely a contender to win the AFC South.

That’s also why the games that are being affected – Pittsburgh and now Buffalo – are so vital. These games – win or lose – could determine playoff qualification, seeding and could be the difference between hosting a postseason game or being on the road.

In January, the Titans don’t want to look back at what happened and realize how much it cost them in trying to set things up for the postseason.

-- Terry McCormick