We’ve all heard the saying….”It’s not what happens to you, but how you respond to it that determines your character.”
And that certainly applies to the 2018 Tennessee Titans and first year head coach Mike Vrabel.
Put yourself in his shoes for a minute. You work your way up to your dream job….head coach of an NFL franchise, and in your first week of training camp you lose your starting safety for the season.
A few days later you lose your first round draft pick middle linebacker and your multiple Pro Bowl starting outside linebacker for the entire preseason.
Your second round draft pick, also a linebacker, suffers an ankle injury in the third preseason game that causes him to miss the all-important season opener.
In that season opener, multiple rain delays drags the game out to an NFL record 7 hours and 8 minutes, and after all of that….you still lose.
But not just the game, you also lose your starting quarterback to an elbow injury, your starting Pro Bowl left tackle to a concussion, and your Pro Bowl tight end and best receiving threat for the season with an ankle injury.
Oh, and by the way, your next two opponents are division rivals that most prognosticators have picked ahead of you in their division rankings.
I’m sure that Vrabel must have thought that a black cat crossed his path on the way to signing his contract.
But wait….there’s more.
Already down your starting tackles, tight end, and quarterback, your most reliable back up tackle becomes ill just days before your week 2 home opener and is unable to go.
Now you have to face J.J. Watt and company with your backup qb and your fourth and fifth tackles on the depth chart….something rarely seen in today’s NFL.
In week 3, against arguably the best defense in the AFC (if not the NFL) you lose your backup qb in the first quarter and have to go back to your injured starter…who was the emergency backup.
You follow all of that?
And with that said, your team shows it’s resilience and true character by knocking off the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars with smoke, mirrors, duct tape, and good ol fashioned belief in one another.
With everything I just laid out, no one would blame the Titans for being 0-3 and staring down the barrel of a 2014-2015 type of season.
Instead, and improbably, the Titans are 2-1 and leading the AFC South with a perfect 2-0 division record.
This team has already endeared itself to its fan base with an inspiring performance the last two weeks, and the roster is still a shell of itself.
Marcus Mariota is not yet back to 100%, and neither is rookie linebacker Rashaan Evans. All Pro right tackle Jack Conklin is also set to return soon, and receiver Rishard Matthews is still working his way back into playing shape after missing the entire offseason.
Translation….the future is looking bright again for the boys in two-tone blue.