NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- There is a certain safety from being at the top of the depth chart on a bad team.
Screw up, and the pressure from the guy behind you on a thin roster may not be so great.
Antonio Andrews is benefiting from such safety with the Tennessee Titans. He made a huge mistake against the Patriots that left Marcus Mariota with a sprained right knee, out for Week 16 against the Texans and in doubt for the season finale in Indianapolis.
On a third-and-7 from the New England 23-yard line, Andrews lined up to the left of Mariota, who was in shotgun. Pre-snap, virtually straight ahead of Andrews was Collins, lined up between left tackle Taylor Lewan and left guard Quinton Spain.
Andrews was supposed to deal with Collins, frustrated interim coach Mike Mularkey said after the game. Andrews said it was a late call and he got it wrong.
“I thought I heard one call, it was another, and they changed it last minute,” he said. “It is what it is. … It sucks, but you’ve just got to move on from it.”
So what’s the consequence?
“I look at the big picture, third down the whole year with all the backs,” Mularkey said. “He, by far, has been the most consistent protector as far as blocking the right people and blocking the right people the right way. He clearly is our best guy on third down at doing that.
“Obviously, it was a mistake that got our quarterback injured. It was not purposely done. Like I told these guys [Monday] morning, Tre McBride did not drop the kickoff on purpose. There is no intent to hurt our football team, they made mistakes. We’ve got to move on from them, we’ve got to learn from them, and hopefully, you get better because of it. But he has protected, for the most part, pretty well all year.”
Andrews could do better taking blame and understanding the messages he sends with the way he reacts. He seems pretty nonchalant to me.
A week earlier he took a you-win-some, you-lose-some tact after the Titans loss to the Jets. That bought him the ire of many Titans fans, who didn’t care for a 50-50 assessment of what had just become a 3-10 team.
It is 3-11 now, and without its quarterback.
And Andrews isn’t at risk of being replaced as the third down back, because the rest of the Titans backs are no good on third down.