Thursday game gives Titans no time to fix mistakes
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)
His teammates pretty much agree.
Knowing the problem and fixing it is proving much tougher than the Titans (1-4) expected. They also have no time to dwell on how quickly this season has gone so wrong because the Pittsburgh Steelers visit Thursday night.
''We don't look like a good team, so I wouldn't sit here and say that we're close,'' Johnson said Monday.
That's one good thing about the quick turnaround for coaches and players who want to erase the bad memories of the first five weeks.
''It's frustrating,'' coach Mike Munchak said. ''Believe me, we're frustrated a lot of ways just like the fans are, which they should be. We know this is our big opportunity to hopefully change the opinion of a lot of people by how we play on Thursday night.''
Tennessee went 9-7 in Munchak's first season as head coach in 2011, just missing a wild-card berth on a tiebreaker, and the coach said he sees probably more talent on this roster.
Unfortunately, these Titans can't hold onto the football offensively, the defense struggles to tackle and now discipline is becoming an issue with 10 penalties in a 30-7 loss at Minnesota. Munchak said he believes he has the right coaches and players to turn this season around.
''We haven't shown that the first five weeks,'' Munchak said. ''We realize that. We're responsible for what's happening out there, and we're the only ones that can fix it.''
The Titans can blame a tough early schedule, facing teams with a combined record of 15-8. Tennessee's lone win came against the only opponent currently with a losing mark, and the Titans needed overtime to edge Detroit (1-3). Down the stretch, the Titans play only two teams currently with winning records in Chicago and Houston.
That offers no hope unless the Titans dramatically clean up their act.
No NFL offense hold the ball less than Tennessee at 24 minutes, 50 seconds per game, and only five teams score fewer points per game than the Titans. Previously, it seemed the running game was the biggest issue. Against Minnesota, even the normally sure-handed Johnson fumbled, and Matt Hasselbeck was intercepted on the next series.
''That's been a big thing,'' tight end Jared Cook said. ''We've kind of been shooting ourselves in the foot a lot. We're just not moving the ball like we did last year. We're a better team than that. We know that. We're just not doing what we need to do.''
Against Pittsburgh (2-2), the Titans will play their second straight game with Hasselbeck at quarterback while Jake Locker heals up after dislocating his left, non-throwing shoulder Sept. 30. Munchak said it doesn't make sense to dress Locker either, so they are holding him to see how he is for a trip Oct. 21 to Buffalo.
Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray is being criticized heavily for a unit that has given up an NFL-worst 181 points, though the 30 allowed to Minnesota was the fewest given up in a game so far by Tennessee. Cornerback Jason McCourty said the poor play can be blamed on the players.
''Coach Gray can do but so much by calling plays,'' McCourty said. ''It's up to us once the play comes in to execute and make a play. There were times the running back was squirting out or we gave up a pass. That's on us. ... We have to find a way to win our one-on-one matchups.''
This franchise has had plenty of ugly starts since relocating to Tennessee in 1997 with 0-6 in 2009 the worst. That season, the Titans turned to Johnson who wound up running for 2,006 yards in helping them salvage an 8-8 record. At this point, the Titans could threaten the 4-12 record of 2005 for the worst season in Tennessee.
Safety Michael Griffin said they know the fans are down on the Titans right now. Unlike 2009, he said these Titans are not turning against each other.
''We're all trying to get better,'' he said. ''In the past, you started seeing a lot of finger pointing, things of that nature. Right now we're all still together.''
Notes: The Titans had a walk-through practice Monday to start preparing for the Steelers. WR Kenny Britt (left ankle), LB Colin McCarthy (right ankle) and Locker did not practice. S Jordan Babineaux (knee) was limited along with LB Patrick Bailey (hand), CB Ryan Mouton (knee), CB Alterraun Verner (thigh) and DE Scott Solomon (hamstring).
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