The Tennessee Titans now have plenty of motivation to play better. Owner Bud Adams has made sure of that.
The owner plans to evaluate everyone from the front office to the coaches to the players over the final seven games after the Titans lost 51-20 to Chicago, the most points allowed since a 59-0 loss to New England in 2009.
“In my 50 years of owning an NFL franchise, I am at a loss to recall a regular-season home game that was such a disappointment for myself and fans of the Titans,” Adams told The Tennessean. “We were grossly outcoached and outplayed from start to finish.”
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Coach Mike Munchak talked with Adams on Monday and said he understands the owner’s frustration.
“I would probably have said the same thing if I were him,” Munchak said. “This is his team. He expects us to play well, especially at home. That’s our job. That’s my job to make sure we’re out there playing our best and winning games at home hopefully every time we line up.
“We didn’t play well, and I’d be upset too if I were him.”
The Titans (3-6) didn’t just look bad in the loss to the Bears, they looked inept with five turnovers. Even Chris Johnson, who had one fumble touching the ball 150 times coming into the game, lost two himself. They struggled to tackle with safety Michael Griffin dragged about 20 yards by Matt Forte before finally bringing the running back down with a horse collar tackle.
They lined up incorrectly on back-to-back plays covering up the tight end, backing them up before getting a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown.
“The bottom line is it shouldn’t happen,” Munchak said of the formation penalties.
Tennessee once again is last in the NFL giving up an average 34.2 points per game and remain on pace to top the 533 points allowed by the 1981 Baltimore Colts. The Titans already have given up 308 points through nine games after allowing only 317 points all last season.
Adams can share some of the blame for the defense’s struggles.
The owner ordered his Titans to chase four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning in March, and that kept team officials busy for the first week of free agency. Sure, they signed veteran left guard Steve Hutchinson while they tried to woo Manning into picking Tennessee, but defensive ends Mario Williams and John Abraham signed elsewhere.
That left the Titans to sign Kamerion Wimbley, who had played linebacker in Oakland before they switched him to defensive end. Wimbley has 3.5 sacks so far on a defense that has just 14 overall.
The Titans started the season with their youngest opening day roster since 2006, a team that went 8-8 after losing the first five games that season.
The defense is where the youth movement of the last two drafts shows up the most with two of the three starting linebackers in their second season along with rookie Zach Brown. Tackle Jurrell Casey is another defender in his second season, while end Derrick Morgan and cornerback Alterraun Verner are in their third.
Munchak said he is not planning any staff changes right now.
“We have to win football games right now. I’m not spending my time deciding on making coaching changes, and no, I’m not thinking of doing that.”
The Titans visit Miami (4-4) on Sunday before a break with their bye. They may get Jake Locker back as their starting quarterback depending on what doctors say about his left, non-throwing shoulder. Locker has missed five straight games since dislocating his shoulder Sept. 30 for the second time in four games.
Munchak said the key is when Locker is cleared for contact, and the quarterback worked with the scout team last week. The coach said they should know more by Wednesday. In the meantime, Munchak said he isn’t the type to flip coolers or start yelling since that tactic never prompted him to play harder or better himself.
“My job is to focus them, direct them, teach them and try to get the best out of them, and that’s what I’m trying to do,” Munchak said.