Reeling Titans, Chargers each desperate for a win
Both started this season with high expectations only to find themselves having lost two straight and four of their past five.
And they’re both desperate to stop their respective skids.
“Our record is what we are, and now we have to fight to get our way out of this hole,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said.
The biggest difference between the Chargers and Titans comes at quarterback.
The Chargers have Philip Rivers in his 16th season climbing the NFL’s career passing charts, while the Titans have made a change from Marcus Mariota to Ryan Tannehill trying to jump-start an offense that has scored one touchdown over the past 10 quarters. Coach Mike Vrabel said the Titans (2-4) felt this move was the right thing for now.
“We’re trying to get a little spark,” Vrabel said.
The Chargers (2-4) also have had their offensive struggles, starting slowly too often. That includes a 14-0 deficit before losing 24-17 to Pittsburgh in their most recent loss.
The Titans were shut out 16-0 losing in Denver last week. They hope being home four of the next five games will help despite losing their first two in Nashville. Left guard Rodger Saffold said the Titans know they have time with 10 games left to turn this season around.
“I want to say that we’re urgent but not frantic,” Saffold said.
Some things to know about the Chargers and Titans:
OUT OF SYNCH
The Chargers’ offense has lacked consistency since an overtime win against Indianapolis in the opener. A major reason has been turnovers. Los Angeles is tied for the league lead with Cleveland in red zone turnovers (four) while Rivers already has eight turnovers after committing 13 all of last season.
The Chargers also have failed to score in the first half in consecutive games for the first time since the first two weeks of 2007. Running back Melvin Gordon is still trying to get back up to speed after missing more than two months because of a contract dispute.
“It’s really just a handful of plays in each of these games that we haven’t been able to overcome,” Rivers said. “It’s not 60 minutes of bad football. It’s just enough bad football that we haven’t been able to overcome it. We have to eliminate that and then continue to do the good that we’re doing, and speaking offensively, as I’ve said, it seems simple, but score more points.”
A starter for seven seasons in Miami, Tannehill now has a chance to prove he can start for more than just this week. He played 30 snaps against Denver and was 13 of 16 for 144 yards with an interception. He’s 3-1 as a starter against the Chargers, and now his challenge is helping an offense that is averaging just 16.3 points a game.
“I’m not trying to prove anything other than that I can lead this team to wins,” Tannehill said.
The Chargers’ tackling has been poor the past two weeks. They have allowed long touchdowns the past two weeks after failing to wrap up the receiver in the open field. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has discussed continuing to stress where to tackle each player while Lynn wants fewer one-on-one situations in the open field with the Chargers swarming to the ball.
The Chargers are the NFL’s No. 10 scoring defense allowing 19.7 points a game, while the Titans (No. 5) are giving up just 15.3 points. Titans four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jurrell Casey says he loves playing Rivers, a native of Decatur, Alabama, because of how much trash the quarterback talks and wants to get Rivers fussing at his offensive line.
“Keep on hitting and talking mess back to him, he’s going to respond,” Casey said. “Most quarterbacks they go back to the huddle. They’re going to complain to the refs. He’s a guy who’s going to respond and hold his own ground.”
HELP IN OFFING
The Chargers have gotten Russell Okung back in practice this week after the left tackle dealt with blood clot issues. Defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, the Titans’ first-round pick at No. 19 overall, practiced for the first time Wednesday in his recovery from a torn ACL and could be activated from the non-football injury list in time to make his NFL debut Sunday.