Thursday game gives Titans no time to fix mistakes

Chris Johnson succinctly sums up the Tennessee Titans’ problems:

Everybody is taking turns making mistakes.

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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