2-9 Titans off to worst start since leaving Texas

BY foxsports • November 24, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Rookie left tackle Taylor Lewan is backed up against a locker wearing a walking boot on his sprained left ankle when asked about the Titans closing in on the franchise's worst record since moving to Tennessee.

''That's really good to kick me when I'm down like that, that's good,'' Lewan said Monday.

Lewan isn't alone, the Titans are down as a franchise.

Tennessee (2-9) is mired in a five-game skid, losing nine of 10 overall. Now the injuries are starting to pile up along with the losses for a franchise off to its worst start since moving to Tennessee in 1997.

First-year Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt was hired to turn things around, and they haven't won since Sammie Hill's fingertips swatted away a field goal Oct. 12 against the Jaguars - who at 1-10 have a worse record than Tennessee.

''Sick feeling in my stomach all the time,'' Whisenhunt said. ''I mean nothing changes that except when you win, so it's not a lot of fun.''

And there hasn't been much fun around the Titans facilities.

Here's how ugly it's been:

- This is the worst start since this team moved to Tennessee in 1997 and the worst since a 1-9 start in 1994 cost Jack Pardee his job with the then-Houston Oilers. That team wound up 2-14, and the worst record in Tennessee was 4-12 in 2005. Six of the Titans' losses this season have been by at least 14 points.

- Whisenhunt hasn't impressed Tennessee fans - his personal skid is even worse than the Titans. Whisenhunt now is 3-20 as a head coach dating back to his final 12 games in Arizona in 2012. Titans president Tommy Smith has made it clear he's sticking with both Whisenhunt and general manager Ruston Webster.

- The Titans are on their third quarterback. Whisenhunt played four quarterbacks his final season in Arizona. He's gambling on a rookie drafted in the sixth round with Zach Mettenberger, who is 0-4. The rookie threw for 345 yards in Sunday's 43-24 loss to Philadelphia, the most yards passing by a rookie this season and the most by a rookie for this franchise.

- Tennessee has lost five players to season-ending injuries, including four starters - left tackle Michael Roos, tight end Craig Stevens, safety Bernard Pollard and linebacker Zach Brown. They've had plenty of company in the training room with four other starters missing at least two games to injuries.

While Lewan is in a walking boot, at least he didn't break his ankle. Center Brian Schwenke had an MRI exam on his left knee, and Whisenhunt didn't have an update on their status Monday.

Running back Bishop Sankey suffered a stinger that caused him to fumble, and running back Dexter McCluster is recovering from a concussion. Safety Michael Griffin dislocated his left shoulder but returned and finished.

And though the results don't reflect a changing of losing attitudes, Whisenhunt's believes Griffin's actions do.

''I think that speaks a lot to buying into what we're trying to get done,'' Whisenhunt said. ''I have a lot of respect for that.''

Tennessee also appears to coming up on a break in the schedule with a lineup of upcoming games against teams below .500.

The Titans play the Texans (5-6) Sunday, but Houston handed Mettenberger a 30-16 loss in his first NFL start a month ago. Then Tennessee heads into December against the Jets, Giants and Jaguars - a combined 6-26.

With five games left, tight end Delanie Walker said they have to stick together and keep fighting to show what they can do next year. Team officials in personnel and the coaches will be watching, trying to figure out what they need to be better in 2015.

''It's the NFL,'' Walker said. ''Teams every year have their ups and downs, and right now we're having a down.''



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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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