Coach: Nothing he can say with Titans' skid now at 16 of 17
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) With the Titans mired in their worst skid since relocating to Tennessee, coach Ken Whisenhunt knows he's at a point where only wins - not words - matter most.
The Titans (1-6) have lost six straight and 16 of their last 17. They also have lost their last 12 games against AFC opponents after a 20-6 loss in Houston, the longest such skid by a team inside its conference in the NFL.
''Our win-loss total is not good so no matter what I say, it's not going to be good enough and you know all I can do is tell you we're going to work hard to swing it back the other way,'' Whisenhunt said Monday. ''We're in here working, we're trying, and we feel like we've done some things that have been good. But they're obviously not good enough.''
Whisenhunt now is 3-20 since being hired in January 2014 with a .130 winning percentage that is second-worst in franchise history, according to STATS. Only Bill Peterson was worse at 1-18 and .053 with the then-Houston Oilers before being fired after his fifth loss to open the 1973 season.
It could get worse too. The Titans visit New Orleans (4-4) before hosting Carolina, one of five teams at .500 or better still left on Tennessee's schedule.
Fans are angry both with Titans' ownership and management calling on social media for the team to be sold and general manager Ruston Webster and Whisenhunt to be fired. Whisenhunt said he speaks with controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk every week, not that he's sharing anything from those talks. He knows fans aren't happy.
''I certainly feel their pain,'' Whisenhunt said. ''I think the thing that people lose sight of is that we're in here working hard. I mean we want to win just as bad as everybody else. We haven't done as well as we would've liked or expected, but we're humans too. It does affect us. It's not a lot of fun, and we're working hard to do a better job.''
The Titans are coming off a 2-14 season that allowed them to draft Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota at No. 2 overall. Mariota is one of four rookies to start this season for Tennessee, and 37.7 percent of the offensive snaps through six games went to rookies and players in their first or second seasons.
Whisenhunt expects Mariota to practice Wednesday and the quarterback's likely return to the lineup after missing two games with a sprained left knee could bring a spark.
Protecting the quarterback better is a must. Tennessee ranks ahead of only Seattle in sacks allowed per pass play with 28 sacks allowed, and Zach Mettenberger was sacked seven times by Houston. Whisenhunt said they are looking at their options and might make a change at right tackle where rookie Jeremiah Poutasi has been benched twice the past three games.
Tennessee's offense has dried up over the past month. The Titans have scored fewer points in each of the last four games. Only Detroit (20) and Cleveland (17) have more turnovers than Tennessee (16).
Defensively, the Titans rank fifth in yards allowed, third against the pass and 14th in points allowed per game. Left tackle Taylor Lewan, who has started 13 games so far in his career, said he apologized to his teammates for his play after the loss in Houston. Lewan said the Titans aren't going to give up but have to get going on offense.
''We owe the defense a lot of points,'' Lewan said.
Notes: WR Kendall Wright said he had an MRI on his left knee Monday, and Whisenhunt said they had no timetable on his return. ... WR Harry Douglas (ribs) said he expects to practice this week. Whisenhunt said CB Perrish Cox (hamstring) should practice Wednesday. C Andy Gallik also is expected back. ... Whisenhunt said Dexter McCluster will handle kickoffs for now after Bishop Sankey fumbled one and muffed a second against Houston.
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