NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans got an extra day of much-needed practice Monday after giving themselves plenty to fix after a terrible performance under the lights in Jacksonville.
The Titans struggled so much last week in a 20-7 loss to Jacksonville that fundamentals was the word of the day.
The solution? They make it sound very simple.
“Make plays,” three-time Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker said. “You make the play. Yeah, you make the play that comes to you. Protect the quarterback, and we get the ball in the end zone … That’s a good start.”
Coach Mike Vrabel told the Titans the story of how his fifth-grade teacher made students who got in trouble write 3,000 times “How to take responsibility for my own actions.” Vrabel says he figured out later in life that was called accountability.
“It’s not just enough to say, ‘You know what? I have to be better,’ but it’s like, ‘I have to better, and this is how I’m going to fix it,’” Vrabel said. “The fundamentals … is something that I’ve always felt as a player was critical. I think some of the penalties that we did have could be a result of just some fundamentals.”
A topic at meetings Monday morning was being accountable. Losers of two straight, the Titans (1-2) can take responsibility for a lot of issues:
— Allowing nine sacks to Jacksonville and a league-worst 17 through three games.
— A season-worst nine penalties for 101 yards, five of those holding calls.
— Marcus Mariota was just 6 of 16 passing in the first half, though he finished with 304 yards.
— Adoree’ Jackson muffed the first punt, losing a turnover turned into a touchdown on the next play.
“Everything’s fixable,” Walker said. “I think it’s early in the season. We still got a lot of football left. We need to fix it. That’s pretty much it.”
The Titans may do more than just practice on better technique. The Titans will be without three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan on Sunday when they visit Atlanta (1-2) as he sits out the final game of his suspension for using performance-enhancers . Dennis Kelly, more used to playing on the right side, has played left tackle through the first three games.
Rookie Nate Davis, their third-round pick out of Charlotte, might get a chance at right guard. He has been inactive for the first three games trying to catch up after missing more than two weeks of training camp with an undisclosed injury. Vrabel said they’re trying to get Davis ready to go as soon as possible.
“I’m hopeful that’s this week,” Vrabel said.
But Walker warned against seeing Lewan’s return on Sept. 30 as being the cure-all for the Titans’ woes.
“It takes all 11 that’s out there,” Walker said. “So if all 11 are doing their job, then that’s what’s going to fix it.”
Right tackle Jack Conklin agrees that everything is fixable. So did left guard Rodger Saffold, the key free agent signee in March to improve the offensive line. Saffold said the NFL season is still early, and he remembers starting 3-1 one season only to finish 4-12. The linemen can communicate better and pick up protections quicker with the rest of the Titans on offense executing better as well.
“Coaches have taken responsibility, we have taken responsibility,” Saffold said. “But I think we’ll get it fixed.”