Titans not ‘flat’ out of it, yet
Posted: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 5:06 pm
By: By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — The only fight Tennessee showed against the Texans came when Cortland Finnegan squared off with Andre Johnson.
The Titans have lost four straight after being shut out 20-0 in Houston, raising bad memories of last season’s 0-6 start that ended with a 59-0 loss in New England. The offense now ranks among the NFL’s worst, and even Chris Johnson had the least productive game of his career.
Yet the Titans (5-6) are just a game back of Indianapolis and Jacksonville in the AFC South, and the Jaguars (6-5) visit Sunday followed by the Colts a week later.
“People have to step up, we have to do more,” coach Jeff Fisher said Monday. “I’m not concerned about anybody not buying into what we’re doing or doing the right things or believing that we still have a chance,” coach Jeff Fisher said Monday.
First, the Titans need to snap out of the doldrums they’ve been in since their last win Oct. 24 against Philadelphia.
Tennessee’s offense has ground nearly to a halt after struggling in spurts most of this season. The Titans now have not scored an offensive touchdown in nine quarters and counting. They rank last in the NFL in time of possession at 26 minutes, 1 second. That leaves the defense on the field too long, and injuries are starting to take a toll.
“We have quarterbacks revolving through the door and injuries, and we’re just having difficulties converting third downs and getting the run game going,” Fisher said.
The Titans were held to a season-worst 162 yards offense but managed only 54 in the first half of rookie Rusty Smith’s first NFL start as their third different quarterback in as many games. Chris Johnson ran just seven times for a career-low five yards and wasn’t very happy at not being used more.
“When we go three-and-out, what can you do?” Johnson said.
Smith was intercepted three times, but the opening drive summed up the Titans’ day. Smith was sacked, Johnson ran for five yards, then left tackle Michael Roos flinched for a false start and then Justin Gage dropped a pass from Smith that would have gotten a first down.
Fisher said he counted four drops, and none of the Titans sound ready to blame the performance on a tumultuous week that started with Vince Young’s blowup after tearing a tendon in his right thumb and ended with offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger calling the game before starting chemotherapy treatment for cancer.
Heimerdinger’s treatment now has been postponed until Wednesday, and Fisher said the coordinator will be helping put together the game plan. Heimerdinger is expected to be away from the team most of Thursday and Friday, but Fisher said he could coach Sunday against the Jaguars depending on how he feels.
The Titans also might be closer to getting Kerry Collins back from his strained left calf. The veteran backed up Smith in Houston, and Fisher said Collins now is day to day just two weeks after saying the quarterback could miss several weeks. If healthy enough, Collins would start ahead of Smith.
“If he can go, we’ll let you know,” Fisher said.
The Titans also played much of Sunday’s loss in Houston with just six defensive linemen. Tackle Jason Jones and end Dave Ball were inactive with injuries, and tackle Tony Brown aggravated his right knee on the first series and sat out the rest of the game. Tackle Sen’Derrick Marks hurt his right ankle in the third quarter.
End Jason Babin, tied for sixth in the NFL with a career-high nine sacks, said the Titans need to do better all around and win games.
“We have to score touchdowns and stop them from scoring,” Babin said after the game. “There’s no magic potion or magic solution. We just have to do better all around.”
Roos said the Titans need each player to look at himself and figure out what he can do better. Panic time, it’s not.
“Mathematically we aren’t even needing help, we’re still in it,” Roos said.
He’s right. The Titans play divisional opponents in their final five games. Right now, Fisher isn’t looking past Sunday.
“We’ve got to win the next one first, and that’s the most important thing. If there is ever an opportunity to take advantage of a division, this is the year. It is disappointing where we are right now, but we’re still in it and we just have to find a way to win the first game,” Fisher said.