|NASHVILLE (AP) — The NFL might have done a favor for the Tennessee Titans with the scheduling of their bye week.
A week ago, the Titans were coming off a 31-14 victory in New Orleans, prompting a little history lesson from coach Jeff Fisher on how poorly his teams have played in games following prime-time appearances in the regular season.
And they have been bad — 1-4 going back to 2003, which was this franchise’s last playoff team.
But the Titans (2-1) have had some time off thanks to an early bye week. They return from a four-day break today, and Fisher has one simple message, or cliche, for them as they prepare to host Atlanta (1-3) on Sunday.
Take it one game at a time.
“It’s pretty simple,” Fisher said Monday. “Just do everything you possibly can to win the next game. That’s all we do. Then if you win it, then our record is better than it was the last few years.”
The Titans beat Detroit to wrap up the 2004 season after losing to Denver in a Christmas night game.
That’s the only time they’ve been able to follow through with a win coming off a prime-time game, including two losses in 2003 when Tennessee went 12-4 and reached the AFC championship.
Their record after bye weeks hasn’t been much better. They beat Houston 28-22 last year for their second victory of 2006 with just their first victory following a bye since 2003.
To avoid a change in momentum for a team that has won eight of its last 10 going back to last season, Fisher took his team out onto the field for light workouts twice last week before letting them take off. But he’s going back on the field Tuesday for what he calls a bonus day of work.
“We’ll emphasize timing, tempo, those kinds of things, and then we’ll start on Atlanta,” Fisher said. “We have a very talented upcoming opponent that played very well yesterday. That will certainly get attention. I have no concern. We’ll be healthy, so that’s good.”
The Titans couldn’t be much healthier right now. The biggest question has been the state of punter Craig Hentrich’s back. He couldn’t play at New Orleans and was replaced by late signee Josh Miller.
But even Hentrich appears to be healing up after a battery of tests to check his back.
Healthy enough for the Titans to release Miller?
“We’ll keep Josh until we make a decision that we think Craig can play,” Fisher said.
Sunday will be the Titans’ lone home game in a five-week stretch against the NFC South, a division Fisher is 12-1 against. The Falcons are coming off their first victory, and Fisher has his own team’s rebound from an 0-5 start to an 8-8 finish as an example of how not to judge a team based on record.
“Everybody counted us out completely, and we found a way to stay alive. We showed improvement. So I think you have to be careful,” he said.