Titans joke about own offensive woes
Posted: Friday, September 5, 2008 4:01 pm
By: By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — Explanations for the Tennessee Titans’ inability to score a touchdown with Vince Young came fast and furious all preseason. Nobody’s panicking. Not tapping too much of the playbook. The production’s there on the practice field.
Heading into their season opener against Jacksonville on Sunday, coach Jeff Fisher has refined his act so well that he handled a question about having access to all of the Titans’ playbook with a quick joke.
“Well, we’re going to try and score one more point than they do,” Fisher said. “And in the effort to do so we’re going to probably have to do some different things than we did in the preseason.”
Fans have worried about the Titans’ inability to score anything other than field goals with Young and the first-team offense during the preseason because scoring touchdowns was a big problem in 2007. Remember, All Pro kicker Rob Bironas led the NFL with 35 field goals and set a record with eight field goals in one game last season.
The Titans went 10-6 and clinched a wild-card berth despite averaging 18.8 points, which forced the defense to work even harder.
Fisher, and the Titans’ offense, think they are better after changing offensive coordinators with the hiring of Mike Heimerdinger, the signing of veteran tight end Alge Crumpler and right guard Jake Scott and the drafting of running back Chris Johnson.
And Fisher told Jacksonville reporters that he wasn’t concerned that Young didn’t score a TD in the preseason.
“We work at it. Our hope is that things will get back on track, but I thought he had a really good camp. He’s had a great offseason, he and Mike are working very well together and I’ve seen improvement in all aspects of his play,” Fisher said.
Fisher dismissed preseason statistics as misleading and cautioned against jumping to conclusions. The Titans did rank second in the preseason to only Seattle with 370.3 yards of offense and led the NFL averaging 5.81 yards per carry.
Measuring where the Titans are now compared to a year ago is harder for Fisher to gauge. The Titans opened up running for 282 yards in beating the Jaguars in 2007, the second-most yards in franchise history. But he said he does feel good about the offense.
“You have to give us a couple weeks into the season before we’ll be able to compare ourselves where we were this year to last year,” Fisher said.
Veteran center Kevin Mawae is more confident. He looks at an offensive line that replaced retired right guard Benji Olson with Scott and moved up Eugene Amano to left guard after Jacob Bell signed with St. Louis and sees the other changes as helping the unit.
Receivers Justin Gage and Justin McCareins must lead a young group.
“I think we’re capable of winning games. I think we’re capable of winning big. Again, it goes back to everybody doing their jobs,” Mawae said.
The biggest questions revolve around Young going into his third season. He threw only nine touchdown passes with 17 interceptions in 2007 and spent the offseason working with Heimerdinger.
Mawae said Young is better than when he came in as a rookie in 2006, but has heard the questions about whether the quarterback can lead them to a title.
“If you ask anybody on this team, we all believe that Vince can be, and that’s where you start. As long as your team believes in your quarterback, you have half the battle licked,” Mawae said.
Running back LenDale White said they will be better because many of the Titans are heading into a third season together, a group led by himself and Young. He sees Johnson as an intelligent player whose speed will open up room for himself and Young. He believes the scoring will come with the Titans working together.
“We’ve still got to score points. You’ve got to put points on the board no matter how good you think you are. … If you score 20, 21 good points on offense, it usually helps you win football games,” he said.
In other Titans’ news, defensive tackle Jason Jones did not practice Thursday, a day after injuring his left elbow in practice.
The second-round pick from Eastern Michigan, was sporting a brace on Thursday, but Titans coach Jeff Fisher said he hopes Jones will be able to practice today in preparation for Sunday’s season opener against Jacksonville.
Kicker Rob Bironas was held out of practice as well, and punter Craig Hentrich handled placekicks.
Bironas has missed the entire preseason with a strained groin on his kicking leg. He said on Thursday that Fisher gave him a day off to rest as he begins the recovery process and readies himself for the season opener.
Bironas said he is likely to practice today and expects to kick on Sunday, although he doesn’t want to go to fast.
He made 35 of 39 field goals a year ago.