The Titans’ loss on Sunday to the Indianapolis Colts was not pretty. They had the game in their grasp, but the offense committed multiple mental errors in the fourth quarter and let a potential win slip away.
With a quick turnaround ahead of them—they’ll face the Jaguars on Thursday night, just four days following their loss to Indianapolis—the Titans offense knows that there are problems and that it is imperative for them to get things turned around quickly.
That’s why a vast majority of the offense is taking a hard look at themselves in the mirror this week. They’re aiming to identify what’s gone wrong so far, and they’ll look to get things fixed on Thursday.
“Everyone in here is their worst critic,” said TE Delanie Walker. “They take ownership by critiquing themselves and also trying to be a leader with others in that, if you see someone slacking, you speak up.
“It’s a quick turnaround, and our idea is to get back on track. We’ve got to put everything in a small window.”
Through their first two games of the season, the Titans offense is a putrid 3-20 on third downs. That specific deficiency is perhaps the biggest stain on the Titans’ season to this point.
“There are several pieces of the puzzle that we want to get better, and obviously that’s third down,” said QB Marcus Mariota, who took some unnecessary sacks late in the Titans’ Week 2 loss. “Those are things that we’ve communicated the last couple of days, and we’ve got to do a better job of just executing.”
One of the contributors to the Titans’ downfall on Sunday was WR Tajaé Sharpe, who caught a pass on third down one yard short of the line to gain late in the fourth quarter. Instead of falling to pick up a first down, Sharpe had a mental gaffe and ran backward.
He was tackled short of the sticks, and the Titans were forced to punt.
Sharpe, who attributed the Titans’ offensive struggles to an overall lack of execution, knows that self-criticism is a key heading into Thursday’s game.
“It’s what we build ourselves on,” Sharpe said. “Not pointing fingers, holding yourself accountable as well as holding everyone else accountable. When you feel like you did something to jeopardize the team or that you didn’t do something to the best of your abilities, the guys in this locker room are going to take ownership of that, and they’ll do everything to correct that.”
For improvement to actually happen, the Titans will need more than just players to take ownership of what’s gone wrong. Coaches need to be held accountable as well.
“If you want to be any good in this business, you’ve got to be very critical of yourself, and not in a way that makes you a martyr or something like that,” said offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, who admitted that he “needs to call better plays” moving forward. “We’ve got to keep evolving as an offense, we’ve got to improve.”
The Titans (1-1) will get their first chance at improvement on Thursday night at 7:20 PM CT when they face the Jaguars (0-2) on Thursday Night Football.
Cover image: Mike Dinovo/USA Today