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Offense Seeks Better Execution

Posted Dec 6, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Dowell Loggains’ second week as Titans offensive coordinator is less about addition and more about subtraction.

Loggains, who replaced Chris Palmer last week and called his first full game against Houston on Sunday, said Tennessee (4-8) must execute better, especially than it did in the first half, this week at Indianapolis (8-4).  

The Titans fell behind the Texans 21-3 at halftime and ended the day with six sacks of Jake Locker, six turnovers and eight dropped passes by receivers and tight ends.

“We’ve just got to keep fighting through that, keep working and make sure we don’t turn the ball over,” Loggains said. “The biggest three things we have to eliminate in my mind are sacks, turnovers and drops. Those things can’t happen and you (be in position to) beat good football teams.”

Titans coach Mike Munchak said the sacks are partly attributed to injuries on the offensive line, partly to Locker trying to make a play and holding onto the ball too long and partly from falling behind early and having to call more passes than it originally had in the game plan.

Loggains said film study showed Locker was trying to put the ball in the correct spot on all three interceptions, but suffered from two batted balls at the line of scrimmage and a deflection. He said the film also showed Locker making other good decisions with the football that would have resulted in completions if not for the Texans swatting the passes at the line.

“Those guys are the best in the league at batting down balls,” Loggains said. “They do a heck of a job. Is it frustrating? Yeah, it’s part of the game you can’t control, but when I’m grading Jake, it’s three passes that are intercepted that should have never happened.”

Locker said it’s tougher to go into the film room after a loss than a win but there are important teaching moments that result from either scenario.

“If it doesn’t get tipped and gets through, we’ve got guys wide open to catch first down passes for us,” Locker said. “From that standpoint, it’s kind of encouraging, almost, ‘Hey, look, what we’re doing is working, we’re doing the right things, we’re going to the right spots.’ We’ve just got to find ways to negotiate that and not allow that to affect the play.”

Locker finished 21-for-45 (47 percent) for 309 yards that included a 34-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Britt and a 49-yard completion to Nate Washington in the second half, but that drive stalled at the Houston seven-yard line after two incompletions and a fumble. Locker took a big hit during the pass to Washington and bit his tongue. He spat blood on the sidelines but didn’t miss a snap as he kept trying to rally the Titans.

“We moved the ball really well in the second half,” Locker said. “I thought we looked like a really good offense and we sputtered on two drives that could have tied the game for us. That’s where you can make the difference and set yourself apart, and I think to get over the hump, that’s what we need to do: find ways to win those games.”  

Tennessee suffered season-ending injuries to David Stewart (broken leg) and Steve Hutchinson (knee) against Houston, as well as a knee injury to Michael Roos, but Munchak said he thinks Roos will be able to play at Indianapolis.

The Titans are likely to replace Stewart with Mike Otto and slide Fernando Velasco from center to guard and play Kevin Matthews at center. Matthews replaced Hutchinson on Sunday, and he and Otto played significant minutes against the Colts on Oct. 28.

Prior to last Sunday, Locker had only taken five sacks in six starts this season and only 10 in 11 career games. He said the increase didn’t shake his confidence in his line.

“We’ve got guys that understand what they’re doing, know what they’re doing,” Locker said. “I have confidence in them, they have confidence in what they can do. Obviously you’re going to miss the guys that are out, but I feel very confident in the guys that we have taking their place.”

This will be Locker’s first start against the Colts but not his first game action in Indianapolis. He relieved Matt Hasselbeck because of injury last season and went 11-for-16 for 108 yards and a touchdown in the second half for a passer rating of 108.3.

Munchak said Locker will need to “settle for completions” instead of trying to let the big play develop and the Titans must be more balanced offensively this week to reduce the impact of Colts pass rushers.

“If we manage first and second down with running the ball well and doing some things underneath, then the game is totally different, and that’s what we have to do,” Munchak said. “We can’t get into a game where we feel we have to throw as much as we did last week.”

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