NASHVILLE – Titans coach Mike Vrabel held a press conference on Monday at Saint Thomas Sports Park, one day after the team’s 35-32 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Titans have a bye this weekend before returning to action on November 24 against the Jaguars at Nissan Stadium.
Here’s a look at some of the hot topics:
Praise for Tannehill
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed 13-of-19 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns, with a 133.9 rating, in Sunday’s win. He also ran for 37 yards and scored on a two-point conversion.
Tannehill is now 3-1 as a starter since replacing Marcus Mariota prior to the team’s game against the Chargers.
“I think that now where he’s at, starting for us, it’s been everything that we’d hoped for having him come in – to be ready to go, to assume that role,” Vrabel said of Tannehill.
Vrabel once again applauded Tannehill for his poise in guiding the team down the field in the hectic final moments. Tannehill connected with receiver Adam Humphries for a 23-yard touchdown pass with just 23 seconds left, capping a four-play, 61-yard drive that took just 58 seconds.
Vrabel complimented Tannehill for how he's handled his business in Tennessee.
“I think that that’s just what we thought as coaches, Jon (Robinson) and I, and everybody else that this was going to be a guy that if things happened, or if something happened that he could win us football games,” Vrabel said. “We’ve talked about that in the past. The opportunity presented itself to Ryan (Tannehill). Ryan probably figures he’s only got so many more chances at it. We didn’t sit down and have this conversation, but you only get so many opportunities to go out there. It’s good to see him take advantage of what now is an opportunity for him.”
Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan committed three penalties on Sunday, and over the past 24 hours he’s owned up to his mistakes and publicly apologized on two separate occasions.
Despite playing in just six games this season, Lewan has a team-high nine penalties that have resulted in more lost yards (69) than by any other player on the Titans.
So what does Vrabel think of Lewan’s penalties?
In a long answer, Vrabel made it clear there’s a way to finish plays while being physical without committing penalties.
“We’re not going to hide behind finishing,” Vrabel said. “I stand in here without this podium and I tell the team every week, ‘If we’re going to play full-tilt to the tackle, and we’re going to finish longer than the guy with the ball, we can’t use it as an excuse,’ whether it’s pushing a guy late, or whether it’s the quarterback. I can go back and vividly remember Harold (Landry III) in Atlanta rushing like heck to try to get to the quarterback, he throws it, Harold hits him, and the officials saw that as unnecessary. He was going as hard as he can, so we showed him, coached him up, explained, ‘Yep, it’s a fine line to go and play full-tilt to the tackle and understand when you have to pull off.’ Jurrell (Casey) plays as hard as anybody on our football team, and he’s going after (Josh) Allen, he slides, and unfortunately, Jurrell catches him with his knee in his back, and it’s a penalty. It’s forceable contact to the quarterback that’s giving himself up. I explained to him that we can’t use that as an excuse by playing and just saying, ‘Well, I’m just playing hard.’ That would be no different than Taylor to say that I’m trying to finish. That’s not what we coach, that’s not what we teach, and we can’t say that I was just trying to finish. He knows that, and I know that. It applies to everybody at every position. If it’s offensive line, it would be finishing their guy, then the whistle, then hitting them late, or doing something like that. I explain with the rushers going as hard as they can, and the quarterback doesn’t have the ball, or gives himself up. So, there’s a lot of instances where players are confronted with that – playing with great effort, and then having to have the composure to not do anything after that, and just go back to the next play.”
Happy for Joshua Kalu
Titans defensive back Joshua Kalu sprinted off the edge from the left side to get his left hand on a 52-yard field goal try by Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker on the final play of the game.
The play sparked a wild celebration, and Vrabel was among those who tracked Kalu down in the middle of the field.
“Just a fantastic play,” Vrabel said. “Just always enjoyed guys that take pride in making a play to help their team win. Josh is primarily special teams for us, and he got some action on the punt team. We felt like his performance in Carolina warranted that we find a spot for him. We found a spot for him as the wing on punt team. He helped us get a little faster on the punt team.”
Praise for Rookie LB David Long
Titans rookie David Long played well on Sunday.
Despite playing just 28 snaps, Long was credited with eight tackles and he also forced a fumble.
“He’s an instinctive player,” Vrabel said of Long. “There’s a lot of stuff that we’ve got to continue to coach on him and improve, but he has shown since he’s gotten here that he is an instinctive player, that he makes tackles, that he gets around the football. He got an opportunity to play and showed up. He got the ball out. The thing that I appreciate about David, you can get on him and coach him hard, and he knows when he’s out on the field that he’s going to go play. He’s just a young, instinctive player that has been improving through the course of the season on the show team.”
Defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, tight end Delanie Walker, receiver Corey Davis and linebacker Jayon Brown were among the team’s inactives on Sunday.
The bye week will give them more time to heal, and they could potentially return to action against the Jaguars. Walker, for one, has said he expects to return for the Jacksonville game.
“I’m worried about today, so if you’re asking me if they’ll be back today, they won’t be back today,” Vrabel said. “I would imagine that they can probably look to get back, hopefully, after the bye and do some things, and then we’ll evaluate where they are. I know each and every one of them is working their tail off to get back out there to help the team, and they’ll be working hard this week to recover.”
Bye Week Plan
The Titans had a team meeting on Monday.
Players will get some time away this week before returning in full force next week to begin preparations for the Jaguars.
Coaches, meanwhile, will spend part of the week self-scouting.
“We’re going to do a lot of things,” Vrabel said. “The whole goal is to try to improve mentally, get as physically healthy as we can and try to get our players to understand each and every play, the details of it versus whatever they’re running offensively, defensively or on special teams. That will be the key to try to improve.”
The Tennessee Titans take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 10 of the 2019 season at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donald Page)