NASHVILLE – Titans coach Mike Vrabel held a press conference on Monday at Saint Thomas Sports Park, one day after the team’s 19-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
The Titans will face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday.
Here’s a look at some of the hot topics:
Third Down Issues
The Titans are 3-of-20 on third down during the first two games of the season.
“When 13 of the 20 are third-and-10 plus,” Vrabel said, “that’s tough sledding.”
The Titans were just 1-of-10 on third down vs. the Colts.
“Being efficient on 1st and 2nd (downs) and being more consistent on 1st and 2nd downs (would help) bring up the opportunities that when they arise aren’t 3rd and 11 and they’re 3rd and five,” Vrabel said. “When we can not be in third and long and we can be in third and manageable and pick up those third downs, then we can run it with whoever and we can throw it to whoever as opposed to running out of opportunities by not converting.”
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was sacked four times on Sunday, and he’s now been sacked eight times in two games this season.
After the contest, Mariota blamed himself for not getting rid of the ball sooner on some of the sacks.
Vrabel was asked about Mariota’s pocket presence on Monday.
“I think at times there were some examples where (his pocket presence) was good, it was what we were looking for,” Vrabel said. “There were times when the protection wasn’t what we were looking for, and there were times when there was a pocket and we probably got out of there too soon.”
Running back Derrick Henry carried the ball 15 times for 81 yards against the Colts.
Running back Dion Lewis had 3 carries for nine yards.
The players had identical snap counts in the contest – 30 plays each.
Why not more carries for Henry?
“I’m going to go back and I don’t want to sound repetitive,” Vrabel said. “But if we can do better on third down, then it’s 20 carries or it’s 21 carries and it’s more catches. … If we can just improve the sustainability of these drives, then we can get the ball to a lot of guys who maybe yesterday we weren’t able to consistently.”
Vrabel said Henry had received the majority of the team’s snaps on 1st and 2nd down.
The Titans allowed 167 rushing yards on Sunday, including a 55-yard run by Colts running back Jordan Wilkins that set up the winning score in the closing minutes.
The team is currently ranked 26th vs. the run, allowing 134.5 yards per game.
“What I told the team was: 31 carries for 115 yards isn’t a bad day in the National Football League,” Vrabel said. “But (34) carries for (167) yards is a bad day. So I would say it is similar to last year, where we are, is that it can be really good and then you give up a couple of long ones or one real long one and that hurts you.”
The Titans signed receiver Adam Humphries in free agency, and based on his stellar training camp, he was expected to make an immediate impact this fall.
Yet so far, Humphries has just three catches for four yards.
Vrabel said the team’s third-and-long issues have impact how much the team has been able to use Humphries.
“Adam’s strength is working underneath,” Vrabel said. ”And Adam is continuing to work and get open. When you have those longer downs and distances you have to push the ball further down the field. We would like it to be third and medium to where now when he does work underneath and get open in zone or beat somebody in man (coverage), he is able to catch it and get a first down at that point instead of needing third and 11.”
Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson was the team’s punt returner on Sunday, a week after the team used Humphries in Cleveland.
Jackson returned two punts for 26 yards, while Humphries fair caught all four of his attempts in Cleveland.
Vrabel said the team planned to continue alternating the two.
“I think that’s a week to week thing,” Vrabel said. “(Special teams coach Craig Aukerman) and I thought we could get the edge on a couple of those and were going to try and take advantage of Adoree’s speed. We didn’t on the one, and then we did on the other.”
Next Up: Jaguars
The Titans enter Thursday’s game against the Jaguars with a 1-1 mark.
Jacksonville is 0-2, coming off a 13-12 loss to the Texans.
“Our approach is going to try and do everything we can to get (the guys) physically and mentally ready,” Vrabel said. “We played an emotional, physical, hot game and the Jaguars played an emotional, physical game on the road. So we have to start our preparation now to become mentally and physically ready to play Thursday.”
The Titans have a walk-through scheduled for later on Monday. The team is scheduled to practice on Tuesday and will have another walk-through on Wednesday before flying to Florida.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Indianapolis Colts in their 2019 home opener at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donald Page)