JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Tennessee Titans have an identity crisis on their hands after an 0-4 start, thanks to Sunday’s 37-17 pounding by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
At least that’s what linebacker Keith Bulluck said in trying to find answers to a seemingly inexplicable freefall from first to worst this year.
“Last year was one of those things. I remember last year that we had to establish an identity,” Bulluck said of the Titans being 13-3 a year ago. “I just remember identity, and now four weeks into the season, we don’t have an identity. If everyone’s OK with this 0-4 stuff, this losing stuff, then yes, we have an identity.
“But as far as I’m concerned we don’t have an identity. We’re unidentifiable. The first game we played good football minus a couple of plays against Pittsburgh. We come back against Houston, and it’s a shootout. I can’t put my hand on it.”
Bulluck said before the game, he felt the Titans were somehow flat as they took the field. It showed, as the Jaguars carved up Tennessee for 442 yards of total offense, with 259 of that in the first half.
“It’s a mentality. I still believe it’s a mentality. You go out to play the game flat, nine times out of 10, that’s the result of the game,” Bulluck said. “Before the game, we weren’t as chippy as we usually are. We kind of seemed a little lackadaisical. We’ve been like that before and won games. But that’s in the past.”
Running back LenDale White, who was used sparingly Sunday with just two carries for two yards, said it is time for the Titans to simply let their actions speak, not their words as they try to right the wrongs of 2009.
“There’s enough talking around here. We can’t keep talking. Everybody can’t keep saying, ‘I’m going to do this, or what am I going to do.’ You’ve got to walk. There ain’t no talking all the time. We’ve got to stop the talking. If you ain’t ready to walk, after you talk, then don’t talk at all,’” White said.
No change at QB
Despite offensive struggles that played a key role in a 24-point halftime deficit, Titans coach Jeff Fisher said he never considered replacing starting quarterback Kerry Collins with backup Vince Young in Sunday’s mashing by the Jags.
“Kerry’s our starter. Kerry gives us the best chance to win,” Fisher said. “There was a little bit of life left. We got some points, and if we would’ve gotten the onside kick, it might have quieted down, and he might have put his starters back in. That was my decision today, to stay with him and try to find a way to win.”
Young has seen action in only one regular season game – last year’s meaningless regular-season finale in Indianapolis last year – since being injured and demoted after last year’s season opener.
In the Titans’ 0-5 beginning in 2006, owner Bud Adams called on Fisher to switch to Young after the Titans’ third loss that year.
One reporter from Jacksonville asked defensive end Jevon Kearse if it was time for Young to see action to perhaps give the team a spark. Kearse didn’t comply with his answer.
“I’m not even going to get into that,” defensive end Jevon Kearse said.
Young was the only available backup quarterback Sunday, as the Titans released Patrick Ramsey on Saturday to make room for Cary Williams as a backup cornerback for Sunday’s game.
Green on the corners
The Titans started rookie Jason McCourty at one cornerback spot with Cortland Finnegan held out with a hamstring injury Sunday, and before the day was over, had two rookies starting at cornerback.
Nick Harper was knocked out with a rib injury in the second half, and Ryan Mouton, who was already playing for Vincent Fuller in the nickel package, played the rest of the way in Harper’s spot.
“That’s just part of the learning experience, being able to get out there,” said McCourty, a sixth-round pick from Rutgers. “I’ve just got to continue to learn from it.”
The task doesn’t get any easier for McCourty and Mouton, who next week could be in the lineup when Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts come to town.
“If Nick’s out and Cort can’t come back next week, we’ll fight and claw with two rookie corners. We’ve been there before. We’re going to play the people that we’ve got on this roster,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said.
Receiver Nate Washington, who caught a touchdown pass for the third straight game, left the game in the second half after taking a hard hit from cornerback Derek Cox and defensive end Derrick Harvey.
Mark Jones filled in and had one reception for nine yards.
Special teams issues
At least the Titans didn’t have any turnovers on special teams with Jones re-signed to handle the return chores. But the return game struggled to gain yardage as Jones averaged just 21 yards per kickoff return and eight yards on one punt return.
The coverage units were woeful, giving up a 34-yard punt return to Mike Thomas and a 42-yard kickoff return to Thomas as well. That kickoff return also included a 15-yard horse collar penalty by Donnie Nickey on the tackle.
In a losing effort, rookie Kenny Britt had the first 100-yard receiving game of his NFL career. Britt caught seven passes for 105 yards, including a long reception of 42 yards.
Also, rookie tight end Jared Cook had his first two NFL catches on Sunday.