If the Tennessee Titans are going to make a push into being an upper echelon NFL team, then the offense is going to have to figure out a way to find the end zone on a more consistent basis.
The defense, despite a couple of breakdowns that led to big-play touchdowns for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is playing at a playoff-type level through five games.
Tennessee ranks second overall against the run entering Monday night’s game and ninth overall in yards allowed, both strong enough to keep the team competitive.
However, the Titans offense is a different matter altogether. Tennessee ranks 22nd overall offensively, despite being second in rushing. That number is brought down by the Titans’ No. 30 ranking in passing yards per game.
Translated into points, the Titans’ offense has been even more needy, producing just one touchdown in each of the past two games. Only once this season — the Monday night game in New Orleans — has Tennessee’s offense put up more than two touchdowns in a game.
Contrast that with the scoring bonanzas going on elsewhere in the league and it shows the razor-thin margin for error the Titans defense is working with. Through the first six weeks of the season, teams have scored 35 or more points in a game 21 times already. The Titans have not scored at least 35 points in a game since Dec. 19, 2004.
Tight end Bo Scaife said the Titans offense needs to do more.
“We’ve got so many playmakers on offense. I think guys take it personally — I know I do,” Scaife said. “The wideouts and running backs feel the same way. We all get paid a lot of money, and we need to earn it.”
Quarterback Vince Young, now nursing a strained quadriceps muscle, said after Sunday’s game that there is nothing wrong with the Titans offense that better execution won’t take care of.
“I know y’all want the scores to look like college, but it ain’t gonna be like that,” Young said. “Why should I be concerned? I really feel like we have a good team. We moved the ball pretty good. [From] the things you saw out there, we moved the ball well. We just hurt ourselves sometimes, and we have to eliminate those mistakes.”
Titans coach Jeff Fisher indicated Monday that the Titans will continue to try and establish the run, even though teams are now stacking the line with extra run-stuffers, daring the Titans to throw more passes downfield.
“We’re going to continue to run the football and stop the run on defense, convert third downs on offense and get off the field on defense. We just have to protect the ball better,” Fisher said of the Titans having turned the ball over eight times the past two weeks.
Certainly a few more big plays couldn’t hurt, though.
“Big plays are good. We have them on our call sheet. We try to get them sometimes, but it just doesn’t work out,” Fisher said.
Linebacker Keith Bulluck said it will take more effort and better execution all the way around for the Titans to get better.
“It definitely has to get better. It can’t be one of those things where the defense is expected to pull out miracles, nor can it be one of those things where the offense is expected to pull out miracles,” linebacker Keith Bulluck said. “We’ve got to play as a team, and we’re kind of sputtering right now in second gear, trying to shift into third and fourth and get it going. 4-1 is better than 3-2, but what are you going to do?”