There were glimpses here and flashes there, but the Tennessee Titans offense never really got into high gear in the season opening loss at Pittsburgh.
Sure, the Titans had a 57-yard completion to rookie Kenny Britt that Justin Gage followed with a 14-yard touchdown catch. There were other highlights as well, but overall, the Titans overall were somewhat sluggish in the season opener.
But it is those sporadic plays here and there that have the Titans believing they can be much improved over the offense that finished 21st overall a year ago.
“I think we’re one or two plays away. We had some drives where we started off very solid, and then we’d have a penalty that would set us back or a turnover,” Gage said of the loss in Pittsburgh last Thursday. “In this league, you can’t do that. It was just one or two mistakes here and there that was affecting us throughout the game. Once we get those out of the way, I think we’ll be on to moving the ball up and down the field and having success.”
Coach Jeff Fisher said he hopes the ability to capitalize on big plays comes sooner rather than later.
“I felt like we were in position to finish drives and we didn’t. Until we do, hopefully it doesn’t take long, we need to get the ball in the end zone,” Fisher said.
Despite the loss, the Titans came away pleased with the play of Britt, who had four catches for 85 yards and was nominated for Rookie of the Week.
“On a positive note, I thought Kenny did a great job. For a rookie, we asked him to do a lot and he really responded,” quarterback Kerry Collins said. “I liked what I saw in Kenny. I thought he played really well. There’s a couple of things he’ll learn, [and] he’ll learn every game.”
Gage concurred with that assessment, adding, “He was out there on the field not looking like a rookie — looking like a veteran receiver who knew what he was doing.”
Now, as the Titans turn their attention to the home opener against the Houston Texans on Sunday, they should have even more weapons at their disposal.
While Bo Scaife’s status is up in the air with a knee injury, the Titans are expected to have receiver Nate Washington close to full go from a hamstring injury and are likely to have rookie tight end Jared Cook back in action as well.
Cook, who led the team with 17 catches in preseason, missed the opener with an ankle injury.
“[We have] high expectations. He’s the guy that came in during OTAs and training camp and made his mark on the practice field,” Gage said of Cook. “Now he gets that opportunity in the game. My expectations are high for him, and I know the team has high expectations.”
The offense as a whole should continue to improve as the new additions get healthy and mesh together.
“I definitely think we’ll be much more dynamic, just from a receivers standpoint,” Gage said. “The addition of Nate Washington, Kenny Britt and Jared Cook, that opens up our passing game tremendously and gives us the ability to stretch the field. And that alone helps LenDale [White] and Chris Johnson to find holes and open up the running game.”
The new weapons will certainly help open things up for the Titans, but Collins warns that the lesson from the opener is simply better execution, no matter who is in the huddle.
“It’s the first game of the year. We can say ‘what if,’ but we’ve got to learn from it and get better and realize that if we play smarter and make better decisions at times, we’re going to win a lot of ballgames, and that’s what we have to keep in mind,” he said.