Titans' offensive struggles not new, can't get much worse

Monday, November 29, 2010 at 9:45pm

The Tennessee Titans’ offensive meltdown Sunday at Houston was not the result of issues that suddenly, unexpectedly flared.

It was more like a block of ice left out in the sun suddenly reduced to water. The same issues had existed for weeks.

“We have quarterbacks revolving through the door and injuries, and we’re just having difficulties converting third downs and getting the run game going,” coach Jeff Fisher said Monday.

Ever since a 37-19 victory over Philadelphia on Oct. 24, the offense has been in a steady decline. It has scored fewer and fewer points each game since as three different quarterbacks have started the four games.

If there’s any good news, it’s tough to imagine that things can get any worse than they were in the 20-0 loss to the Texans, when Tennessee managed just 162 total yards, nine first downs and 24 net rushing yards – all season-lows – in rookie quarterback Rusty Smith’s first career start.

The same was true for the point total as the Titans were held scoreless for the first time since a 59-0 loss to New England in Week 6 of last season. The offense, however, has not scored a touchdown since a 14-yard reception by Nate Washington with 1:13 to go  in the third quarter Nov. 15 at Miami.

“Clearly our plan going in was to get the run game going and get Chris (Johnson) going to take the pressure off the rookie quarterback,” Fisher said. “…We had a number of negative plays on first down, whether it was a penalty or not, we had a lot of situations where we had third-and-longs.  I think we had eight third-and-10 plusses out of 12 third-down attempts, and those are difficult to overcome.”

Johnson finished with a career-low five yards on seven carries. Smith completed 17 of 31 passes but was intercepted three times. Penalties (10 for 79 yards) contributed to the struggles.

“(Smith) took a little longer at the line of scrimmage to make some checks,” Fisher said. “He was very aware with what was going on, he was just a little unsettled with the noise and that was one of the reasons for the false starts. He made some good decisions, he had four drops or something like that, he made some good throws and of course he had a couple where he went to the wrong place. That’s going to happen.”

The question is whether it’s going to happen again.

Veteran quarterback Kerry Collins, who missed the last two games with a calf injury, was the backup on Sunday and might be able to play this Sunday against Jacksonville.

Fisher said he will name a starter later in the week rather than wait until gameday as he did several times earlier in the year when it was a choice between Collins and Vince Young.

“There is a competitive difference between Kerry and Vince obviously,” Fisher said.  “There is not a competitive difference between Rusty’s (Smith) style and Kerry’s style, so when we know if (Collins) can go we’ll let you know.”

They can only hope things start to get better.


• Fisher praised cornerback Cortland Finnegan for his behavior in an altercation with Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson, which resulted in both players being ejected.

Both players were fined $25,000 Monday but neither was suspended.

“(Finnegan) was not going to hurt the football team, and by that he didn’t fight back,” Fisher said. “From that standpoint you have to say he kept his composure.

“…You have two very talented, talented, good football players competing and it’s just very unfortunate.  It’s not good for our game, and I’m just disappointed that that type of thing happens on the playing field.”

That doesn’t mean he was disappointed in his player.

•  Young underwent surgery Monday afternoon to repair a torn ligament in the thumb on his right (throwing) hand. It was the injury that ended his season – he was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 23, two days after he was hurt in the overtime loss to Washington.

“The thumb will be immobilized, that’s the nature of the surgery, just to immobilize the thumb so they can reattach the tendons,” Fisher said. “We were told (it requires)  somewhere in the five-to-eight week range (of rehabilitation).”

8 Comments on this post:

By: Jagman on 11/30/10 at 8:41

Look at Fisher's record. Both he and Young should go.

By: gdiafante on 11/30/10 at 9:01

Yes, I agree.

Call Wade Phillips or Brad Childress immediately. Maybe you can persuade Vinny Testeverde to come back ala Favre.

Sounds like a plan.

By: sprim on 11/30/10 at 9:27

Leave Coach Fisher alone.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T - you must have this from ALL your players. If not, then they need to go, not the coach. Coach Fisher has done wonderful things in this community; how dare anyone wish him gone.

I really wish a player in the locker room would step up and show themselves as well as their fans, that they do want to win and they do really care.
Be a Leader!!! On Gameday, start a dance; get everyone up and excited to be there!!

Television only shows us some, of what is happening on the field, so it is hard for all those who cannot afford to go to a game, to see what is actually going on.
We are just as loyal to our team as those who go every week are, so players, please start showing us something...E-F-F-O-R-T, players. Love my Titans!!!

By: bfra on 11/30/10 at 10:00

For all the naysayers: Let's see your arse on the field Sunday or in Fisher's spot. That would really add amusement to the game. Easy to redicule while sitting in the bleachers, in front of a TV or soaking up suds, at some sports bar!

I am for the Titans, 100%! GO TITANS!

By: gdiafante on 11/30/10 at 10:17

Fisher is still living off 1999. He hasn't won anything since. In fact, the teams have been seriously erratic...10-0 to start one season, 0-6 another.

It would help if he wasn't handcuffed with a senile owner who forces a child to be the franchise quarterback.

But he doesn't help by letting the inmates run the asylum.

I wouldn't doubt he's waiting for that LA franchise to materialize. Then, see ya hillbillies!

By: jwk6179 on 11/30/10 at 7:53

Jeff Fisher has been the coach for the Oilers/Titans for 16 seasons. Sometimes, a coach reaches a certain place with one franchise and just can't seem to be able to take it any further. Maybe that has happened to Jeff Fisher with the Titans. Look at Bill Cowher, Chuck Knoll, Mike Shanahan. They were very successful with their teams until the last few years they were coaching them and then they just couldn't seem to get passed a certain level with any consistancey. Maybe Jeff Fisher has reached that point in his career with the Titans.

By: Just Sayin on 12/1/10 at 8:24

As I read these postings I respect the loyalty of true fans, one wishes that a player will become a leader and make everything turn around, another wants us to put ourselves in Fisher's shoes on game day. What has to be realized is that this is a bussiness, and I don't beleive that the owner is senile or a fool. He pays millions of dollars in salaries to the players and coaches, and expects everyone to produce positive results. When on the field as well as off the field becomes a circus, he needs to make bussines decisons. I believe he will, only to keep his franchise healthy and profitable.

By: TITAN1 on 12/1/10 at 3:44

LOL! Making it so obvious!