Now 1-0 like last season, Titans wary of repeat performance
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans are in an all too familiar situation, a case of deja vu they can’t wait to end.
Just like 2014, the Titans went 2-2 in the preseason and opened the season with a big win on the road. Now they want to ensure their rout at Tampa Bay doesn’t end up being half their win total, which was the case last season when the Titans finished 2-14 after a surprising season-opening win at Kansas City.
Left tackle Taylor Lewan wants his teammates so focused on avoiding a repeat of 2014 that he made sure rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota was aware of the similarities while they watched the 42-14 win in Tampa Bay from the sideline in the fourth quarter. Lewan also talked to coach Ken Whisenhunt as soon as they got on the plane.
“I think everyone’s very wary of what happened last year,” Lewan said Wednesday. “I mean we’re a different team. We’re establishing a different culture about us, and we’re ready to play this football game. ... We just have to continue to keep growing.”
Making the Titans even more cautious is their opponent Sunday. They set the wrong kind of NFL mark last season against the Cleveland Browns, blowing a 25-point lead that was largest ever by a home team in losing.
Right guard Chance Warmack said that ranks in the category of something a person never forgets, especially the fourth-and-1 they didn’t convert with a chance to run out the clock to seal a win. Instead, the Titans were left at 1-4 and finished the season with 10 straight losses.
“I’m not going to say it haunts you throughout your career, but you definitely remember things like that,” Warmack said. “Going into Cleveland just want to put yourself in the best situation possible.”
These Titans are very different from last season with 18 new players on the roster, including seven starters. The biggest change is at quarterback where Mariota is coming off a nearly impeccable debut. Mariota had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 against Jameis Winston and Tampa Bay while throwing four touchdown passes.
It was the kind of win Mariota enjoyed frequently in college at Oregon, and the rookie called it a confidence booster for one game.
“I wasn’t here last year, but a lot of the guys continue to talk about how they won the first game and it didn’t work out so well,” Mariota said. “So these guys are really motivated. They know they can’t take all the credit in the world right now. We’ve just got to focus on what’s at hand and take it one day at a time.”
Mariota also has heard a little bit about the loss to the Browns.
“That’s why these guys in the locker room are motivated and hungry to redeem it,” Mariota said.
This franchise hasn’t started 2-0 since 2008 — its last playoff appearance. So Whisenhunt can just point back to last year if he sees anyone not focused enough.
“That certainly helps, but that’s where we are as a football team,” Whisenhunt said. “We really haven’t done anything. I like our approach. I like the way that guys have handled it, and hopefully we’ll keep doing it.”
Notes: TE Delanie Walker said his right wrist was sprained. He did not practice Wednesday along with CB Jason McCourty (groin), NT Sammie Hill (right knee), CB Cody Riggs (knee) and RB Antonio Andrews (hamstring).
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