Vrabel, Titans working to fix issues before breaking for bye
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans will not be escaping quickly now that they’re back from London and mired in a three-game skid.
First-year head coach Mike Vrabel wants to look closely at what the Titans (3-4) must fix to snap that skid that cost them the lead in the AFC South for a franchise that hasn’t won its division since 2008. The Titans also get a little bit more time around their bye with their next game not until Nov. 5 in prime-time at Dallas.
“Losing is never going to feel good,” Vrabel said Monday. “I think that they realize that things aren’t broken. We just have to fix a few things and finish off a game. We have to try to figure out a way to win a game.”
Vrabel gave the Titans the day off Monday after Tennessee arrived back in Nashville in the wee hours from their 20-19 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in London. The Titans will work Tuesday and Wednesday before getting their break for the bye.
Even with a day to think about his decision to go for the 2-point conversion and the lead with 31 seconds left, Vrabel still isn’t second-guessing himself or offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. Marcus Mariota’s pass to Taywan Taylor was incomplete, even though Dion Lewis appeared open to the right side on a day he caught all six passes thrown to him for 64 yards.
Vrabel refused to call that a misread by Mariota.
“We didn’t execute the play,” Vrabel said. “We didn’t score, we didn’t get open well enough. We didn’t block well enough. Unfortunately, that’s not good. That’s not good enough.”
As the Titans look at themselves, dropped passes remain an issue for an offense that ranks 30th in yards passing and 30th in points scored per game. The Titans rank second in the NFL dropping 6.3 percent of passes overall with the third-most drops on third down, according to NFL Matchup on ESPN.
Taylor dropped a pass earlier in the fourth quarter and caught only one pass for 8 yards. Corey Davis, the fifth overall pick in 2017, caught three for 10 yards. He also dropped a pass on the same drive as Taylor, failing to bring in the ball with one hand.
The Titans rank eighth in the NFL in passing defense, yet giving up long passes remains an issue. They gave up a 75-yard touchdown pass on the Chargers’ first offensive play and a 55-yarder for the only TDs allowed by a Tennessee defense that ranks third in fewest points allowed per game.
Cornerback Malcolm Butler, the Titans’ big free agent addition in March didn’t start and was limited to 29 snaps. Vrabel said there were a lot of problems on the two TD passes allowed and he wants players not trying to do someone else’s job.
Tennessee ended a TD drought that spanned 155 minutes, 17 seconds, and the Titans allowed only two sacks after giving up a franchise-worst 11 in being shut out by Baltimore last week. They outgained the Chargers 390-344 and held the ball for more than 35 minutes with a season-high 164 yards rushing.
The schedule doesn’t ease after the bye with the trip to Dallas followed by hosting New England in the Titans’ lone home game in November followed by division road trips to Indianapolis and Houston.
Vrabel said he doesn’t think any of the Titans have done the best they can and everyone needs to practice and prepare better.
“Ultimately, it comes down to our performance on Sunday,” Vrabel said.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker