NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Titans are in the midst of their first losing streak in over a calendar year and head coach Mike Vrabel knows exactly who he is blaming, himself.
Monday with questions pouring in about the Titans defense, lack of pass rush, 3rd down failure and no defensive coordinator Vrabel pointed the finger directly at himself.
“Put it all on me. That’s my job.” Vrabel said, “My job is to make sure that we go out there and that we have the details covered and the plays that we’re calling, every player on our team knows what’s expected of them. When we lose, put it on me. That’s my job, that’s what I signed up for. I’m back to work. I’m excited. I’m determined to get us back to the winning football.”
Dean Pees retired as defensive coordinator after last season and Vrabel elected not to hire a replacement or even name one. Outside linebacker coach Shane Bowen is calling the defensive plays but Vrabel has always said it is a collaboration of defensive coaches.
After the loss at Cincinnati Vrabel said he knew the lack of a coordinator was not the Titans problem. Monday he was asked to elaborate, “I was trying to explain to you that this isn’t just a weekly thing where we throw up some plays and see what ends up on the call sheet. We have to coach and play better in all levels of our team, on offense, on special teams, and on defense, and we have to do that. We have to practice better and that will lead to obviously better performance and continue to grind and to stick together as a team, which I know we have and will.”
Defensively 3rd down can not get much worse, the Titans are last in the NFL failing on 3rd down over 61% of the time. That number is actually worse, 67% over the last four games.
Why are they struggling so badly? A combination of injuries in the secondary to Adoree Jackson, Kristian Fulton and Tye Smith and pass rush completely lacking any pressure. The Titans failed to come up with a single sack against a Bengals offensive line that had four starters out due to injury and they have only 7 in 7 games. Yeah, 7, that is an embarrassing number.
Also drawing the ire of fans is the ZERO sacks Jadeveon Clowney and Vic Beasley have combined for after signing for more than $21-million before the season.
“When you go back and watch, it’s not just one phase. It’s four phases.” Vrabel explained, “It’s our ability to coach and improve that area. It’s the ability to clean up details and continue and extend drives offensively and not stall, to make a bigger impact and play better on special teams, and then defensively, again, it’s going to come down to third downs. Five third-and-ones, a third-and-two that was again, that was competitive, but those are difficult. The good snaps that are there, the tackle for losses, the times we do affect the quarterback when he throws it away, get muddied up by the inability for us to get off the field on third down like yesterday.”
With no defensive coordinator this defense belongs to the head coach, he knows it, but does he know how to fix it?
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