Two things strike me in looking broadly at what the Tennessee Titans are doing right now, and I don’t mean to short-change the defense but that will be a side effect here.
Mike Munchak said at his Monday press conference that his team is going to resist doing anything on offense in order to prove something. I will certainly point out the Titans' limitations at times. I do like a team with a string identity that can, at least at times, do what it does best and challenge a defense to stop it.
They see themselves as a running team, for sure. But what I may see as limitations at times, they see more as selections in a given game, and at 2-1 it’s hard to find too much fault in what they’ve done.
I don’t think a lot of offenses do things to prove to the press or fans that they can do them. I do think some teams do things because it was the plan, they think the plan should work and they are too afraid or too narrow minded to adjust away from the primary plan.
“Coach (Dowell) Loggains has been saying that about the offense, ‘Hey, we’re going to be what we have to be on a Sunday to win, depending who we’re playing against, what the matchups are and what’s happening in the game,’” Munchak said. “We’re not going to just force plays because, 'Hey, we need to show that Jake (Locker) can do this or the receivers can do this’ or ‘Hey, we have to show we have a certain running game or we’re tough guys.’ It’s really finding a way every week.
“The stuff is in. It’s not like, ‘OK, we put a lot of passes in this week.’ The same amount of passes were in. Guys were getting open, guys were making plays, we were protecting well.”
The Titans are going to be a predominantly run-based offense, but if Locker is the guy we saw against San Diego they could have the ability to adjust to what a game dictates and that’s a nice approach to be able to take. It beats stubborn. It beats one-dimensional.
The second thing that begs some reflection is Loggains discussion of the difference between this team and last year’s -- there is better leadership, and better leadership is doing a lot to help the team overcome bad stuff.
“The biggest step this team has taken, once we eliminate these penalties is, dealing with adversity,” Loggains said. “Because we have better leadership, we’re stronger. Nate Washington is a leader. Jake, every time he has success, it’s just more and more, he’s going to come into his own as a leader. He is a leader anyway, but you have to eventually have success to become a leader.
“Mike Roos, Andy Levitre, Rob Turner, all those guys are leaders, they don’t flinch when we hit adversity. ... That’s the biggest difference between last year and this year. Now if we clean up the penalties, if we continue to get better every week executing and those three guy jell inside, I think we have a chance to be a good football team.”
Overcoming adversity has been a big theme since Munchak took over the Titans in 2011, and every team is going to hit spots it has to endure.
I did like heading into the opener when Munchak said he hoped the Titans started well and got to see how the Steelers dealt with rough development instead of the Titans. It didn’t go that way. The Titans handed the Steelers a safety on the opening kick.
They survived that and won. They played pretty well in Houston but lost. They certainly got good leadership and stuck with things during down moments against the Chargers and pulled out that win with 15 seconds left.
They have a lot of cause to feel good about themselves at this point.
Like the Titans, the Jets are better than a lot of people thought. Tennessee certainly can’t afford to feel like it’s accomplished anything yet.