The Tennessee Titans were adamant about one thing following their 38-13 season opening loss to the Arizona Cardinals Sunday at Nissan Stadium: They aren't going to make excuses.
Well, how about taking some responsibility?
Despite what the players will tell you, the Titans offensive discombobulation was likely a direct reflection of the zero combined snaps Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown and Julio Jones had in the preseason.
It was foolish to think the Titans offense was going to set the world on fire after just one full week of practice together. It was also irrational to expect anything other than the disaster that unfolded on Sunday when the team’s “big four” hadn’t played a meaningful snap in over eight months. That’s on the coaches.
“You get out there and it's critical that everybody's on the same page,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “…I hope that we have an attitude that is ready to compete and not just think that we can just show up in this league.”
Added Tannehill: “I’m not going to make excuses; we had opportunities. A.J. made a couple big plays for us. Julio made some big plays for us. We had other opportunities that were there, and we weren’t able to make them happen. It’ll be a big week for us to reset, have a great week of practice and get ready for Sunday.”
Brown’s first reception didn’t come until 10:56 in the second quarter, and Jones didn’t record a reception until the final two minutes of the first half.
Tannehill’s 17.7 QBR on Sunday was the worst of his tenure as the Titans’ starting quarterback, and his 74.9 passer rating was his second-worst. It was also just the fifth time in 27 starts with Tannehill completed 60 percent or fewer of his passes.
Of course, the offensive line did the Titans no favors either, allowing six sacks — tying the high mark for the club with Tannehill — while Henry rushed for just 58 yards on 17 carries.
“You play like that, there should be no shock,” Vrabel said. “We shouldn't have to look too long and hard why we lost the game…It sucks when you lose, sucks when you get your ass kicked.”
Of course, not all of the blame rests on the offense. No, there’s plenty of finger pointing left over for the defense, too.
Eleven teams allowed 400 yards or more on Sunday and the Titans were one of them. They were also tied for the second-most points allowed as well.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray sat back and dissected the Titans secondary with surgical precision. He became just the sixth player in NFL history with at least four passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown in a season opener. He finished with 309 total yards and five total touchdowns.
The number of memorable defensive plays can be counted on one hand — Kevin Byard’s third quarter interception, plus sacks by Harold Landry and Jeffery Simmons. That’s it.
Bud Dupree, Denico Autry, Jackrabbit Jenkins, Caleb Farley and Elijah Molden combined for 12 total tackles (eight from Jenkins alone), zero sacks and zero turnovers.
“These games are not played on paper no matter who we have, who we sign, what type of guys we have on this team,” Byard said. “We’ve got to go out there and perform every single week. It’s not about what you said you’re going to do. It’s about what you do. We didn’t do enough to win. We put on a pretty bad performance.”
There’s no arguing that new offensive coordinator Todd Downing and new defensive coordinator Shane Bowen both earned F’s in their season debuts. After all, Sunday seemed more like Game 4 of the preseason than Week 1 of the regular season.
But if there is one silver lining to Sunday’s disastrous performance it’s that the Titans get to test their resolve early. As many of the players stated following the game, it’s a long season.
If the Titans are to truly take the next step toward contending for a Super Bowl, how they respond in Week 2 could be indicative of what kind of team Tennessee truly is.
“We’re going to find out what type of coaches we have, what type of guys we have in this locker room," Byard said. "And I know we have the right guys on this team to battle back after a tough loss like that. It’s a long year and we’re going to look at it just like that.”
Added Tannehill: “I have belief that we will respond in the right way…We’ll find a way to make the corrections, come to practice this week, prepare and go out to Seattle and win one game…I have confidence in the locker room and the guys.”
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_