The Tennessee Titans offense has operated a bit more efficiently since Ryan Tannehill replaced Marcus Mariota under center two games ago.
The result has been better red zone work, two weeks in a row above 20 points and two victories that have the Titans back to .500 at 4-4 heading into this week’s road trip to Carolina.
Tannehill said Wednesday that he would like for the Titans to have more red zone opportunities, but has been glad that the team has cashed in recently on the chances it has had.
“I think the guys are executing. We’ve had some opportunities. I’d like to have a few more down in the red zone. I think that’s one area where we can just get down there more,” Tannehill said. “We’re executing, we’re getting touchdowns when we’re down there, but we need to get down there a few more times per game. I’m really proud of the guys the way they just keep battling. A few times we went to third down, and we’re finally able to convert, get in the end zone on third down. So, just that belief that, ‘Hey, we’re going to get in the end zone. Maybe on first down, maybe on second, maybe on third.’ When we get down there, we believe we’re going to get in the end zone.”
The Titans had two drives start inside the Bucs’ 10 yard line, thanks to turnovers last week, and later had a sustained drive of 90-yards that turned into the decisive touchdown.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel praised Tannehill’s decisiveness and the play of the Titans receivers for making plays when the ball is thrown into tight windows down on the goal line.
Tannehill has five TD passes in two games as the starters, while Marcus Mariota had just seven touchdown passes through the first six games.
(It’s) just guys operating efficiently, being decisive with the ball. Guys making good plays, catching the football,” Vrabel said. “The pass to Jonnu (Smith) was decisive. It wasn’t completely accurate, but the receiver made the quarterback right. The one to A.J. (Brown) I would say would fall under accurate, a great route and a good catch. The one to Tajaé (Sharpe), I would say that was well thrown, well executed, well caught.
“Going back to (the Los Angeles Chargers game in Week 7), decisive to Corey (Davis). We just need to continue to carryover that consistency, and decision making and the confidence that we have down there to the rest of the field.”
While the Titans didn’t have much in the way of sustained drives Sunday – except for the one in the fourth quarter, Tannehill said he likes the mindset once the Titans get scoring chances.
“There’s good focus throughout the game, so I don’t think it’s lack of focus that’s hindering us. I think that guys are excited when we get down there,” he said. “There’s a little bit more juice just knowing, ‘Hey, we’re down here. This is a big opportunity. These are big downs and we need to get in the end zone.’ I wouldn’t say the focus narrows, or anything like that, but the intensity of knowing what’s going on, knowing how important each down is down there is big for us. I know guys believe in it and want to get in the end zone.”
Kicker Ryan Succop is still practicing and working toward his return, perhaps this week. The Titans still have Cody Parkey on the roster as well.
The team also allowed defensive back Josh Kalu to practice for the first time Wednesday. Kalu has been on injured reserve and is designated to return once the team deems him good to go.
“Josh (Kalu) is going to be practicing today. That’s all I can tell you. After that, when something else happens, when he goes from being able to practice to whether being on the active roster or not, we’ll try to keep you updated there,” Vrabel said.
As for Succop, Vrabel said, “I don’t want to put any percentages on it, but that’s why we’re practicing him to evaluate him, to see how he feels, to see what he looks like, and then make a decision.”
The Titans held out Ben Jones (concussion), Delanie Walker (ankle) and Jurrell Casey (shoulder) on Wednesday. Several players were limited including Adoree’ Jackson (foot), Malcolm Butler (hamstring), Chris Milton (ankle), Harold Landry (shoulder), Rodger Saffold (concussion) and Cameron Wake (not injury related). Sharif Finch returned to full practice with his injured shoulder.