|Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck faced a suffocating pass rush in Sunday's loss to the Vikings. Hasselbeck has been sacked five times in the last two weeks. (AP)|
Only 10 players on the Tennessee Titans' active roster remain from the team that was on the losing end of a 59-0 defeat to the Patriots on a snowy afternoon in October of 2009.
The loss in Foxborough dropped Tennessee to 0-6 and ended a three-game stretch in which the Titans were outscored 127-26. After a lackluster 30-7 loss in Minnesota, several prominent players on Monday drew comparisons with the opening to the 2009 season.
Following a bye week in 2009, the Titans reeled off five straight wins and seven of eight to get back to .500. Less than 24 hours after the defeat to the Vikings, the sentiment in the Titans' locker room is that a similar turnaround can be accomplished.
“We're not turning against each other, we're all trying to get better,” S Michael Griffin said. “In the past you start seeing a lot of finger pointing and things of that nature but right now we're all still together.”
In three road games this season, the Titans (1-4) have been outscored 106-31. Tennessee has allowed a league-high 181 points, has a league-worst minus-93 point differential and has the lowest average time of possession per game in the NFL (24:50). The Titans have struggled to pressure opposing quarterbacks, ranking 30th in sacks per pass attempt (3.87 percent) and have failed to establish a run game. With Chris Johnson rushing for just 210 yards through five games, the Titans have the league's 30th ranked rushing attack.
It's unlikely anyone in the locker room will rant or rave before Thursday's game vs. the Steelers in an effort to fire up teammates. Johnson, for one, is not in favor of it.
“That's not going to make (anyone) block somebody or catch a ball by yelling and throwing things in the locker room,” Johnson said. “If it takes that for you to get going you don't need to be out there playing.”
DB Jason McCourty, a co-defensive captain, was a rookie in 2009 during the game at New England when the Titans suffered their worst defeat in franchise history. Two weeks later, the Titans ended the losing streak with a 30-13 win over Jacksonville.
“We went into the bye week and just got away,” McCourty said. “It wasn't like somebody stood up and gave us a movie type speech and we just turned it around like from Any Given Sunday. As a team we just collectively played better.”
Titans coach Mike Munchak said Monday he plans on keeping offensive coordinator Chris Palmer and defensive coordinator Jerry Gray on the staff for at least the remainder of the season. With a short week, Munchak doesn't plan on making any changes to the starting lineup against the Steelers.
“You move on and you're forced to move on,” Munchak said. “You kind of re-focus, it's a game at our place. We all know where we're at and we're not happy where we're at.”
Locker ruled out vs. Steelers: Starting QB Jake Locker will miss his second straight game with soreness in his left (non-throwing) shoulder, Munchak said. Locker will be re-evaluated before an Oct. 11 game at Buffalo.
“He's getting better, there's no doubt about it,” Munchak said. “For a short week it wouldn't make any sense to hurry him back for Thursday.”
Since Locker re-injured his shoulder in week 4 at Houston, Hasselbeck has completed 43 of 68 attempts for 393 yards. Hasselbeck has three touchdowns, three interceptions and has been sacked five times. Two of the interceptions were returned for touchdowns.
“I was hoping this game would go better because he had the whole week of practice,” Munchak said. “I think when you throw the ball 50-times almost, it makes it hard. With a lot of dropback passes we're putting both our quarterbacks under a lot of pressure to perform.”
Other injuries: RB Javon Ringer injured a medial collateral ligament in his knee late in the fourth quarter vs. the Vikings. Ringer is expected to miss the next four to six weeks. It was feared Ringer could be out for the season after he was carted off the field on Sunday.
Neither LB Colin McCarthy, nor WR Kenny Britt suffered setbacks with their respective ankle injuries. McCarthy received 60 snaps or 87 percent of the Titans' defensive plays, according to NFLGSIS.com. The second-year linebacker appeared in his first game since suffering the injury in week 1. Britt received 28 snaps or 38 percent of Tennessee's offensive snaps, according to NFLGSIS.
“It's a credit to both those guys, how hard they worked and how important it is to be out there,” Munchak said. “They know how much their team needs them. They know what difference makers they can be.”
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the Tennessee Titans, follow Matt Rybaltowski @CBSTitans.