Thursday game gives Titans no time to fix mistakes


Thursday game gives Titans no time to fix mistakes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Chris Johnson succinctly sums up the Tennessee Titans' problems: Everybody is taking turns making mistakes.

His teammates pretty much agree.

Knowing the problem and fixing it is proving much tougher than the Titans (1-4) expected. They also have no time to dwell on how quickly this season has gone so wrong because the Pittsburgh Steelers visit Thursday night.

``We don't look like a good team, so I wouldn't sit here and say that we're close,'' Johnson said Monday.

That's one good thing about the quick turnaround for coaches and players who want to erase the bad memories of the first five weeks.

``It's frustrating,'' coach Mike Munchak said. ``Believe me, we're frustrated a lot of ways just like the fans are, which they should be. We know this is our big opportunity to hopefully change the opinion of a lot of people by how we play on Thursday night.''

Tennessee went 9-7 in Munchak's first season as head coach in 2011, just missing a wild-card berth on a tiebreaker, and the coach said he sees probably more talent on this roster.

Unfortunately, these Titans can't hold onto the football offensively, the defense struggles to tackle and now discipline is becoming an issue with 10 penalties in a 30-7 loss at Minnesota. Munchak said he believes he has the right coaches and players to turn this season around.

``We haven't shown that the first five weeks,'' Munchak said. ``We realize that. We're responsible for what's happening out there, and we're the only ones that can fix it.''

The Titans can blame a tough early schedule, facing teams with a combined record of 15-8. Tennessee's lone win came against the only opponent currently with a losing mark, and the Titans needed overtime to edge Detroit (1-3). Down the stretch, the Titans play only two teams currently with winning records in Chicago and Houston.

That offers no hope unless the Titans dramatically clean up their act.

No NFL offense hold the ball less than Tennessee at 24 minutes, 50 seconds per game, and only five teams score fewer points per game than the Titans. Previously, it seemed the running game was the biggest issue. Against Minnesota, even the normally sure-handed Johnson fumbled, and Matt Hasselbeck was intercepted on the next series.

``That's been a big thing,'' tight end Jared Cook said. ``We've kind of been shooting ourselves in the foot a lot. We're just not moving the ball like we did last year. We're a better team than that. We know that. We're just not doing what we need to do.''

Against Pittsburgh (2-2), the Titans will play their second straight game with Hasselbeck at quarterback while Jake Locker heals up after dislocating his left, non-throwing shoulder Sept. 30. Munchak said it doesn't make sense to dress Locker either, so they are holding him to see how he is for a trip Oct. 21 to Buffalo.

Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray is being criticized heavily for a unit that has given up an NFL-worst 181 points, though the 30 allowed to Minnesota was the fewest given up in a game so far by Tennessee. Cornerback Jason McCourty said the poor play can be blamed on the players.

``Coach Gray can do but so much by calling plays,'' McCourty said. ``It's up to us once the play comes in to execute and make a play. There were times the running back was squirting out or we gave up a pass. That's on us. ... We have to find a way to win our one-on-one matchups.''

This franchise has had plenty of ugly starts since relocating to Tennessee in 1997 with 0-6 in 2009 the worst. That season, the Titans turned to Johnson who wound up running for 2,006 yards in helping them salvage an 8-8 record. At this point, the Titans could threaten the 4-12 record of 2005 for the worst season in Tennessee.

Safety Michael Griffin said they know the fans are down on the Titans right now. Unlike 2009, he said these Titans are not turning against each other.

``We're all trying to get better,'' he said. ``In the past, you started seeing a lot of finger pointing, things of that nature. Right now we're all still together.''

Notes: The Titans had a walk-through practice Monday to start preparing for the Steelers. WR Kenny Britt (left ankle), LB Colin McCarthy (right ankle) and Locker did not practice. S Jordan Babineaux (knee) was limited along with LB Patrick Bailey (hand), CB Ryan Mouton (knee), CB Alterraun Verner (thigh) and DE Scott Solomon (hamstring).


Online: and


Follow Teresa M. Walker on Twitter:

Quick Links

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.


Quick Links

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

USA Today Sports

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.


Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.


Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.


Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.


Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.