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Hot Topics from Titans HC Mike Vrabel's Monday Presser


NASHVILLE – Titans coach Mike Vrabel held a video conference call on Monday, one day after the team's 40-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Next up for the Titans is a game against the Texans on Sunday in Houston.

Here's a look at some of the hot topics from today's call:

Win and In

In a different city, and against a different team, the Titans get a chance at a do-over this Sunday.

A win against the Texans would make the Titans AFC South champs.

"Rarely do you get a second opportunity at something, and I think that is the message this week, to be able to go on the road, win a game, win our 11th game, win the division, and host a home playoff game," Vrabel said. "We're going to have to put everything that we have into it and continue to work, continue to try to prepare and fix the things that cost you."

Vrabel said being in similar situations in the past may help, but ultimately "you have to play well." The Titans won a win-and-in game last year at Houston, a year after losing in a win-and-in scenario in 2018.

"Playing well, and coaching well, is going to be important," Vrabel said.

Slow Starts

Slow starts have plagued the Titans in several games this season, and it resurfaced against the Packers.

The Titans found themselves down 19-0 against the Packers, and they never recovered.

"It's going to be critical that we start the game better," Vrabel said.

The keys to avoiding slow starts? Eliminating unforced errors, like kicking the ball out of bounds on the opening kickoff, turnovers, penalties, and other mistakes.

"We'll have to continue to focus on those things," Vrabel said.

Lapses on Defense

The Packers scored touchdowns on their first three possessions on a night when quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdowns.

Once again, the Titans failed to get critical stops.

Vrabel wasn't pointing fingers on Monday. Instead, he's looking for improvement.

"Just not good enough," Vrabel said. "We'll have to fix the things that we clearly did not execute. The first key was to make them earn what they got, and they had nine plays for over 200 yards, and so that's unfortunate. We'll have some keys this week as we approach the Texans, and we'll have to, as a team, have to find a way to accomplish those keys and that's all that matters."

Asked about his thoughts on the defense this season, Vrabel replied: "This isn't the time for reflection. This is the time to find out what we have to do to stop and defend the Texans, find out who is available for the game, and put together a plan with a lot of energy, a lot of passion, and teach, and practice, and ultimately perform."

Questionable Calls

There were at least two officiating calls on Sunday that raised some eyebrows while drawing criticism from fans.

Defensive back Joshua Kalu was called for lining up offsides on a play when the Titans blocked a field goal, although replays suggested otherwise. On a 59-yard run by Green Bay's Aaron Jones, replays also showed he clearly stepped out of bounds long before the end of the run, which set up a score.

Vrabel said the calls didn't cost the Titans the game. By the time he'd heard replays showed Jones out of bounds, "(the Packers) had snapped the ball."

"I coached fifth grade baseball in the Columbus Diocese League – we were three times champs, and I coached with Mike Mulligan," Vrabel said. "Mike Mulligan would tell the boys, and he would remind me, that when you show up for the game, you should expect some bad calls, and expect some called strikes that you thought were a ball. I try to use the same approach – it's a part of the game, and there may or may not be mistakes made, and we have to sit there and live with what is called. And we have to do a better job of making sure those are not close. So that's how it goes."

David Long Jr. Praise

Linebacker David Long Jr. played all 66 snaps on defense against the Packers, and he tied for the team lead with nine tackles, including a tackle for a loss.

Vrabel was impressed with his play, and effort.

"He's a very passionate player, and he does fly around," Vrabel said of Long. "He did have some good contact plays, and things he'll have to improve on. He had two plays where I thought he played full tilt to the tackle and also was smart in not making those (bad) penalties."

Next Challenge: Deshaun Watson

The Titans just faced the NFL's top-rated quarterback in Rodgers, and it didn't go so well.

Now they'll face the NFL's No.2 ranked quarterback in Deshaun Watson of the Texans.

Watson has thrown for 4,458 yards with 30 touchdowns and just six interceptions this season, with a 112.1 rating. Watson completed 28-of-37 passes for 335 yards with four touchdowns and a 138.9 rating in a 42-36 loss to the Titans in Week 6.

"If you just let him sit back there and pick you apart – he is 70 percent accurate," Vrabel said of Watson. "And he is tough to bring down, has great play strength and keeps his eyes down the field. … He has a strong arm, can scramble to throw, can scramble to run.

"He is a very talented player, is an unbelievable person, so it's going to be a huge challenge."

The Tennessee Titans take on the Green Bay Packers in Week 16 at Lambeau Field.

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