NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans interim coach Mike Mularkey has plenty to sort through as he steps in for Ken Whisenhunt.
With nine games to play, here's a list of nine priorities:
1 -** Win. It's what matters most. Whisenhunt went just 3-20 during his tenure with the team. It's why he's no longer around. The more games Mularkey wins, the better chance he has of taking over on a permanent basis.
2 - Regain a home-field advantage. The Titans used to own the turn at Nissan Stadium. Fans go to games wanting to have a good time. The four-game losing streak at home to start this season spelled doom for Whisenhunt, who went just 1-11 in home games.
3 - Protect the QB. It's hard to win games when your QB is hurting. Jake Locker and Zach Mettenberger both suffered season-ending injuries last year, and Marcus Mariota has already missed two games this year because of a knee injury. Zach Mettenberger was sacked 7 times vs. Houston. The hits need to stop.
4 - Fix the o-line. It's a large part of accomplishing No.3. Mularkey has already hinted at changes here. Jeremiah Poutasi has had some issues at right tackle. Maybe he just needs more help from time to time? Can some shuffling help? The team has options both inside and out.
5 - Change mindset. It's tough to play with a lot of confidence when you're losing games consistently. But the Titans clearly need an attitude adjustment. In close games, the team hasn't been able to close the deal. I think some guys have played too uptight. Loosen up, and play with an attitude.
6 -** Pound the rock. The Titans weren't able to run the football consistently under Whisenhunt, in part because running backs weren't able to get into a rhythm. Identify a lead back and stick with him when he's hot. Antonio Andrews looks like the best candidate to me so far, but help is on the way with David Cobb.
7 - Get Mariota on track: Mariota came out guns a' blazing at the start of the season. He struggled more in his last two starts. The rookie QB would benefit, of course, if the team can take care of No.3, No.4, and No.6 on this list. Opposing defenses have made adjustments to deal with Mariota, so a counter is also in play.
8 - Fix Hunter and DGB: I'm not saying these guys are broken, but I think they have more to offer an offense. For one reason or another, they haven't taken off. Some of it's on them, but perhaps more could done to take advantage of their skill-set in one-on-one situations. With Kendall Wright dealing with a knee injury, they're needed now more than ever.
9 - Win the AFC South: Yes, this could be No.1 on the list. But you have to win one before thinking too big. Hey, the division is there for the taking. Despite the 1-6 record, the Titans are just 1.5 games behind the Colts and Texans, both 3-5. The upcoming schedule for both teams is tough. The division is there for the taking. Go get it.