Protection Plan: Titans O-Linemen Work to Improve

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NASHVILLE – Titans veteran tackle Dennis Kelly learned early in his playing career never to point fingers.

When a receiver drops a pass, or a defensive back gets beat, it's on them to improve and correct it without getting blowback from a player at another position. Because when an offensive lineman gets beat for a sack, it's on him to clean it up.

"You really have to focus on yourself and handle what you can handle and try and do what you can do better," Kelly said. "And that's the approach we're taking."

During the first three games of the season, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has been sacked 17 times. He was sacked nine times in the team's 20-7 loss to the Jaguars after being sacked four times each in games vs. the Browns and Colts.

On Monday, members of the offensive line said they've reviewed the tape, and collectively they didn't like what they saw.

Now it's a matter of cleaning things up before Sunday's game against the Falcons.

"You have to put it all on the table," tackle Jack Conklin said. "We are professionals and you have to hold yourself accountable and say when you messed up and figure out how to fix it. Because if you don't own up to it, you'll never get it changed."

Mariota was sacked just once in the first half against the Jaguars, but he was sacked eight times in the second half.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel said the issues vs Jacksonville stemmed from a combination of things, from technique to communication issues to guys just getting beat on the offensive line. On occasion, Mariota appeared to hold the ball too long, resulting in him being swarmed.

Vrabel said the Jaguars were in a position to blitz the Titans because of their lead, and the team didn't always handle it well. The long down-and-distance situations vs. Jacksonville also made the Titans more predictable from a play-calling standpoint as well.

On Monday the offensive linemen said it was more on technique and performance and less about communication issues.

"Unfortunately there have been times when, let's say four guys are doing their job, and maybe one guy isn't," Kelly said. "It just happens to be the one guy gets beat enough that that's a sack. It just has to be us playing our game and playing with confidence. It's early in the season. There's no need to panic or anything like that. It is just trusting our communication and technique."

Everyone agreed on this: The problems are correctable.

"We have 13 games left, so I am not worried," guard Rodger Saffold said. "The biggest thing is: What can we do to improve? Coaches have taken responsibility, we have taken responsibility. I think that we'll get it fixed."

The Tennessee Titans practice on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019 at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Donald Page)

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