NASHVILLE – In terms of his own production, Ryan Tannehill has gotten off to a pretty fast start since taking over as the starting quarterback for the Tennessee Titans.
In his first three games, Tannehill has thrown for 836 yards, including a season-high 331 yards on Sunday vs. the Panthers. Tannehill has six touchdown passes vs. three interceptions, with passer ratings of 120.1, 109.8 and 82.3 in his first three starts. The Titans are 2-1 in those games.
As an offense, however, the Titans have been plagued by slow starts since the beginning of the season. And the issue cropped up again in Sunday's loss to the Panthers, when the Titans found themselves trailing 17-0 at the half.
It marked the fourth time in nine games the Titans had been held scoreless at the half.
Something needs to change, Tannehill said. The Titans have been outscored 43-34 in the first quarter this season, and 95-70 in the first half of games.
"Coach (Mike) Vrabel spends a lot of time on technique and fundamentals, and just playing clean football," Tannehill said on Wednesday, "and we've hurt ourselves. You go back to the beginning of the year and too many drives early in games have been stopped by ourselves – penalties, and dumb mistakes. We just have to play clean football, play with fundamentals and good technique, take care of the football and we'll be moving the ball.
"I don't think we're playing clean football right now in the first half and that has come back to haunt us. We have to be able to come out early and play clean football. There is nothing complicated about it – we just have to be able to sustain drive and get points."
Nine games into the season the Titans are ranked 26th in the NFL in total offense (18th rushing, 24th passing). The team is 26th in the NFL in scoring.
On Sunday, the Titans will face a Kansas City team that's ranked sixth in the NFL in offense (yards), and sixth in scoring.
Tannehill said the Titans need to finish drives in the red zone, which has been an area of improvement. The Titans are among the NFL's top teams when it comes down to scoring touchdowns in the red zone.
Getting there has been a part of the problem, thanks to penalties, turnovers and inconsistent play. And the team's kicking game has been suspect as well.
Here's a scary stat: Kansas City has outscored its opponents 161-108 in the first half of games this season, including 107-38 in the second quarter.
The Chiefs are ranked 22nd in the NFL on defense.
"Just being clean on first and second down, keeping yourself in third and manageable, converting those and keeping drives going, sustaining drives," Tannehill said. "Finishing drives in the red zone. When you get down there, you have to put them in the red zone and in doing that I think we'll put ourselves in the best position to win.
"The (Chiefs) do a lot of things well (on defense). I think a strong front, tough, physical, big front. The linebackers play really hard, they pressure a lot. They're going to try to give you a bunch of different looks. They're physical on the outside. They get hands on the receiver to try to disrupt the timing, they disguise a lot in the secondary, they're going to zero pressure at times. They really kind of throw a lot of things at you. As an offense, you kind of have to be on your toes and be ready to adjust when you come to the line."