NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Three games down, and 13 to go.
If the Titans perform well, more games would follow.
As the Titans head into a long bye weekend, across the board players vowed to come back with a vengeance on Monday. A grueling stretch awaits them, beginning with an October 11 contest against the Bills.
"It's a 13-game stretch now. After this bye, it's 13 strong and we have to be ready for it because it is going to be a grind,'' linebacker Brian Orakpo said. "Right now, the easy part is over. Now this 13 strong is going to be tough for anybody who has a bye this early."
The Titans (1-2) have lost two straight after a season-opening victory at Tampa Bay. The most recent defeat – a 35-33 loss to the Colts -- still lingers in the minds of many.
For now, it outweighs the positive feelings generated by much improved play compared to a year ago. Even though the Titans look like a better team compared to a year ago, that doesn't cut it, said safety Michael Griffin.
"It's encouraging, but at the same time you have to realize a loss is a loss, there's nothing that says 'you almost won.' There's no statistic that says that,'' Griffin said. "One thing we are doing well is we are fighting, but we have to finish. We have to finish the games and that is where we are hurting ourselves. We win and lose as a team and we have to fight together to win as a team.
"We have to put the first three games behind us. We have 13 games ahead of us. The young guys have to realize we now have 13 games ahead of us, and there's not going to be an opportunity to heal up down the stretch, you have to play through some ups and downs."
The Titans have reasons to be optimistic moving forward.
Rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota has been very impressive out of the gate, with eight touchdowns vs. only two interceptions in his first three starts. The offense has been effective while proving it can put up points.
While the Titans have given up some big plays on defense, the unit has shown spunk as well, and the team is set to get cornerback Jason McCourty back against the Bills.
After three weeks, there's a logjam in the AFC South – the Titans, Colts, Texans and Jaguars are all 1-2, so the division remains there for the taking.
"It's all positive here,'' tackle Taylor Lewan said. "One and two isn't the best record to have obviously, but we are going to keep fighting and keep going and eventually it is going to work out for us all."
The Titans practiced on Tuesday and Wednesday. Injured players will remain in town for rehab, while others indicated they planned to remain in town to study up in the Bills. While the bye week came too early for many Titans – most players prefer to have bye weeks closer to the halfway point of the season – it will allow others to get healthy.
In addition to McCourty, guard Chance Warmack (knee) could return vs the Bills, and defensive lineman Sammie Hill (knee) is also working his way back closer to the playing field.
When the Titans return on Monday, players know they must have a sense of urgency. The Titans have three straight home games on the horizon. After the Bills, the Dolphins and Falcons visit Nissan Stadium.
"It is a bunch of mixed emotions right now,'' linebacker Derrick Morgan said. "We set the bar very high against Tampa Bay, and we've let some games slip. After three games we are not in the worst spot in the world, but we are not in the best either. We put ourselves in a situation where we have to come out against Buffalo and start and finish games the right way.
"We are going to find out soon what we are really made of."