NASHVILLE Tenn. – Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt met with reporters for the final time before the team's bye in week. He had plenty to say in regards to how the first half of the season has played out with rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger unsurprisingly dominating much of the conversation.
Here are top five notes from the presser.
5. Bye Week Schedule
The Titans will practice Tuesday and Wednesday before having four days off until Monday. Next Tuesday will be the team's scheduled day off.
The two practices this week will be scripted towards improving in the red zone and on third down. The team initially had the opportunity to earn an entire week off but, would needed to have won the last two games to earn the perk.
4. No Major Injuries Against the Texans
"We actually came out of yesterday's game in pretty good shape," Whisenhunt said to begin his press conference. "Nate [Washington] has a shoulder sprain. I don't anticipate he'll practice this week but he should be ok next week. We should get Taylor Thompson and Coty Sensabaugh back at practice tomorrow. I'm sure there will be a couple of guys that we hold out from a standpoint of trying to get them healthier going back in [to the second half of the season]."
Sammie Hill was the player Whisenhunt noted would likely be held out of practice with a few bumps and bruises. He said that he anticipates most players will want to practice these next two days.
3. Mettenberger's Debut Has Ups and Downs
Rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger finished his first career start with a solid stat line – 299 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Whisenhunt said the numbers are an indication of his growth throughout the game.
"As far as an assessment of him [Mettenberger] from the game, I would say he was probably a little over-amped in the first half and I think he settled down and played much better in the second half," said Whisenhunt of his rookie quarterback.
Whisenhunt noted Mettenberger's deep passes to Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright in the first half that were overthrown, but how the rookie QB responded in the second half to complete a 48-yard pass to Wright and a 43-yard pass to Nate Washington.
"One of the things I really liked about Zach was this was a good defensive front and they've been able to generate some pressure," he continued on Mettenberger. "He stood in there and didn't seem bothered by it and made some good throws."
I'll say off the bat that Jim Wyatt came up with "selfie-gate," but it seemed too good to not use.
After J.J. Watt sacked Mettenberger on Sunday, he imitated the rookie quarterback taking a photo of himself – and in his postgame remarks made strong comments regarding Mettenberger's use of social media.
"It was one of those things where their quarterback had posted a few 'selfies' this week, including one before the game," said Watt. "It is kind of a reminder that this is the National Football League, not high school. Welcome to the show.
"I take my job very seriously," Watt continued. "If I was a rookie quarterback being named the starter for the first time in the league, I feel like I would be a little more focused than that. Maybe he will learn from it, maybe not. We won the game, so that is all that matters."
When asked about the selfies on Monday, Whisenhunt first explained his naivety with social media before backing up Mettenberger's work ethic this season.
"He's one of the first guys in the building in the morning and one of the last ones to leave," said Whisenhunt. "That's been the case even before he became the starting quarterback. That started back in camp. From that standpoint, the effort is there, the work is there and that's what you like to see."
Mettenberger did cut his shaggy hair and cleaned up his beard before his first NFL start, a choice that wasn't necessarily left up to the quarterback.
"I wouldn't say that was a decision he made on his own," Whisenhunt said implying he asked Mettenberger to visit the barbershop. "Because of exactly what that position entails I think it's important you're viewed the right way when you're a quarterback. Once you've won a lot of games and had success I think you can do whatever you want. I think it's important to start off on the right foot."
Whisenhunt went on to say that Mettenberger had no issues with the request to get a haircut and also that he understands why he would have wanted to keep his long hair.
"For a number of years I made sure my son had his hair cut and was clean shaven and the moment he got out on his own he wanted to do was grow a beard and let his hair grow long," Whisenhunt said playing devil's advocate. "I think you also have to understand what you're representing and for a lack of a better term, your brand."
1. Progress Through Eight Weeks
Before going up in arms reading the word progress, let's first begin with Whisenhunt's disclaimer. It's important to hear that he understands the frustrations that fans have this season.
"Listen, I completely understand from our fans' perspective and from your [the media's] perspective, that standing up here with our record the way it is and with some of the mistakes we've made in games that it's hard to believe that. I've been in this situation before, I've been down this road and I've seen it turn. I fully believe that's going to happen for us."
Now to the progress – Whisenhunt explained there are a number of young players who he has been very pleased with in terms of their development.
"I believe that our players are working hard and buying in to what we're doing," he said. "We have to get over the hump in terms of making plays in games and not making these mistakes. You see it in some of our guys. I see it in a player like Blidi Wreh-Wilson, who has made significant progress over the last couple weeks playing that position after being out with a concussion and giving up some plays earlier in the season.
"With all the shortcomings that we have as a football team, you're seeing a lot of positives, but they're getting lost because of the way our record is," he continued. "Avery Williamson is doing a nice job and making some plays for us. Taylor Lewan has played two games very well from the left tackle position. Bishop [Sankey] is a young running back and doing a nice job even though you're not seeing the production to go along with that."