NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Matt Hasselbeck planned to take a deep breath, enjoy family time and watch every important NFL play on television during the down time that players receive during a bye week.
Hasselbeck and the Titans (3-2) exceeded critics' expectations in the first four games of the season, but suffered their worst loss of the year, 38-17 at Pittsburgh, last Sunday before beginning their bye week.
Often times, players and coaches say they'd rather have a bye later in the season. This year, however, with new coaches, veteran off-season signees like Hasselbeck, and ample rookies, Tennessee is pleased with the timing of the down time.
"You heal up and be thankful for the bye," Hasselbeck said. "Enjoy the DirecTV Sunday Ticket — that's the greatest invention in the world, in my mind. I'm looking forward to watching other quarterbacks get hit on Sunday."
Hasselbeck has completed 117 of 181 passes (64.6 percent) for 1,414 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions in his first five games as the Titans' quarterback. The 13-year pro signed shortly after the lockout, ending his 10-year run in Seattle, relocated quickly and plunged into practices and the playbook.
The Titans lost the season-opener at Jacksonville 16-14 and then rallied for a pair of home wins against Baltimore and Denver and a road victory at Cleveland. Tennessee hosts AFC South rivals Houston (3-2) on Oct. 23 and Indianapolis on Oct. 30 and AFC North foe Cincinnati (3-2) on Nov. 6.
Titans coach Mike Munchak said the timing will allow the Titans to evaluate and prepare for the critical stretch of home games.
"It's a spot where we can kind of gather what we have been doing and get a break," Munchak said. "It really has been nine games and a lot going on with training camp and getting to do a lot of things in a short period of time to get ready for preseason and the regular season. It probably is good to get a break right here knowing that we come back and have three games at home."
While Hasselbeck planned to watch other NFL teams, Munchak said the Titans' coaches would study their own team from the first five games.
"We haven't had film to study of our system," Munchak said. "When the players came in here, the offense and defense were totally new systems, so now we have something we can look at and the players have something they can look at. We did some of that (Tuesday) with the players because when you have a chance to sit back and not worry about a game that you have to play, you can just worry about concepts and see if there is any pattern at why we are not succeeding at a certain deal. That's what you kind of do in the run game, with pass concepts and with coverage."
Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray said he wouldn't even turn on another game if he were in the players' shoes because he would want to come back with a refined focus.
"One thing you want the guys to do is take a good break, really get away, don't think about the Titans," Gray said. "I wouldn't even put on an NFL football game. When you come back, it's fresh for you. You're rejuvenated. When you come back, have some energy about yourself."
Linebacker Will Witherspoon said players received the message that they were free to take some time and catch up with family and friends, as long as they return to practice Monday "ready to work."
"We know where we stand...I think we're in a good spot," Witherspoon said. "We still have a lot of work to do. We have a long season ahead of us when we get back, and we've got to hit the grind when we get back."