NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans are approaching their 0-2 start to the season with collective blame for the losses and shared responsibility for making improvements.
Titans coach Mike Munchak said he anticipates each player will handle the disappointment of the team not playing to its full potential in consecutive games differently. The second-year coach said Titans players returned to work Monday with a quiet focus on making improvements.
"I don't think there's any one way for guys to deal with it," Munchak said. "I think the bottom line, what you want, is when they come in here (on Monday), I could hear a pin drop when I walked in this meeting room at one o'clock. They realize the seriousness of it. This is their profession. This is important to them, so when we're in this building and we're about to watch tape, you've got their full attention. They don't feel good about it. They get embarrassed by not playing their best, by not playing well."
The Titans, who lost at the Chargers 38-10 the day before, return to LP Field Sunday to host the Detroit Lions (1-1). Tennessee opened the season with a 34-13 loss to defending AFC Champion New England, then had the long road trip to San Diego, where the franchise hasn't won a game since 1990, when Munchak was a player for the Houston Oilers.
Instead of chalking it up to two tough draws out of the gate, Munchak said it will be important for players to learn from the mistakes, make a commitment to prevent them from happening again, and most important, figure out ways to execute better during games. He also said he thinks the coaching staff can do better.
"Are we going to come back on Wednesday feeling sorry for ourselves, or are we going to come back Wednesday working harder than we possibly have the last two weeks and get better at the details and the technique, and then on Sunday, find a way to win?," Munchak said.
Tight end Jared Cook described a "kind of gloomy" mood that was universally accompanied by an attentive attitude among players who wanted to improve. Cook said there is plenty of blame to share, but players and coaches didn't play a blame game.
"I don't think it's somebody. I think it's just the whole team," Cook said. "I think, collectively, everybody has to get on the same page and start making things happen offensively. You can't be a successful team by having one guy doing his job here, one guy doing his job here and a couple of guys not doing their job.
"I think everybody has to work collectively," Cook continued. "That's the purpose of a team sport, and we've just got to put our heads together, dig down, and make this the best that we can. We've still got a lot of games to play."
Munchak said the Titans' defense must get off the field by winning third-down plays, and its offense must stay on the field by converting those plays.
San Diego converted 10 of 17 third downs, while Tennessee converted one of nine third downs it faced. The Titans' conversion Sunday came on a 20-yard scramble by Jake Locker in his second career start. Locker finished 15-of-30 passing for 174 yards and threw an interception on his first pass attempt that helped San Diego build an early 14-0 lead.
The Titans ran 40 offensive plays, compared to 75 offensive plays — including 39 rush attempts — run by the Chargers.
Tennessee went through two separate two-game losing streaks in 2011 but persevered and finished 9-7, narrowly missing the playoffs by a tiebreaker that Cincinnati claimed. The Titans lost at Pittsburgh, then at home against Houston in October and lost at home to New Orleans and at Indianapolis in December before winning their final two games.
Cook said the Titans' current situation calls for similar gumption.
"It's just a fact of being resilient and fighting through our woes right now," Cook said.
NOTES: Munchak said RB Javon Ringer is expected to return to practice this week after missing the first two games with an infection in his elbow. T Mike Otto and DT Sen'Derrick Marks are also likely to be back. The Titans, however, are in wait-and-see mode on LB Colin McCarthy's status. McCarthy suffered a sprained ankle in the season-opener.