As the Tennessee Titans head into their bye week, there seemed to be more questions than answers following Sunday’s lackluster 12-9 overtime victory over the winless Cleveland Browns.
Despite their offensive struggles, Titans coach Mike Mularkey clung to the bottom line that the Titans won the game and are 4-3 heading into their week-long break. He was not apologizing for the victory.
“It’s hard to win. It’s very hard, turn on every game in the NFL, especially on the road,” Mularkey said Monday. “I think it’s tough to win and we did. Was it pretty? No. When we had to win it, when it came into overtime, which we have not played a lot of overtime games, this team rallied together in all three phases. Found a way to win the game. That’s good, I see nothing negative to that. I’ve never said, ‘It’s a bad win’ in my life.”
While players were given the whole week off to heal up and get a break from football, the coaching staff remains behind for a few extra days to self-scout both the good and the bad from the first seven games. And despite being tied for the AFC South lead, there are plenty of issues to be ironed out in the off-week.
“We’re doing a study on ourselves, we’ll go back and look at last year for an example. Offensively, why so successful last year and not this year, comparisons of the two?” Mularkey said. “Just like we did in the off-season, obviously it’s sped up because you don’t have a couple of months, but we look at every play and every player on every play and we decide if it’s the scheme, if it’s the defense that we’re going against, is it they had a better call than we had, is it a lot of things go into the play of it, but we look at everybody on the play. That’s what our coaches are doing right now.”
Mularkey said the Titans offensive game plans should be able to expand more after the bye, because quarterback Marcus Mariota’s balky hamstring, which has not allowed him to use his mobility, should be healed up by then.
“I think without the ability to have Marcus do some of the things that he’s capable of doing, which I think is dynamic in this league,” Mularkey said. “I think hopefully if he’s back to full-strength, we can get back to our full game planning and get back to what we’re good at, and that’s multiple things. Hopefully that’s the case, that’s the plan as we sit here.”
The Titans might also finally have first-round pick Corey Davis back in the lineup, as he has missed the past five games with a hamstring issue.
“I think (Davis can make) a big difference, I do. We’ve got one game to go off of, I thought he did some really good things in his one game, with no prior game experience,” Mularkey said. “I thought he did a really good job of not just the six catches that he had but other things that he did for a rookie starting in his first game. I think we should be better if we can get him back.”
Mularkey admitted that the bye probably comes at a good time for a number of reasons.
“There’s no question, have a lot of work to do. Hopefully taking a step back and catching our breath, getting some guys healthy, I mean everybody, not just the guys on the injury report, I think will be good for us to start the second half,” he said.