So many changes. So little difference.
Even with a new head coach, a new coordinator and a new quarterback, the Tennessee Titans offense was plagued by familiar issues in Sunday’s season-opening 16-14 loss to Jacksonville.
Roughly 24 hours later, the talk centered on a lack of rhythm. In particular, inefficiency on first down limited subsequent opportunities for running back Chris Johnson and created third-down situations that were difficult to convert.
“We had a bunch of games last year that happened the same way,” left tackle Michael Roos said Monday afternoon. “It [was] tough to get a rhythm and get things going.”
Prior to Monday night’s games, only the Minnesota Vikings (with 43) had run fewer offensive plays than the Titans (49) during the opening weekend of play. Tennessee’s time of possession (20:22) was last among the 28 teams that had completed their openers, as was the number of rushing attempts (13).
“On offense when you only play  snaps … there is very little room for error and usually the reason you are having  snaps is there is a lot going on in the game,” coach Mike Munchak said. “And with [the Jaguars] having success of moving the ball and controlling the clock we had to really do something early in that game and we didn’t. So that made it hard to get the run game going.”
Johnson was held to fewer than 10 carries (nine, to be exact) for just the third time in his career.
Predictably, the Titans are 0-3 in those games. In fact, they have lost 12 straight in which Johnson has run the ball 17 times or fewer — a streak that dates back to the final game of his rookie season.
“I was hoping that just in this game alone he would get 15 to 18 carries,” Munchak said. “…You are going to want a guy that can make a play at any time to touch it as much as you can.”
Johnson carried it once each for no gain on each of the first two possessions, both of which were three-and-outs. Three other three-and-outs followed and seven of the first nine possessions ended with punts.
Jacksonville, on the other hand, had four drives of more than 10 plays and had 10 points before it punted for the first time.
The Jaguars also converted half of their 18 third-down opportunities whereas the Titans were just 4-for-11 (36.3 percent) on third down.
Tennessee’s third-down success rate last fall was 34.8 percent and its average time of possession (25:54) was last in the NFL.
“They came out at home and we punted the ball right back to them at three-and-out, they had some momentum and they went ahead and made some plays,” Munchak said. “…They had seven third-and-ones in the game. We stopped them on one down by the goal line. Also they fumbled once, but that’s a high number.
“We knew that going in that that’s kind of their deal, and if we don’t score points on offense that’s what they are able to do to teams.”
In other words, it was the same old Jaguars. The same was true of the Titans.
• Safety Chris Hope (shoulder), defensive end William Hayes (shoulder) and wide receiver Damian Williams (hamstring) were injured in Sunday’s game. None was considered serious but all three players underwent MRIs on Monday to determine the exact nature of their ailments.
Of those that did not dress because of injury — defensive end Derrick Morgan (knee), defensive end Jason Jones (knee) and running back Javon Ringer (back) — Ringer is the least likely to return to action this week.