Officially, the struggles of the Tennessee Titans offense are not a concern.
Truthfully, Titans players hope to put their struggles to rest Saturday night when they visit the Cleveland Browns.
Other than a decent showing against the Buffalo Bills in the Hall of Fame Game in the opener, Tennessee’s first-team offense has had its share of issues this preseason.
Kerry Collins was victimized by a pair of interceptions against Tampa Bay, while the running game with Chris Johnson and LenDale White has been unable to get going thus far through three games, with Johnson at 1.8 yards per carry and White at two yards an attempt.
Last week at Dallas, the first-team offense went three and out on every drive until finally putting together a touchdown drive just before halftime on Collins’ 17-yard touchdown pass to Justin Gage.
So, what was supposed to be a much-improved offense, hopes to start showing that against the Browns on Saturday.
“I think it is important. We started off a little slow last week, and I think we all agree we’d like to get off to a better start than we did,” Collins said. “Having said that, we got it going a little last week, but it would be nice to do it a little bit earlier on.”
Add to the equation that this week is the week Titans starters will likely play longer in the game, perhaps into the second half, and a good showing becomes all the more necessary.
“I don’t know how much I’m going to play against Green Bay, so this will probably be my last significant work before we go into the season,” Collins said. “I’d definitely like to execute well and make good reads, good decisions and take advantage of some significant time.”
If the Titans hold true to form from preseasons past, most of the starters will play only a minimal amount next week against Green Bay, so as not to risk injury and to allow coaches to get a final and longer look at backups who are competing for the final few roster spots.
The main excuse that coaches have offered through preseason is that game-planning has been at a minimum thus far in preseason. But one thing is definitely a point of emphasis this week, after last week’s struggles in Dallas.
“We want to go out there and move the ball up and down the field, convert third downs and stay on the field a little bit and help the defense rest,” tight end Bo Scaife said.
Guard Jake Scott agreed, adding, “It’s a priority to do things well every week. We didn’t do things so well last week, so we need to go out and get some first downs and move the ball up and down the field a little bit and feel like we’ve made some improvements over last week.”
Johnson said the Titans need to make a statement early that the offensive execution is OK.
“We’re trying to come out there from the first play and get into a good rhythm and get a drive going,” Johnson said. “I think there were a couple of things with the offense not looking as good as we’re capable of looking, and the main thing is keeping the drives going.
“It’s frustrating but there’s reasons why things are happening. We’re not really game planning. But we’re not panicking and we’re not frustrated. We know we’re going to be all right.”