MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - Are the Tennessee Titans living too much by the sack and the turnover this season?
Certainly the opportunistic formula helped carry the New Orleans Saints to a Super Bowl championship last year.
But the Saints also had one of the most explosive, strike-from-anywhere offenses in the league a year ago.
And Sunday's 29-17 loss to the Dolphins showed that just because Tennessee entered this week with the highest scoring offense in the NFL and had just added Randy Moss to the fold, they still have to get a better performance overall from their defense on a consistent basis.
The two situations actually go hand-in-hand, as the Titans offense was guilty not getting even one first down on six difference possessions on Sunday. Twice, they handed the Dolphins the football deep in their own territory as well with two lost fumbles, leading to 10 points.
Whether that put undue pressure on the defense to the point that it finally broke is certainly debatable.
But no matter the situation, the same formula held true again for Tennessee's defense on Sunday. They played too many snaps – 68 which is right at their average for the season.
They also were obliterated again in the time of possession battle, allowing Miami to control the ball for 33:04 in the game. And third downs, one of their bye week areas of focus, continue to be a bugaboo, as the Dolphins dominated, converting 9 of 17 third-down tries in the game.
“It's very frustrating not getting off the field. I think one thing is we need to work harder. It may be tiring out the defense, 60, 70, close to 80 snaps a game,” Griffin said. “That takes a toll on you throughout the season.”
The Titans have 27 sacks this season, but had just one on Sunday. They also have 20 takeaways and are plus-4 still for the season. But on Sunday, they lost the turnover battle in Miami, 3-1.
“It's hard to win when you give them the ball twice inside the 30-yard-line or thereabouts. I think that pretty much sums up our day,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said.
Linebacker Will Witherspoon disagreed that the Titans live too much by the sack and turnover, but did admit that there are problems that have to be fixed on defense.
“I can't say that we live too much by the sack and turnover. I think it comes down to giving teams too much opportunity to get another opportunity to see what works,” Witherspoon said. “If a team gets enough opportunities they're gonna make something happen.”
On Sunday, it was tight end Anthony Fasano, who isn't exactly mistaken for Shannon Sharpe, who victimized the Titans for five catches and 121 yards and the game-clinching score that put the contest away.
Defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil said it is on him and the defense to rectify the situation.
“We just made critical errors at the wrong time, and you just can't do that,” Cecil said. “It all goes back to execution. They need to be better, and I need to be better.”