The frustrations are evident for the Tennessee Titans in the wake of Sunday's 51-20 fiasco against the Chicago Bears.
There are many now wondering if changes might be in offing on Coach Mike Munchak's staff or in the personnel.
To his credit, Munchak took the question head on, rather than throwing players or coordinators Chris Palmer and Jerry Gray under the bus.
“I think that's decided at the end of the year,” Munchak said. “If a team underperforms, I'm the first guy you should look at for that, not anybody else, not assistant coaches. It starts with me. If we don't finish this season the way it should, then what needs to happen will happen.
"Sure, it starts with me. I'm the head coach. Again, we're getting ahead of ourselves here. We've got seven games to play. If we win all seven, all of a sudden, this would be a wasted argument. I think those are the decisions that are made when the season is over, as far as what this means to anybody.”
While Munchak was taking the wait-and-see approach, many players were obviously frustrated and angry over the way Sunday, and the season in general, has gone for the 3-6 Titans.
Titans safety Jordan Babineaux, in particular, was agitated after Sunday's debacle. And he directed all questions about the defensive effort to Gray.
“If you have any questions, you need to ask the defensive coordinator,” Babineaux said.
When asked what was wrong, he again replied, “Ask the d-coordinator.”
Babineaux was then asked about the breakdowns on special teams and replied, “Ask the special teams coach.”
Other Titans expressed embarrassment and disbelief that Sunday's performance could have been so bad.
“I'm 100 percent embarrassed. I'm looking at the score, and I don't even understand it or how this is even possible,” said cornerback Alterraun Verner. “Scores like this only happen in Madden when you're playing somebody really, really bad. I'm totally embarrassed.”
Tight end Jared Cook, who has had his issues over playing time and wanting a long-term deal, added, “The experience was like, 'What are we doing?' I felt like we were in a dream, kind of like, 'This can't be happening' type deal. … We should have been ready to play, but obviously we weren't today. It was obvious.”
What is also becoming obvious is that the Titans absolutely cannot stay close once they fall behind early in games. In five of six losses, the Titans have lost by at least 21 points, and Tennessee has now given up 308 points through nine games. They gave up only 317 all last season.
Defensive end Kamerion Wimbley, a free agent pickup in the off-season, has seen his share of bad football having played for the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders prior to joining the Titans. He also found it difficult to explain the disappointment.
“This is probably one of the youngest teams I've been on. We've had a lot of injuries this year. For whatever reason, it definitely hasn't gone the way we expected. I definitely expected this to be a better team. I think we have the talent to be a good team, but we just haven't been able to execute for whatever reason,” Wimbley said.
Tillman's big day
The Titans knew to beware of the Bears defense and its propensity for forcing turnovers. Yet, the message apparently didn't sink in. The Bears forced five turnovers, plus blocked a punt for a touchdown in Sunday's rout.
“They were preaching all week – turnovers, and one guy caused four of them. You can't win against a good team like that. He's just good at punching it out. We just didn't protect the ball like we were coached to all week,” said Jared Cook, who had one of the Titans four lost fumbles, courtesy of Tillman.
Chris Johnson fumbled twice, and Kenny Britt fumbled on Tennessee's very first play from scrimmage – all from Tillman.
“He just finds a way of getting his hands on the ball and knocking the ball out and always being around the ball,” Johnson said.
Formation faux pas
Titans fans have been waiting for the past two or three years for the team to learn how to cover a tight end.
On Sunday, the Titans covered the tight end two plays in a row. The problem was, it was their own tight end and it led to back-to-back illegal formation penalties, which only added to the embarrassment of Sunday's loss.
“It's embarrassing,” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. “We had those plays in our hands days ago and had a meeting about it last night and a meeting about it this morning. I don't know what to say. That's not good.”
Rookie Kendall Wright suffered an elbow injury, but appeared to be OK in the locker room after the game.
Two other Titans backups suffered injuries in the game. Safety Al Afalava suffered a sprained ankle, and linebacker Xavier Adibi suffered a sprained knee.
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