NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans are trying to get back to what they do on offense after a stumbling performance to begin the season, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill said that means playing up to their own standards.
Starting better and handling adversity will help as well.
"We kind of got hit in the mouth early, right?" Tannehill said Wednesday, three days after the visiting Arizona Cardinals beat Tennessee 38-13 in the opener for both teams. "And we go out and didn't get the start that we wanted, and we didn't respond well. It took us whatever, four drives before we moved the ball.
"So that's unacceptable. We have to be able to respond quickly."
The Titans gave up the first 17 points and didn't stay on the field as an offense with more than one first down until their fifth possession. Then they managed to score a touchdown after driving 75 yards, but Arizona answered right back with its own drive and led 24-6 at halftime. When the Cardinals' Kyler Murray threw an interception on the first series of the third quarter, the Titans made use of a short field to score a touchdown and pulled within 11, but that was as close as they got as Arizona answered again with a quick drive into the end zone.
"That'll be a challenge for us moving forward, is if things don't go perfectly, if things don't go well early or at some point in the game," said Tannehill, who needs better protection after being sacked six times in the opener. "OK. Go to the sideline, make the adjustments in and come out swinging the next drive."
Tennessee gets a chance to start looking like the team that averaged 30.7 points a game in 2020, which ranked fourth in the NFL, during Sunday's visit to the Seattle Seahawks (1-0). On the to-do list for the Titans are finishing plays, moving faster, being aggressive, running cleaner routes, pushing piles and creating holes for the running game.
Derrick Henry was the NFL's offensive player of the year in 2020, when he ran for 2,027 yards, his second straight season leading the league in rushing. Against the Cardinals, he was held to 58 yards on 17 carries, with his longest run 19 yards.
Taking care of the ball also is an area for improvement after Tennessee committed three turnovers, including two off fumbles when Tannehill was sacked. Three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan struggled enough in his first game back from a torn right ACL that he thanked Chandler Jones — who tied a Cardinals record with five sacks — for exposing his struggles.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said playing the Seahawks is a good opportunity to bounce back while facing adversity. Seattle opened with a 28-16 road victory against the Indianapolis Colts.
"I'm confident that we'll prepare, and Taylor will be part of that group that's going to go out and work and try to focus and understand his matchups, understand the scheme and how we have to play," Vrabel said. "And we all have to play better. We all have to coach better."
The Titans have been able to operate at a fast tempo in recent seasons, but they didn't play like that in the opener.
"No, we did not," said Tennessee receiver A.J. Brown, who was limited by a knee injury at practice Wednesday.
Brown, a Pro Bowl pick last season, would talk Wednesday only about what his position group can do and said cleaning up the details is key. He caught four of eight passes thrown to him for 49 yards and a touchdown.
Chester Rogers had four receptions on six targets for 62 yards. Julio Jones — the former Atlanta Falcons star who was added via trade this summer and was expected to upgrade an already impressive offensive roster — totaled 29 yards while catching three of six passes that came his way.
"We've just got to do a better job getting in and out of the huddle," Brown said, "just playing fast and just moving with more urgency."