NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans are stuck in their first three-game skid since Mike Vrabel's debut season with the latest loss just plain old “bad football."
Yet they're still atop the AFC South, chasing their third straight division title with four games remaining.
First, they have to fix a lot of mistakes and hopefully start getting some key Titans back.
Vrabel said Monday that nobody did anything good enough consistently enough for the Titans in a 36-22 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“That’s the challenge," Vrabel said. "It’s not looking ahead to how many games we have left. It’s making sure that we eliminate bad football and that we find ways to go out there and play complementary, which we’ve done. Certainly haven’t done it here recently.”
The previous time this franchise lost three consecutive games, two came on the road. This time, the Titans have lost two of these three at home.
The 2018 Titans finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs when an injured Marcus Mariota couldn't start the season finale, leading to the March 2019 trade for Ryan Tannehill.
These Titans (7-6) currently have 15 on injured reserve, including last year's sack leader in Harold Landry Jr., both starting inside linebackers and a three-time Pro Bowl left tackle. They played against Jacksonville with four key defenders out injured.
Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk fired general manager Jon Robinson last week and made clear roster construction was a big part of her decision. That doesn't help the next man up approach the Titans have leaned heavily on over the past two years.
Next up is a Sunday game in Los Angeles against the Chargers (7-6). Vrabel has to figure out how to make who he has available work.
“I don’t think we have any other choice," Vrabel said.
The run game. Derrick Henry had more yards by the end of the first quarter with 96 than he had managed in any of the previous four games.
Henry had a 50-yard run that was more than he had in either of the past two games.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The offense after halftime. They've been outscored 147-70 and managed only eight points against the Jaguars after trailing only 20-14 at halftime. The Titans rank 26th in the NFL, averaging a mere 18.5 points because their offense disappears after halftime, and they're last in averaging 5.4 points in the second half.
They've scored more than eight points only three times this season in the second half, and Tennessee has been completely shut out in four games. The Titans also are last in the league with 46 three-and-outs in the second half. They rank 28th in offensive penalties with 84 after halftime.
Rookie TE Chig Okonkwo. He caught every pass thrown to him with six catches for 45 yards, including one touchdown. That doesn't include the 2-point conversion Okonkwo caught with one hand and pinned against his face mask and helmet in the fourth quarter.
OL Dillon Radunz. With left tackle Dennis Daley beaten regularly and needing help, the 53rd overall pick out of North Dakota State in 2021 should be an option either at left tackle or right tackle where he lost an offseason position battle to rookie Nicholas Petit-Frere. Radunz didn't play against Jacksonville.
Vrabel said RB and special teams player Dontrell Hilliard will not play Sunday after being carted off the field with a neck injury. Vrabel said he saw Hilliard on Monday, and he was doing good. S Amani Hooker went down with a knee issue, but returned to the game after being evaluated for a potential concussion.
Sack leader Denico Autry has missed three games with an injured knee, and Vrabel said he hopes Autry is close to returning. The Titans waived a pair of linebackers later Monday in Ola Adeniyi and Joe Schobert.
80 — An NFL-high number of players used by the Titans this season, after using an league-record 91 players in a non-strike season in 2021.
The Titans used four new players against the Jaguars to push past Arizona (77), Rams (76), Detroit (74) and the Giants (74).
Snap the skid. Winning three of the final four games would keep the regular-season finale in Jacksonville from putting a playoff berth on the line. The Titans host Houston (1-11-1) on Dec. 24 and Dallas (10-3) on Dec. 29 for their only back-to-back home games this season with a chance to clinch a wild-card game in Nashville.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker
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