|Despite a disappointing 0-2 start, the Titans don't have any plans to bench Jake Locker for Sunday's game vs. the Lions. (Getty Images)|
Following a 38-10 loss to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, the Tennessee Titans’ long plane flight back to Nashville was predictably quiet.
Hours later, when the players reconvened at the team’s practice facility, the mood was just as subdued. When coach Mike Munchak walked into a team meeting room about 1 p.m. on Monday, his players were so attentive and focused that he said he could hear a pin drop.
“They realize the seriousness of it. This is their profession. It’s important to them,” Munchak said. “They don’t feel good about it. They get embarrassed by not playing their best. They put their work out there. Everyone gets to see how they’re playing. Everyone sees the highlights all week. They are part of a team that’s 0-2. They are not very happy with that.”
After two weeks, the Titans have a minus-49 point differential -- the highest of any team in the league. The Titans rank last in rushing offense with an average of just 29 yards per game. Munchak’s team is also last in points per game (11.5), time of possession (22:40) and first downs allowed (26.0) per contest. On defense, the Titans are 30th against the run (155 yards per game).
“What you put on tape is what you see,” tight end Jared Cook said. “The eye in the sky don’t lie.”
Munchak credited several of his captains, including offensive guard Steve Hutchinson and cornerback Jason McCourty, with helping keep the team together. He also lauded Cook for taking an increased leadership role.
“We’re positive going from here,” Cook said. “We know we’re a better team.”
In two games as a starter, quarterback Jake Locker has two touchdowns, two interceptions and has completed 61.3 percent of his attempts. When Munchak named Locker the starting quarterback over Matt Hasselbeck in training camp, he said Locker would remain the starter barring injury. Munchak reiterated Monday that the position is Locker's.
“Would [our record] be different if Matt was in there? There is no way I can answer that,” Munchak said. “Everyone could assume it would be different; I just don’t know what extent it would be different.”
Munchak was also asked during his Monday press conference if he’d consider making changes at running back and on the offensive line. Chris Johnson followed up a career-low 4-yard rushing game in the opener with just eight carries for 17 yards against the Chargers.
“We have to get a spark at some point,” Munchak said. “We have to get something going. He’s a guy we expect to do that.”
Munchak indicated that neither Johnson, nor any starting offensive linemen, would be replaced immediately.
“It’s not all on CJ, so we’re not going to bench our running back,” Munchak said. “Where we’re at right now on offense we’d have to bench a lot of people if I was going to bench them on how we were playing.”
More physical coverage: After several questionable calls Sunday around the league, replacement referees have received criticism for their hesitancy to call pass interference penalties after the 5-yard rule expires. Munchak indicated that his defensive backs shouldn’t respond by skirting the rules.
McCourty failed to jam Chargers wide receiver Malcom Floyd at the line on a 27-yard catch in the first quarter. Moments later, on the game's opening touchdown, safety Jordan Babineaux gave Chargers tight end Dante Rosario a free release on an 11-yard crossing route in the end zone. Floyd also made a 22-yard catch in the third quarter when cornerback Alterraun Verner played off him in zone coverage.
“You don’t want to start learning bad techniques because you’re getting away with stuff,” Munchak said. “I think within the game you have to realize what’s being called and not being called just like offensive linemen do. They don’t intentionally hold someone, but if they let things go on, they may try to do it a little more.”
Injury update: Munchak expects wide receiver Nate Washington (leg) to practice Wednesday, along with defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks (knee), offensive tackle Michael Otto and running back Javon Ringer (elbow).
Munchak did not provide a timetable regarding when middle linebacker Colin McCarthy (ankle) could return. McCarthy, Marks, Otto and Ringer were all out during Sunday’s loss. Washington had two catches for 20 yards after missing all of practice last week.
Wide receiver Kenny Britt had one catch for five yards in his first game back since tearing two ligaments in his knee last September. Britt was expected to receive 15 to 25 snaps against the Chargers and appeared in 19 plays, according to NFLGSIS.com.
“I’m sure he’s sore,” Munchak said. “Now it’s just a matter of him having a good week of practice so he can start running more routes and do the things he couldn’t do this weekend.”
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the Tennessee Titans, follow Matt Rybaltowski @CBSTitans.