Skid at 5 straight and 15 of 16, Titans desperate for win

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Frustration is building for the Tennessee Titans, and tight end Delanie Walker says it's starting to feel like this franchise is stuck in a circle.

Losing five straight games and 15 of the last 16 has that effect.

''It keeps happening, and over and over,'' Walker said Monday. ''Y'all ask the same questions over and over and it's like, `What do you want me to say?' The fans every time I answer a question from you, the fans say, `Duh, we know that!' What do you want me to say? Basically, we got to turn it around.''

The Titans now are 1-5 after losing their first game without rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota 10-7 to the Atlanta Falcons. The Titans held the NFL's third-best scoring offense to a season-low in points, forced Atlanta to turn it over twice on fourth down and intercepted two passes - and still came up short.

Statistically, it seems the Titans should be winning. They currently rank fourth in the NFL in yards allowed and 16th in points allowed per game. But numbers aren't translating into victories with a trip to Houston (2-5) up next.

''For us, we just got to win a game,'' cornerback Jason McCourty said. ''That's the most important thing.''

Tennessee has been very close with three of the past four losses by a combined six points, and the common refrain from the Titans has been just how close they are to that elusive victory.

''It's time for us to quit talking about it and get a win,'' coach Ken Whisenhunt said Monday.

Tennessee has regressed offensively, scoring fewer points in each of the past three losses. They rank 28th in yards per game, and only St. Louis and San Francisco score fewer points than Tennessee's 19.8 points per game.

Whisenhunt said he hasn't thought of having someone else on his coaching staff call plays, and he defended his play-calling.

''If sharing the play-calling responsibilities or doing that will help us win a football game, I have no issues doing that,'' Whisenhunt said. ''When you have a play that's wide open and gets dropped, is that a bad play call? You always focus on a play or two that doesn't work. But there's a lot of plays that do work, and nobody says that's a good call.

''That's the way it goes.''

Only three coaches have had worse starts in their first 22 NFL games all-time than Whisenhunt who now is 3-19 since taking over Tennessee, according to STATS. John McKay was 0-22 with the inaugural Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976-1977, Harvey Johnson was 1-20-1 with Buffalo between 1968-1971 and Phil Handler was 2-20 with Chicago between 1943 and 1949.

The Titans coach is tied with five other coaches, including Rich Kotite who started 3-19 with the 1995-96 New York Jets.

Whisenhunt already has the worst home record since 1970 among coaches with a minimum of 10 home games coached at 1-11 (.083 percent) according to STATS, though Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith is 1-10 (.091).

The Titans will check Mariota out on the field Tuesday to see if the rookie can practice Wednesday or if the sprained MCL in his left knee will keep him out Sunday. They also were missing three other starters against Atlanta and lost two more to injuries during the game.

Snapping this skid won't be easy with the Titans now playing three of four on the road in November. Six of the final 10 games will be away from Nashville, though luckily five are in the woeful AFC South starting with the Houston Texans. Safety Michael Griffin says the Titans are blessed to only be 1 1/2 games behind first-place Indianapolis (3-4) in this division.

''We just let one slip right by us again, but we're moving in the right direction,'' Griffin said.

---

Online:

AP NFL websites: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

---

Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.