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NASHVILLE – Had he been tried by a social media jury at any point over the past three weeks, Todd Downing almost certainly would have been found guilty of crimes against the Tennessee Titans’ offense.

One can only imagine the sentence that would have been delivered.

The Titans’ second-year play-caller has been the biggest target of frustration – by far – for fans wondering why the team has sputtered on that side of the ball, ranked 26th overall through three games.

All that frothing-at-the-mouth criticism, however, is the least of Downing’s worries as the Titans ready to play Indianapolis on Sunday.

“I will tell you bluntly, I can’t pay attention to all the stuff that’s going on out there and all the opinions about me,” Downing said Thursday. “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, and I respect the fact people have jobs to do, and people to find to place blame on. I know I’m responsible for the offense. I know there are certain things that come with this role – responsibilities, critiques and kind of constant evaluation that comes with this role.

“But I can’t afford to let somebody else’s opinion cloud what (coach Mike Vrabel) thinks of the job I’m doing, or (general manager) Jon Robinson thinks of the job I’m doing, or frankly, what the players in the locker room think of the job I’m doing.”

That’s not to say Downing hasn’t taken a critical look in the mirror regarding his unit, which ranks 23rd in passing yardage, 21st in rushing yardage and 22nd in average points (17.0) per game.

The departure of Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Brown has to be considered as does the recent injury loss of starting left tackle Taylor Lewan. But the Titans’ offense slipped last season as well, averaging 24.6 points per game in Downing’s first season as offensive coordinator – down from 30.7 points per game in 2020 under Arthur Smith.

One of the most glaring issues has been the second-half struggles, as the Titans have mustered all of seven points in the second halves of their first three games. 

Tennessee's lone second-half touchdown came in the third quarter of Week 1, meaning the offense has been blanked for the last seven periods of second halves.

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Downing said Thursday he’d like to do a better job looking ahead during second-half drives.

“Certainly from my perspective, and things I can improve on, it’s just an intentionality with the drive review on the sidelines and setting up what we’re going to be getting to on the next drive,” Downing said. “Or maybe the next third down, so we can kind of predict some of those futures, if you will.”

The ability to make adjustments in drives and plays, of course, is dependent on the Titans’ controlling the ball to some extent.

That didn’t happen in the second half against the Raiders, when the Titans ran just 23 offensive plays, a total that included back-to-back kneel-downs at the end. After piling up 24 points, 19 first downs and 275 yards in the first half, they managed just three first downs and 86 yards in the second half. Tennessee converted only two-of-six third-down attempts.

“If you don’t pick up first downs, you‘re not able to come back with the counterpunch,” Downing said. “I think in the first half, we were able to set up some things, and then come back off play passes or screens off those looks. But that gets difficult to do when you’re not sustaining drives. I‘ve certainly got to do a better job at making sure we’re able to get into those counterpunches if you will.”

Downing doesn’t believe the Titans are far from putting together a successful 30 minutes following halftime.

Had wide receiver Treylon Burks held on to Ryan Tannehill’s fourth-and-4 pass on the first drive of the fourth quarter, for example, the Titans would have extended one drive. Had tight end Austin Hooper kept forward momentum enough to gain nine yards – instead of eight – on a third-and-9 play one possession later, another drive would have been extended.

Downing is more than ready to see the second-half struggles come to an end in Indianapolis.

“I would love that,” Downing said. “For my blood pressure and my stress level, I would love to be able to do that.”

In the meantime, he’ll maintain his composure, content with the knowledge he’s doing everything in his power to make a difference – no matter the level of social-media outrage.

“I work my tail off, and I do it for a bigger audience than trying to get the praise of man,” Downing said. “I don’t really do this job to be celebrated in the media. I do this job so that I can be the man I’m called to be in the role that I have, and hopefully I can continue to improve in that on every turn and get this offense where we want it to be.”