NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans know their undefeated start won’t last for long if they don’t fix some issues quickly.
“That’s the message that we have to relay to the players is that we’re happy to be 2-0, and we’re lucky in a lot of ways,” coach Mike Vrabel said Monday. “But there’s been a lot of good stuff, stuff we got to clean up and continue to eliminate stuff that could potentially get us beat.”
The Titans are off to their first 2-0 start since 2008 and only their third since 1999, the franchise’s lone Super Bowl season. Both wins have been by a combined five points, the latest a 33-30 win over Jacksonville on Sunday.
They gave up 480 yards and allowed the Jaguars to convert 10 of 14 third downs while holding the ball for more than 33 minutes. Tennessee is allowing 401.5 yards per game, 136 yards rushing and 265.5 yards passing per game.
Safety Kevin Byard wasn’t pleased seeing too many missed tackles, including his own. The Jaguars averaged 6.1 yards per rush, and undrafted rookie James Robinson ran for 102 yards and a touchdown. The Titans allowed 339 yards passing and gave up four plays of 20 yards or longer.
The Titans visit Minnesota (0-2) on Sunday, and Byard said being 2-0 feels like a gut check.
“We are definitely on high alert because we have a lot of things to fix,” Byard said. “So like I said, next week we are looking ourselves in the mirror, understand we aren’t playing up to our standards we set for ourselves.”
The Titans are even better inside the red zone than they were last season when they led the NFL scoring on 75.6% of their trips inside an opponent’s 20. They have scored TDs on six of seven drives into the red zone, an 85.8% rate.
Tannehill is the reason for the high success rate. He was a perfect 4 of 4 for 44 yards with four TDs inside the red zone against the Jaguars, and he connected with three different players for TDs.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The pass rush. The Titans got their first two sacks of the season against the Jaguars, and one came from safety Kenny Vaccaro. Beasley, who didn’t pass his physical until Sept. 5, has yet to be active for the Titans, and Derick Roberson also is recovering from a knee injury.
Stephen Gostkowski. He had people wanting him cut before the Titans’ home opener following what he called an embarrassing performance in the season opener. He hit a couple uprights in warmups, made a 51-yard field goal as the first half expired, then clanked an extra point off the left upright in the third quarter.
He also made a 49-yarder with 1:36 left for his second winning kick in six days. Gostkowski became the first kicker in the NFL since Adam Vinatieri in 1999 to have the winning field goal in the final two minutes of regulation in each of his team’s first two games to open a season. Coincidentally, he replaced Vinatieri as New England’s kicker in 2006.
Jadeveon Clowney. The injuries at outside linebacker have forced the Titans to play him a lot through his first two weeks. Clowney played 62 of 75 snaps against the Jaguars with two tackles and two quarterback hits. One came on Gardner Minshew, forcing an incompletion and a Jaguars punt with 3:35 left.
CB Johnathan Joseph was limited to 39 snaps after hurting a leg.
3 — The number of turnovers forced by the Titans through two games. They are also one of only three teams in the NFL having played two games yet to turn the ball over, and an interception by Harold Landry III sealed the latest win.
The Titans hit the road for Minnesota, their last road game until November. After the Vikings, they return home for three straight games in October against Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Houston. Fans will be back, though limited to 10% and increasing to 15% by the Texans’ visit.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL