A day after watching quarterback Ryan Tannehill struggle with three interceptions, Coach Mike Vrabel said he still doesn’t know what caused him to be so off the mark in the season opener.
But he remains confident that the veteran will bounce back quickly as the Titans try to end an eight-game losing streak that dates back to the final seven weeks of last season.
Tannehill was just 16 of 34 for 198 yards passing and also overthrew two different targets on potential touchdown passes as the Titans fell, 16-15, to the New Orleans Saints. It led to a 28.8 passer rating, which was a career low for the 12-year veteran.
“Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t. I wish that I knew. I wish that I could tell you,” Vrabel said on Monday. “We have to be better. Ryan (Tannehill) has to be better. We have to hit guys that are open. We can’t force the ball into double coverage. So, we have to give him cleaner pockets, like we gave him in the second half earlier. There was some of that. When the play goes bad, we can point to a lot of different things, but we have to be better. We can’t turn the football over.”
Tannehill also seemed to zero in on his new weapon, DeAndre Hopkins, for a good part of the game. Hopkins, who is used to getting the lion’s share of the passes thrown his way, was targeted 13 times by Tannehill. He had seven receptions for 65 yards.
On the other hand, Treylon Burks, was targeted just three times with two catches for 18 yards and a costly drop. Chig Okonkwo, who was one of the targets overthrown on a flea-flicker, had no catches and just two targets.
Asked if he thought Tannehill was trying to force-feed the ball to Hopkins too much, Vrabel responded, “I think maybe. When you play quarterback, you can’t just sit there. It’s a yes-no. You’re going to go to a side and obviously if the DB’s underneath, we probably don’t want to throw a back shoulder. We can’t throw a back shoulder. I’m OK with the decision. When you’re over here and you’re going to give DeAndre a chance, but you got to give him a better chance.
“But I just think that there’s times where if a guy’s double covered, we certainly need to progress through and to progress through, you have to have pass protection to be able to take an extra hitch or to be able to come back and work the backside.”
The good news for the Titans is that Tannehill is already working toward getting on the same page with his receivers in Tim Kelly’s new offense as the club prepares for Sunday’s game with the Los Angeles Chargers.
“He’s already been in here with the receivers and been in here with the coaches and he’ll respond like he has. He’s been a great competitor for us. He’s been unbelievably tough and determined. I’m positive that those results will be different,” Vrabel said.