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VOL. 37 | NO. 38 | Friday, September 20, 2013

Titans confident ‘bad vibe’ of last season has faded

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As the Tennessee Titans enter their home opener this week against the San Diego Chargers, they do so in bittersweet fashion.

When the schedule first came out back in April, most fans and prognosticators looked at the opening two games in Pittsburgh and Houston and said that if the Titans came out of that road double with a 1-1 record, that they should be pleased.

But after squandering an eight-point lead in the final five minutes and losing in overtime Sunday at Houston, they can only look at what might have been.

The chance to go 2-0 for the first time since 2008 (the last time the Titans made the playoffs) and to take control of the AFC South early was within their grasp.

But they couldn’t hold it.

So now, the task at hand for Mike Munchak and his players is to regroup and refocus to make the best of a three-game homestand that begins Sunday with the San Diego Chargers and continues with the New York Jets and the much-improved Kansas City Chiefs.

All winnable games for the Titans, but all that could just as easily fall into the loss column.

The best thing that can be said about the 2013 Titans after two weeks is they don’t resemble the 2012 edition.

General Manager Ruston Webster’s $100 million off-season spending spree seems to be working in that the Titans are much improved on defense, and at least seem to have the occasional capability to make a play on offense. Jake Locker’s errant overthrow of Kenny Britt on Sunday notwithstanding.

Some players who are holdovers from a year ago realize the difference, both in talent and attitude.

“Of course, man. It sucks (to lose),” defensive end Derrick Morgan says. “We should be 2-0, but it’s two games. We’ve got a long season. I know guys’ mindset was in the right place.

“It was a long year last year, and it had a bad vibe. It just felt like a bad vibe all the way around. But this year we don’t have that, because guys know what we’re capable of doing. There’s optimism going forward.”

Their early success seems to be a part of that. Last year, the Titans lost six times by at least 21 points, including demoralizing 40-point massacres at the hands of Chicago and Green Bay.

There are still plenty of formidable foes on a schedule that includes trips to Denver and Seattle and a visit later on from the 49ers.

But the Titans do seem to have a belief in themselves that was missing a year ago.

“We know the culture has changed here. We’re a better team, a different team. A lot of people would say we should be happy at being 1-1, but we should be 2-0,” receiver Damian Williams says.

Perhaps safety Michael Griffin put it best, noting the thin ice that everyone in the organization is on after last year’s 6-10 finish.

“We have different people and a different mindset, and our backs are all against the wall. It starts from the top,” Griffin says. “The coaches are all here on one-year deals and it goes all the way to the bottom.

“No one is safe, and Bud Adams wants us to win. That’s something we haven’t done the last couple of seasons. But right now, we have the guys and we’re just putting pieces together.”

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com and is a blogger for National Football Post.