NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)For the past four seasons, the Tennessee Titans struggled to find a dependable kicker.
They’ve fixed that issue so far thanks to veteran Nick Folk.
Now they have a bigger problem.
Finding the end zone.
“We haven’t scored enough touchdowns, period,” Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill said Wednesday. “You look at getting down in the red zone, kicking field goals and getting behind the sticks, hurting ourselves, putting ourselves in long-yard situations. We got to score more as an offense as a whole.”
Scoring points was such a problem last season the Titans ended 2022 on a seven-game skid, and coach Mike Vrabel switched offensive coordinators. They’ve scored more than 16 points exactly twice this season, winning both games where they put up 27 points.
They head to London for Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens (3-2) ranked 26th in the NFL, averaging just 17.6 points a game – a mere tick ahead of the 17.5 points they averaged for the 2022 season and finished 28th.
The Titans (2-3) have scored a grand total of seven touchdowns and just scored their lone TD on the road last week. Their biggest challenge is finishing drives inside an opponent’s 20. Last season, they ranked sixth in scoring TDs in that area of the field and now are tied for 29th, converting 35.2% of such trips.
They can put together long drives. In their 23-16 loss at Indianapolis, the Titans strung together three drives lasting at least 10 plays only to settle for three field goals from Folk. A nine-play, 70-yard drive ended at the Colts 5 when three-time Pro Bowl running back Derrick Henry was stopped on fourth-and-1.
That came in the fourth quarter with Tennessee trailing 20-16.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said they’ve had eight double-digit play drives end in field goals. Luckily for the team, Folk has made all 13 field goals he’s attempted, and he’s responsible for 46 of their 88 points scored.
“We just have to be at our best late in those drives,” Vrabel said. “As much as that’s impressive and we converted and stayed efficient, talked about all those things. Well, we just made mistakes down in the red zone.”
Tannehill has thrown more interceptions (five) than TD passes (two), and Henry nearly matched his quarterback for TD passes last week in a loss at Indianapolis except DeAndre Hopkins’ left foot landed just outside the end zone.
The addition of the three-time All-Pro wide receiver was supposed to help the offense. Hopkins is doing his part, leading Tennessee with 26 catches for 356 yards. But he has yet to catch a TD pass this season with Henry’s toss to him last week the closest he’s come to scoring.
Hopkins is coming off his best game yet with eight catches for 140 yards, and Tannehill said the chemistry keeps building.
“DeAndre will be a part of that,” Tannehill said of scoring more touchdowns.
It won’t be easy against Baltimore. The Ravens are the NFL’s toughest defense to score against when backed up inside their 20.
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine has caught both of Tannehill’s TD passes to this point, and rookie tight end Josh Whyle caught a jump pass from Henry in their win over Cincinnati. Westbrook-Ikhine said they have shown as an offense that they can score quickly and drive down the field.
“It’s a building block, but we’ve got to take another step too,” Westbrook-Ikhine said of scoring inside the red zone.
NOTES: WR Treylon Burks (left knee) was among five Titans who did not practice Wednesday. He has missed the past two games. DL Teair Tart (toe) didn’t practice. LB Azeez Al-Shaair (neck) and C Aaron Brewer (neck) were limited. Henry and Hopkins were limited simply for rest.
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