CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans aren’t afraid to express their emotions, using words like embarrassed, disappointed, frustrated.
Now that they’re in touch with their feelings, they are about the business of fixing a defense shredded through the air the first two games.
“The defense that played last Sunday, I hope everybody got a good glimpse of them because they’ll never show up again this year I guarantee that,” linebacker Keith Bulluck said Wednesday. “We’re definitely going to get back to the basics, the defense that we’ve played here the last 10 years I’ve been here starting Sunday.”
That would be good timing with the Titans (0-2) visiting the New York Jets (2-0) and hot rookie Mark Sanchez — backed by a defense that hasn’t surrendered a touchdown yet this season.
Tennessee has lost two games by a field goal each, but the defense has given up 678 yards passing through for an average of 339 yards per game. The Titans aren’t happy because this is a veteran unit that returned 10 starters from a defense that ranked second in the NFL in 2008 in points allowed and ninth in yards passing allowed.
The only missing link? All Pro tackle Albert Haynesworth, who now calls Washington home.
Cornerback Nick Harper said it’s surprising from a secondary playing its third season together and featuring three pro bowlers. That includes safety Michael Griffin who said he messed up on a 72-yard TD catch by Andre Johnson and doesn’t’ want to be considered a one-year fluke.
“My eyes got caught in the wrong place so just got to learn,” Griffin said.
Harper found himself clarifying remarks he made after the 34-31 loss to the Texans about the Titans not making adjustments. The cornerback said Wednesday that he meant the players, not the coaches, and that he wasn’t the kind of person to point fingers.
But he said the secondary is embarrassed.
“We feel like we’re letting the team down. The past two seasons we felt like we was the strongest unit. Now we feel like we’re the weakest unit right now,” he said.
Schaub shredded the defense with seven passes of 19 yards or longer, repeatedly finding open receivers.
The Titans all agreed that the mistakes are fixable by studying film and working at practice. Defensive back Vincent Fuller called it basic fundamentals.
“We just learned how not doing it every single play can cost you. We just have to get back to keying on the little things and playing football the way it’s supposed to be played,” Fuller said.
Jets coach Rex Ryan said mistakes happen. But he sees Tennessee as an outstanding defense that will get everything fixed. The Titans have shut down the run so far, allowing a meager 49½ yards per game.
“They can wait a week, and that would be fine with me,” Ryan said.
It wasn’t just the Tennessee secondary. The Titans didn’t sack Schaub once, though they hit him a few times after he had released the ball. Defensive end Jevon Kearse said they are looking to get to Sanchez who has studied up on Kearse and Vanden Bosch, Bulluck and All Pro cornerback Cortland Finnegan.
“We’ll go with what the game plan calls for. We know we have a great running game, and we want to keep that up and keep our rush attempts high. If we need to throw it, we’ll throw it. We enjoy throwing that ball, too,” Sanchez said.
Not that the Titans are too worried. Coach Jeff Fisher pointed out it’s the same defense the Titans played in 2008 even though he has a new coordinator in Chuck Cecil with Jim Schwartz now the head coach in Detroit.
Linebacker David Thornton called last week’s game a wakeup call for the Tennessee defense.
“We just have to continue to stay poised and don’t panic. We still have a very, very good football team despite what our record says right now. Our confidence is still high. … We’re going to stick together and get through this,” he said.
Notes: Tight end Bo Scaife did not practice (left knee). Starting left guard Eugene Amano also sat out with an illness along with linebacker Stanford Keglar (hamstring).
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.