Many NFL retirees will tell you that teams lose games more than the opposing team actually wins the game. This could easily become a philosophical or circular argument, but that's not the point of this article. This isn't about playing not to lose, this isn't about playing too conservative, it's about executing.
Coaches coach and players play. It's the job of the coaches to put their team in the position to make plays, where it becomes incumbent upon the player to do so when there. The Titans of 2012 had a lot of questions at both of these spots as it seemed neither coaching staff nor players could hold up their end of the bargain.
The 2013 Titans are different.
New offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is getting the feel for play calling and what works with the players he has. His open door policy and the symbiotic relationship he has with his players has accelerated any learning curve that may be in place.
Whether it's the addition of Gregg Williams or key free agents, Jerry Gray's defense has players where they need to be, and they're making plays while there. Wide open receivers, tight ends and miscommunication among the defense are hopefully a thing of the past.
The particular bad plays that can be singled out are not what is going to hold this team back. The Texan's loss was not about 1 singular overthrown pass on 3rd and 1. Every player is going to drop a pass, miss a throw, or run to the wrong lane no matter how good they are. Fans that focus on these singular moments in time are missing the big picture.
What will hold a team back is execution and discipline.
The Titans gave the Texans game away in a number of ways before the end of the 4th quarter. 9 penalties for 70 yards, most coming at the worst of times. Holding calls away from long runs or screen passes, back to back penalties that puts your team in the their endzone, and continually poor field position to start drives.
The Chargers game went much the same way if not worse. In order to win the game, the Titans had to fight a 3 front battle, facing the Chargers, the officials, and worse of all themselves. While the officiating was possibly the worst I've ever seen in person, the Titans still have no business racking up 11 penalties for 116 yards.
A holding penalty on the opening kick return started the Titans on the 13 yard line. Followed promptly by a dropped pass and a false start the Titans offense was looking at 3rd and 15 from their own 8 to start the game. Dropped passes, sloppy play, and constant penalties on special teams ensued for the entire game.
Time and time again in the past two games, a mental miscue or unnecessary penalty brought back a solid gain, or put the team in a poor position.
The Titans have shown resiliency, energy, and fighting spirit to start the season. The coordinators and coaches are doing a good job of play calling and time management. The players are stepping up, being accountable and making plays when they have to. This team has momentum and a swagger they haven't had in years. Now they just has to stop beating themselves and get out of their own way.