Monday, October 20, 2003
Updated: October 21, 3:11 PM ET
Titans enjoy difference between 1-4, 5-2 starts
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans are so relaxed
these days that even coach Jeff Fisher is having some fun.
"The big thing for this week is we've just got to keep chopping
wood," Fisher said Monday.
That's a friendly dig at fellow Southern California alum and
current Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio, who had to place Chris
Hanson on injured reserve last week after the punter hurt himself
with an ax left in the Jaguars' locker room.
Yes, it's easy to make jokes when you're 5-2, a big improvement
from last year, when the Titans spent most of the season digging
themselves out of a 1-4 hole. And they are looking even better
after knocking off Carolina, one of the NFL's last undefeated
teams, 37-17 on Sunday.
Now, players who avoided the locker room last October when
reporters came to talk are hanging out playing games, watching DVDs
or just talking on their cell phones. Linebacker Keith Bulluck said
that's a big difference.
"You can walk around with a smile on your face easier when
things are going good at work," he said. "It's like anyone else's
The Titans have a chance to go into their bye week at 6-2 if
they can beat Jacksonville on Sunday in their fifth road game of
the season. That would set Tennessee up nicely with five of its
remaining eight games at home, where the Titans have won eight
"We have to build on that," Fisher said. "Our whole deal
right now is to find a way to be 6-2 before the bye week. We can
take a deep breath, and we can get started on the second half of
They are on a roll, having scored 30 points in four straight
games for the first time since 1962, when they were called the
Houston Oilers and George Blanda was quarterback.
Steve McNair has been the key, and now that his left knee is
healthy again, he is running around even more and making plays. He
ran for 30 yards, including a touchdown, against Carolina, and
remains the top-rated quarterback in the NFL.
The defense also has scored in three of the last four games,
counting Bulluck's 32-yard fumble return. A unit that had been
suspect against the run held Stephen Davis to just 20 yards on 11
carries, and the Titans forced four turnovers that resulted in 20
The biggest problem now is getting Eddie George and the running
game going. The Titans might be getting closer because they rushed
for a season-high 134 yards Sunday, even though George had only 51
on 18 carries. Robert Holcombe carried 16 times for 53 yards, and
mixed with McNair's yards, the Titans averaged 3.7 per carry.
The Titans also hope to have cornerback Samari Rolle (left
elbow) and tight end Frank Wycheck (concussion) back after the bye,
which would put the team at full strength as it starts preparing
for a different set of challenges.
"Now teams are hunting for you whereas when you're a 1-4 team,
teams might be overlooking you," Bulluck said.