NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Titans quarterback Jake Locker is coming off a game in which Tennessee's offense couldn't have been much worse in the first half, and he deserves much of the blame.
"We just didn't execute well ... I didn't play very well," Locker said Wednesday.
His coach and teammates think Locker is taking too much of the criticism.
Ken Whisenhunt said that Locker missed on a couple throws but the Titans coach has seen other NFL quarterbacks turn in ugly performances. The Titans managed only 68 yards total offense and trailed 16-0 at halftime.
"I like the fact that he recovered and played better in the second half," Whisenhunt said. "That's an important piece of it. Once again, I'll go back to what I said about the first half. It wasn't just Jake. I acknowledge Jake missed a couple of throws, but there were a couple of other situations where other guys broke down. Those things all work together."
Locker, playing for a new contract in the final year of his rookie deal, could not have started the season much better with a 111.4 passer rating and two touchdowns in a win at Kansas City. Then he came out in the first half of the Titans' home opener against Dallas completing only 4 of 12 passes for 26 yards with an interception in what he acknowledged was a frustrating performance.
His worst pass may have been overthrowing tight end Taylor Thompson. The Titans went three-and-out on their first three possessions, four of the six in the first half and never ran more than five plays in any possession.
Left tackle Michael Roos says Locker is the kind of leader to take the blame even when the mistakes weren't all his. That first half was the kind of day where not even looking at film always helps pinpoint what went wrong or should have been done better.
"Then it ends up snowballing usually," Roos said. "That's kind of what happened. We weren't able to get anything going, and we kept going three-and-out, three-and-out. We were able to recoup at halftime, take a deep breath and come out and not press and not try to force anything. Just relax."
The Titans scored 10 straight points in the third quarter, and Locker was 14 of 22 for 208 in the second half with a 61-yard TD pass. He completed eight of nine passes in the third quarter as the Titans went no huddle, both in an attempt to jolt the offense and get back in the game.
Locker said the problem in the first half was the offense simply not executing.
"I thought we did a great job in that game of putting that behind us and moving on," Locker said. "We just have to continue building off of that."
Now both he and the Titans (1-1) need to make sure they're all on the same page before visiting Cincinnati (2-0) on Sunday. The Bengals drafted Andy Dalton in the second round in 2011 when Tennessee took Locker eighth overall. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said in a conference call he's sees Locker continuing to develop but likes how the quarterback takes care of the ball.
"That's the key thing of the quarterback position is you want to maintain the ball for your offense," Lewis said. "He's completing a high percentage of his passes, so we've got to really do a good job around him."
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