From Comcast SportsNetThe Tennessee Titans now have plenty of motivation to play better. Owner Bud Adams has made sure of that.The owner plans to evaluate everyone from the front office to the coaches to the players over the final seven games after the Titans lost 51-20 to Chicago, the most points allowed since a 59-0 loss to New England in 2009."In my 50 years of owning an NFL franchise, I am at a loss to recall a regular-season home game that was such a disappointment for myself and fans of the Titans," Adams told The Tennessean. "We were grossly outcoached and outplayed from start to finish."Coach Mike Munchak talked with Adams on Monday and said he understands the owner's frustration."I would probably have said the same thing if I were him," Munchak said. "This is his team. He expects us to play well, especially at home. That's our job. That's my job to make sure we're out there playing our best and winning games at home hopefully every time we line up."We didn't play well, and I'd be upset too if I were him."The Titans (3-6) didn't just look bad in the loss to the Bears, they looked inept with five turnovers. Even Chris Johnson, who had one fumble touching the ball 150 times coming into the game, lost two himself. They struggled to tackle with safety Michael Griffin dragged about 20 yards by Matt Forte before finally bringing the running back down with a horse collar tackle.They lined up incorrectly on back-to-back plays covering up the tight end, backing them up before getting a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown."The bottom line is it shouldn't happen," Munchak said of the formation penalties.Tennessee once again is last in the NFL giving up an average 34.2 points per game and remain on pace to top the 533 points allowed by the 1981 Baltimore Colts. The Titans already have given up 308 points through nine games after allowing only 317 points all last season.Adams can share some of the blame for the defense's struggles.The owner ordered his Titans to chase four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning in March, and that kept team officials busy for the first week of free agency. Sure, they signed veteran left guard Steve Hutchinson while they tried to woo Manning into picking Tennessee, but defensive ends Mario Williams and John Abraham signed elsewhere.That left the Titans to sign Kamerion Wimbley, who had played linebacker in Oakland before they switched him to defensive end. Wimbley has 3.5 sacks so far on a defense that has just 14 overall.The Titans started the season with their youngest opening day roster since 2006, a team that went 8-8 after losing the first five games that season.The defense is where the youth movement of the last two drafts shows up the most with two of the three starting linebackers in their second season along with rookie Zach Brown. Tackle Jurrell Casey is another defender in his second season, while end Derrick Morgan and cornerback Alterraun Verner are in their third.Munchak said he is not planning any staff changes right now."We have to win football games right now. I'm not spending my time deciding on making coaching changes, and no, I'm not thinking of doing that."The Titans visit Miami (4-4) on Sunday before a break with their bye. They may get Jake Locker back as their starting quarterback depending on what doctors say about his left, non-throwing shoulder. Locker has missed five straight games since dislocating his shoulder Sept. 30 for the second time in four games.Munchak said the key is when Locker is cleared for contact, and the quarterback worked with the scout team last week. The coach said they should know more by Wednesday. In the meantime, Munchak said he isn't the type to flip coolers or start yelling since that tactic never prompted him to play harder or better himself."My job is to focus them, direct them, teach them and try to get the best out of them, and that's what I'm trying to do," Munchak said.
During our series discussing the 1986 Boston Celtics, we have sat down with many players from that championship, along with members of the media that were close to the team.
This week features a few of the opponents that were very familiar with the 1980’s Celtics - Atlanta Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins, former Celtics coach (and Hawk) Doc Rivers, and Lakers great James Worthy.
BOSTON -- Early in 2016 praises were sung around the league that Xander Bogaerts was the best hitter in baseball.
Rightfully so. For a good portion of the season he led the league in both batting average and hits. But between Mookie Betts’ ascension and Bogaerts’ drop in average from .331 on 7/29 to .306 after Monday night’s game, he’s taken a back seat.
But the Red Sox shortstop’s month-long dry spell hasn’t been a straight decline. Although he was held hitless Monday, Bogaerts went 6-for-13 (.462) against Kansas City.
In fact, the 23-year-old doesn’t even consider the recent month of struggles the worst stretch of his career.
“2014 probably,” Bogaerts said, “yeah I had a terrible, terrible few months -- probably three months.”
That was of course the season a lot came into question surrounding the now All-Star shortstop, so he was pretty spot on. In 2014 Bogaerts went from hitting .304 through 5/31, to .248 by the end of June, .244 after his last game in July, all the way down to .224 by the last day of August.
Bogaerts would hit .313 that September and finish with a .240 average -- but more importantly, an appreciation of what he’d experienced.
“That definitely helped me become a better person, a better player -- and understanding from that and learning,” Bogaerts said.
From that experience, he gained a better understanding of the importance of maintaining a consistent day-to-day routine.
“That has to stay the same,” Bogaerts said without question in his voice. “The league adjusted, they adjusted to me. It kind of took a longer time to adjust to them. They’ve just been pitching me so differently compared to other years.”
Bogaerts has had the point reinforced to him throughout, with Red Sox assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez serving as one voice of reinforcement.
“When you have a routine from the mental side, physical side, when you struggle that’s when you really need that,” Rodriguez said. “He’s been so good with his daily preparation, it doesn’t matter the result of the game. He can always go to something that feels comfortable.”
“He’s been so comfortable and confident with his daily routine and preparation that it allows him -- when he doesn’t get the results he wants in the game -- to have some peace knowing that the next day, we’re going to go back to doing that again.”
It’s clear Bogaerts needs to maintain his daily routine to help work through slumps -- and maintain hot streaks -- but Rodriguez made it clear, consistent preparation from a hitter doesn’t magically cure every problem.
“That doesn’t mean that because you stick with the routine you’re going to have results,” Rodriguez said. “What it means is, [because] you know and believe in that routine that you know you’re going to get out of it.”
Which means in addition to sticking to his normal routine, Bogaerts also had to identify flaws elsewhere in order work through his problems. He came to realize the problem was more mechanically based than mental -- given he’d done everything to address that.
“They pitched me differently, and some stuff I wanted to do with the ball I couldn’t do,” Bogaerts said. “I just continued doing it until I had to make the adjustment back.”
Bogaerts isn’t fully out of the dark, but he’s taken steps in the right direction of late -- and is nowhere near the skid he experienced in 2014. He and Rodriguez fully believe the All-Star’s ability to maintain a clear mind will carry him through whatever troubles he’s presented with the rest of the way.
“The more stuff you have in you’re head is probably not going to help your chances,” Bogaerts explained, “so have a clear mind -- but also have the trust in your swing that you’re going to put a good swing on [the pitch] regardless of whatever the count is.”
Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter @ngfriar.
Ryan Johnston and Mike Flynn talk about the Tom Brady/Deflategate joke Peyton Manning told during Comedy Central's Roast of Rob Lowe.