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For Titans coach Whisenhunt, trouble in Opryland

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Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt looks on in the second quarter of a game against the Green Bay Packers at LP Field on Aug. 9, 2014 in Nashville.

It’s rarely a good sign for a first-year coach when the team president finds it necessary to extend a vote of confidence barely halfway into the season. But that’s what Tennessee Titans executive Tommy Smith did last week for Ken Whisenhunt, the former Steelers offensive coordinator and Arizona Cardinals coach who succeeded Mike Munchak — now the Steelers offensive line coach — as Tennessee’s coach.

Whisenhunt conceded in September he “overestimated” his team’s ability, and he’s been proven right since. After winning their opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Titans (2-7) lost their next three by a combined 66 points.

Nearly everything that could go wrong is going wrong. Whisenhunt already has gone through three starting quarterbacks, and an offensive line loaded with former first-round draft picks and higher-priced free agents is playing terribly. (Maybe they miss Munchak?)

Smith said going into the Titans’ 21-7 loss Sunday at Baltimore that something had to be done with a line he said cost “a fortune.” The Titans have lost seven of eight, partly because they’re averaging 62 yards rushing in their past four games. The Titans are 31st in offense and 27th in passing despite Whisenhunt’s offensive acumen.

It’s not been much easier for new defensive coordinator Ray Horton, the former Steelers secondary coach, who is installing a 3-4 defense. The Titans are 29th against the run.

Unless the Titans can beat the Steelers for the third consecutive season on Monday night, they’ll be swept by the four AFC North teams this season.

Did You Know?

Since taking the Cardinals to the Super Bowl during the 2008 season — when they lost to the Steelers in the final minute — Whisenhunt is 30-43.

MICHAEL OHER

The subject of “The Blind Side” book and movie, the former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle must feel as though pass rushers are coming from all sides. He grades out as the fourth-worst offensive tackle among the NFL’s top 74 on a line loaded with starters with poor grades, according to Pro Football Focus. Already, there’s talk the Titans will let him go after this season.

Stat: 25

The Titans blew a 25-point lead against the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 5 and lost 29-28, the worst regular-season collapse in NFL history.

ZACH METTENBERGER

Jake Locker couldn’t get the job done. Charlie Whitehurst couldn’t get the job done. And now the Titans are down to starting Mettenberger, the former LSU quarterback.

It’s rare when a sixth-round rookie starts at quarterback, but the Titans believed they had no other viable options. In three games, he has three touchdown passes, three interceptions and a fumble.

Stat: 18-2

Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s record when opposing a rookie quarterback starter.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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