Yesterday, I spent some time on Titans' fan sites to read into their thoughts on the team and its pending season. The articles I came across included comments by Titans players and insights into their chief and immediate concern, mainly, winning this Sunday by "punishing" the Steelers. Specifically, their psychological game plan includes: 1) "running the ball down their throats" 2) beating up our cornerbacks early through their run game leading to game-shaping catches by Titan receivers as the game wears on, and 3) ex-Raven Safety Pollard and his fellow defenders playing like a "pack of vicious dogs."
In an age of platitudes and cliches, the Titans come across as meaning exactly what they say when they call their game with the Steelers a "must win" and their need to start the season with a victory a "key to our season." Titans coach, Mike Munchak, is on a bit of a hot seat, and his players are using his situation as a battle cry.
By contrast, the Steelers and coach Mike Tomlin point to last season's 8-8 record and flying 'under the radar' as motivation to return to "the standard." Unlike Munchak, no one is warning Tomlin that he needs to win "or else." I certainly have no insights into the Steelers' specific pregame mindset. However, my impression from comparing preseason and pregame comments between members of the two teams, including the coaches, is that while the Titans are 100% focused on beating the Steelers, the Steelers remain fixed on improving their running game, turnover ratio, sack total, zone blocking scheme, special teams play, intermediate and deep passing proficiency, and ultimately their season record.
In other words, the Steelers might be overlooking the Titans tree that's between their headlights in their focus on the forest. Here are three articles that explore the Titans' mindset.