Tennessee Titans LT Taylor Lewan on his performance in season opener: 'That (expletive) sucked'

Ben Arthur
Nashville Tennessean

Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan said that over excitement played a factor in his struggles against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1.  

Lewan last Sunday was playing in his first regular-season game since tearing his ACL in October 2020. The three-time Pro Bowler acknowledged Thursday that his legs felt “drained” and “heavy” by game time, adding that there was anxiety in making his return to the field. He felt more worried about messing up than he was about performing. 

Lewan added that as a veteran he knows the pitfalls of over excitement, but his ACL tear last year was his first-ever football injury and he put pressure on himself to play well. 

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Lewan was one of the main culprits in the Titans’ pass-protection woes in the embarrassing loss to Arizona. Cardinals star outside linebacker Chandler Jones blew by Lewan twice on the same first-quarter drive that led to sacks. Jones had three of his five sacks in the first period, and Arizona finished the game with six overall.  

"I remember it being Monday before the game and I'm amped up and it's like 'What the hell am I doing on a Monday?'” Lewan said. “I get to Sunday, and I'm drained ... Chandler Jones is a stud, right? There's no denying that. He dummied me all day. I'm not going to live in 'this' or 'I did this or that.' I have to be accountable. I wasn't accountable in that game to my team, to myself, to my family, to everyone watching, to you guys, to the fans. 

"You go (to the sideline), you get an IV and you're cramping and you come back out, and they announce that I'm back in the game and you get boos from the fans. That stuff happens, man. It hurt, but at the same time, with the way I was playing, I don't blame them.”

Lewan acknowledged that he was trying to compensate for his surgically-repaired knee in a “couple ways” during the opener, but declined to use it as an excuse for his performance.

"I could sit here and try to overthink everything and be like 'this' and 'that' and 'I was on my toes' and 'I wasn't on my in-step on bullrushes. I didn't punch when I usually punch,’” Lewan said. “You know what? It's all bull (expletive) at the end of the day, you know what I'm saying? It's all kind of like, I can say whatever to you guys. The reality is it wasn't good enough and I think I got in a panic mode in the first quarter and was trying to figure out, 'OK, what should I change?' And that's not usually the route I go. It's like 'OK, let me just keep working at what I'm good at. What are my strengths as a football player?' And I wasn't doing those things. Definitely want to learn from it.”

Lewan also explained his postgame tweet, where he said he got his “(butt) kicked … no way around that” and thanked Jones for “exposing” him. Some NFL observers questioned the purpose of the message. 

The Titans left tackle said the tweet came down to his performance being “embarrassing.”

“I felt like one of those kids on Rivals when the five-star athletes are playing against the 165-pound white kids playing tackle,” Lewan said. “Kind of just do whatever you want with me, right? Like, 'You want me to go this way? Sure, I'll go that way.' ... It's kind of just what it was. There wasn't any energy in my play and there wasn't any attitude or how I usually play.

“The fans need to know I'm just not going home to my house and sitting with my kids smoking a cigar going 'well, I'll get them next time,’” Lewan continued. “That (expletive) sucked. That (expletive) was awful, you know? I don't want to go through that again. Big couple days out here to definitely work on all that and going into a very hostile environment with some very talented pass rushers and go play some ball on Sunday."

Lewan on Thursday didn’t want to talk about playing better this week against the Seahawks. He sees no point in making promises.

He’s focused on showing up for Week 2 and getting back to who he is.  

"You don't put too much pressure on yourself from that standpoint,” Lewan said of tucking away a bad performance. “I'm a pro football player. I've done this for a long time at an extremely high level. Let's just get back to that. Put myself in front of a guy and block him, you know? 

“I'm not reinventing the wheel with the way I play. I just need to go back to the way I play."

Ben Arthur covers the Tennessee Titans for The USA TODAY Network. Contact him at barthur@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter at @benyarthur.