Todd Downing has been a target of criticism throughout the Titans' 1-2 start this month.
Tennessee has scored 51 points in three games, 26th in the league through three weeks. That number includes seven points total in three second halves.
Downing says he cannot pay attention to the criticism, though he acknowledges the existence of it.
"I will tell you very bluntly, I can't pay attention to all the stuff that's going on out there and all the opinions about me. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I respect the fact that people have jobs to do, and people to find to place blame on and all that," Downing said on Thursday. "I know that I'm responsible for the offense. I know that there are certain things that come with this role, responsibilities, critiques and constant evaluation that comes with this role. But I can't afford to let somebody else's opinion cloud what Coach Vrabel thinks of the job I am doing or what Jon Robinson thinks of the job I am doing or, frankly, what the players in the locker room think of the job I am doing. I owe it to them to give my best.
"And in that process, I really try hard to maintain my identity. I work my tail off, and I do it for a bigger audience than trying to get the praise of man. I don't really do this job to be celebrated in the media. I do this job so that I can be the man I'm called to be in the role that I have, and hopefully I can continue to improve in that at every turn and help get the offense to where we want it to be."
The criticism of Downing's time as offensive coordinator and playcaller with the Titans started when he was promoted to replace Arthur Smith following the 2020 season. Downing had been the Titans tight ends coach for two seasons following a one-and-done year as offensive coordinator with the Raiders in the final year of Jack Del Rio's tenure.
Circumstances were not the best, with Derek Carr returning from a season-ending leg injury and No. 1 receiver Amari Cooper working through a concussion and a high ankle sprain during the season, but the reality is that the Raiders offense's numbers dropped from a good 2016 season (6th in the NFL in yards gained and 7th in points scored) to a mediocre 2017 (17th and 23rd). Carr may have had his best season as a pro under Bill Musgrave (with Downing as the QB coach) the year prior, with 3,937 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and six interceptions as the Raiders made the playoffs. He struggled in 2017 under Downing, throwing for 3,496 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions as the Raiders slumped to 6-10.
Downing's 2021 season as offensive coordinator produced a similar drop-off. The Titans were 2nd in yards and 4th in points scored in 2020, and it fell to 17th and 15th (24.6 points per game) in 2021. Ryan Tannehill may have had his best season as a pro in 2020 (3,819 passing yards, 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions, 8.7 adjusted yards per attempt), followed by a 2021 season that replicated some of his struggles in Miami (3,734 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, 6.6 adjusted yards per attempt).
Circumstances again played a role. Derrick Henry was absent for nine games. A.J. Brown and Julio Jones were in and out of the lineup. The Titans' offensive line, with different personnel, had 23 more sacks in 2021 than 2020.
But as Downing said on Thursday, it's his responsibility.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Yes, Tennessee Titans' Todd Downing hears the criticism toward him