Whisenhunt does not see Titans' early start as a leg up on rest of NFL

Don’t tell Ken Whisenhunt that the Tennessee Titans got a head start on much of the rest of the NFL when they commenced with their offseason conditioning program this week.

“We’re behind,” he said earlier this week. “This extra two weeks is good but we’re way behind. I mean, we’re putting in a new offense and a new defense and we haven’t done anything with these guys before. We don’t have a 16-game season under your belt where you can look at cut-ups and talk about plays that you’ve run.

“We need the two weeks and hopefully that can help get us going.”

The collective bargaining agreement that was negotiated prior to the 2011 season and went into effect once NFL owners ended their lockout of the players that year allows teams that change head coaches to begin offseason conditioning two weeks ahead of the rest. Those teams also get an additional voluntary minicamp.

Maybe it was a coincidence but last year eight franchises changed coaches and three of them made the playoffs. That’s the same number that made the postseason in the last two years under the previous set of offseason rules (2009 and 2010), when there were 14 coaching changes.

One of the teams that made the playoffs in 2013 under a new coach was San Diego, where Whisenhunt was offensive coordinator.

“Hopefully it works in a positive [way],” cornerback Jason McCourty said. “I think it will. When you come to a new team and you’re putting in a new playbook you need these two weeks to get adjusted, to take it home, study it, learn it. Because not only is it new defensive plays but the way we refer to offenses when we look at them could be totally new terminology.

“… This is a great advantage that we really need to get a head start on learning that playbook and now we all really get a chance to meet our coaches and know who they are and what they expect of us. And they get to meet us … first-hand and see what type of guys we are.”

The rules are very specific of what can and cannot be asked of players during this time. For a team like the Titans, though, players do have the opportunity to get into the playbook and discuss things with their coaches even if they can’t go out on the field yet and work on specifics of the scheme under those coaches.

“It’s good that we get an extra two weeks, that we start. But we’re behind,” Whisenhunt reiterated. “It’s going to take a lot of effort from our guys – putting it in in the classroom, in the weight room and once we get on the field.”