How to evaluate the Titans heading into the bye

Titans' win over Browns raises question marks (1:08)

ESPN's Cameron Wolfe says the Titans have to be more consistent on offense if they are going to compete for an AFC South title. (1:08)

CLEVELAND -- It's tough to pinpoint who the Tennessee Titans truly are after a roller-coaster seven weeks. They are a compilation of the highs -- wins over Seattle, Indianapolis -- and the lows -- back-to-back losses to Houston, Miami -- that we saw in the first half of the season.

So how should Titans fans feel going into the bye week?

The offense is inconsistent and there's plenty of blame to go around. It doesn't make sense that the Titans went from being a high-flying 36-point offense against the Colts to needing overtime to get just 12 points against the winless Browns six days later.

The introspection will have to begin at the coaching level. After seven weeks of struggling in the first half of games, it's worth wondering if there should be a change to how they plan the first 15 plays.

There's a lot of talk about the Titans establishing their bread-and-butter plays, and they need to. But this team has too much offensive talent to have to squeak out a 12-9 overtime win against the Browns.

So was Sunday's performance closer to the Titans' ceiling or floor? You'd like to think the latter, but it's hard to say for certain given that we probably saw their floor in their 57-14 Week 4 loss against Houston. So maybe a better question is have we seen Tennessee's best football already?

"It's a hit or miss," receiver Rishard Matthews said. "I feel like we have at certain times [Sunday], obviously, we didn't and I think we all feel that way."

Tennessee does have to use this week to figure out how to get the run game going, get Marcus Mariota and the receiving core on the same page, and put points on the board early.

Getting Mariota comfortable may be most important. Too often it feels like he's not reaching his maximum output consistently. That's on Mariota and the coaching staff.

"We've got to be efficient and we've got to score points," Mariota said. "As the season rolls on, we start playing playoff teams and we have to find a way to score points. I'm glad we have a week to figure it out."

Red-zone woes have been what Mariota and Titans coach Mike Mularkey pointed to as the biggest problem. The Titans are converting just 46.7-percent of their red-zone trips into touchdowns, tied for 24th in the NFL. Last season, Tennessee was first at 72 percent. Some regression was expected, but this is a problem.

It couldn't be more apparent than Sunday when the Titans had first-and-goal from the 1-yard line, and couldn't punch it in after four tries, including three runs up the middle. That's who this team is at its core, smashmouth.

This is a team that ran for 168 yards, averaging 4.9 yards per carry, against the Colts on Monday. They followed with an 80-yard rushing day, averaging 2.5 yards per carry, at Cleveland. DeMarco Murray said Cleveland often put nine defenders in the box and left tackle Taylor Lewan discussed the Browns' run blitzes. The Titans weren't able to make plays downfield or off play action to make them respect the passing game.

The positives are that this team should be relatively healthy coming out of the bye week, they are in great position at 4-3 leading the mediocre AFC South, and the potential of this team is still apparent and exciting.

Corey Davis and Johnathan Cyprien, two starters who have been out with hamstring injuries since the first two weeks of the season, are expected to return shortly after the bye. The week off will give the Titans, and specifically Mariota, Murray and Delanie Walker, a chance to recover.

For all the problems discussed above, this is a Titans team still very much in control of how their season ends. Tennessee should at least be considered the co-favorite to win the AFC South and they have one of the NFL's easiest schedules down the stretch.

The Titans' defense is providing plenty of reason for optimism as they are playing their best football over the last three weeks, holding the Dolphins, Colts and Browns to just 33 points and just two touchdowns. This unit may have been the biggest weakness going into the season, but it's carrying its own weight.

"We're on a two-game winning streak. We're in a better position than we were last year," safety Kevin Byard, who had three interceptions Sunday, said, comparing the Titans' 2016 3-4 record after seven games to this season's 4-3.

Lewan added: "We have to be better with the run and on third down. But hell, it's great to be 4-3. It's great to go into the bye week with a win. We still control our destiny. That's the most important thing."