NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Officiating has been a giant topic for Titans followers after a miserable performance by Jerome Boger and his crew in last Sunday’s season opener.

What we now know is the league, allegedly working hard on protecting players and preaching player safety, thinks both William Hayes’ hit on Marcus Mariota and Andre Branch’s hit on Taylor Lewan were not fine-worthy.

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Hayes was not fined for his play, and Branch was fined $10,026, not for his hit, but for unsportsmanlike conduct after it.

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Hayes hit Mariota after the quarterback executed a run fake following a run-pass option handoff to Derrick Henry. The QB is fair game there, but the play had moved far enough along that it was clear Mariota did not have the ball when he was hit. It did not draw a penalty in the game. But the NFL told Mike Vrabel it wants that play to be a penalty. If it's an uncalled unnecessary roughness penalty, then it should have been worthy of a fine. There was zero consequence.

Lewan got buried by Branch on an interception return. The defender clearly picked out Lewan and made a long approach to hammer the unaware left tackle, who briefly appeared to be knocked unconscious. Vrabel said he didn’t think the hit was illegal, but that that Branch had clearly targeted Lewan on the play.apple icon 114x114 precomposed

Mariota is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Texans because of the elbow injury he suffered in an awkward landing after Hayes flipped him on to his back. Vrabel has said he expects to play both Mariota and Blaine Gabbert.

Lewan is out for Sunday, still in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

Titans’ fans are, understandably, confused about the player safety push in words vs. in action.

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