As most Titans trumpeted 'Any win's a good win,' one offered a more honest assessment

mdi construction barCLEVELAND – Just as their boss wants, the Titans spat back the conventional, cliched, expected answers in the locker room after a 12-9 overtime win over the woeful Browns Sunday.

I don’t hold it against the players, honestly.

Mike Mularkey says any win is a good win, it’s hard to win in the NFL, the Browns are a good team on the cusp. It’s understandable, too, that the coach wants to hear his players echo the themes.

But it’s nonsense, frankly.Titans3logos

Sure, finding a way to win it and get to 4-3 and stay atop the AFC South is significant. Sure, winning it is better than losing it. Sure, anyone with a stake in the team would happily have taken an overtime win against a bad Jaguars team on Christmas Eve last year.

The display on the shore of Lake Erie, however, showed us a team that is far, far less than it expects and claims to be.

And only one guy had the gumption to say so.

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Titans survive in Cleveland, but cannot be happy

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CLEVELAND -- So much isn’t working and looks disastrous.

No one on the outside will argue with that.

But the Titans still have the counter-arguments that matter: It was ugly and it took overtime, but they just beat the Browns 12-9 and stand at 4-3, tied for first in the AFC South with the Jaguars, a team they’ve beaten.

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Mailbag: Marcus Mariota as a 'pocket passer'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – If you missed Friday’s Periscope/Facebook Live from Neighbors in Sylvan Park, shame on you. I will allow for you to rewatch it here.

On to the mail…

PK: There seems to be some real confusion on this. It’s not as if a healthy Marcus Mariota is constantly out of the pocket. The Titans don’t roll him out or run bootlegs. He generally drops back and looks downfield. The thing is, he can take off when he doesn’t find anything or when the rush closes in. The departure in the Colts game was that they didn’t call a couple runs for him and they asked him not to scramble. There was not a drastic reduction in throwing on the move, as he doesn’t do that much throwing on the move when healthy.

Titans have got to get more from Sylvester Williams

TitansGlowNASHVILLE, Tenn. – It’s a good thing that the Titans are looking to play their best people, with contract status and experience not playing a role in who plays and who doesn’t.

But when a team signs a guy to a three-year, $17.5 million free-agent deal, he needs to be at the front of the line.

Sylvester Williams was the Titans’ nose-tackle choice and when they signed him on March 14. From that moment, he should have been the front-of-the-line guy in the middle of the team’s defensive line.

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Brian Orakpo promises sacks will get where they need to be

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Against a batch of largely-mobile quarterbacks, the Titans defense has managed a sack on just 4.2 percent of pass plays, 30th in the league.Sacks will come. I am nowhere near concerned. 1

The defense has, however, managed more pressure.

A year ago after six games, the Titans had 18 sacks and 73 pressures.

This season it’s nine sacks and 81 pressures.

“Sacks will come, I’m nowhere near concerned,” said Brian Orakpo, who’s got one this season. “It definitely is a slow start for everyone, especially myself. But we can’t start trying to play out of our element. They will come. We’re not doing anything different from last year to this point.

“They just haven’t fallen for us. A lot of teams are just hot going to let us tee off on these quarterbacks right now and finish with sacks. When you watch other teams get these sacks, you see a lot of broken plays, quarterbacks running around and they’re able to finish.

“We’re able to get the pressure but guys are getting rid of the ball. We just can’t get frustrated. I know it’s something people want to look at as far as the numbers. But I promise you by the end of the season we’ll be back to where we need to be.”

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Marcus Mariota's super-natural calm should create believers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – All the questions about whether mild-mannered Marcus Mariota’s personality is fit to lead an NFL team had been answered with a resounding yes well before Monday night.

But his reaction after his 53-yard touchdown throw to Taywan Taylor solidified and symbolized it.IMG 3220

He’s a super polite, low-key guy. But he will grab someone and express a strong message when needed.

Just after he released that pass, he got hit by Jonathan Hankins, who had finally gotten by Quinton Spain. The guard didn’t like the hit and wanted to let Hankins know about it, but Mariota saw Spain’s interest in jawing with the defensive lineman and intervened, pushing Spain toward the extra point territory and pointing.

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Zero mental errors by Titans receivers keyed offense vs. Colts

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In 14 years as an NFL offensive coordinator or head coach, there have been zero instances when Mike Mularkey has seen zero mental errors from a group of wide receivers.

Until Monday night.Zero

Earlier today I wrote about the great field sense we saw from Eric Decker. It turns out that he, Rishard Matthews, Taywan Taylor and Eric Weems didn’t make a mental mistake in the 36-22 win over the Colts.

That is a giant deal for a team that has often spoken of the difficulties created for its quarterback by targets who failed to get to the right spots at the right time.

“I thought it was huge,” Mariota said. “It’s a great step forward. Whenever one trusts the game plan, when everyone trusts what’s going on and trusts that they are going to be where they are supposed to be, we’re able to execute. That’s the standard, that’s what we have to live by…

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Eric Decker's sense of place a big deal for Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In his best game since he joined the Titans late in the offseason, Eric Decker consistently showed off an excellent understanding of just where he was on the field during the Titans' win over the Colts Monday night.

That’s something the Titans have been craving for years and year, and something recent second-round picks Justin Hunter and Dorial Green-Beckham, who are no longer around, simply didn’t have.DeckerEnter

“He is a special player,” Marcus Mariota said. “He finds ways to get open. He did a great job (Monday) in feeling some of those soft zones. When you have a guy like that convert third downs, it’s huge, that very important for the success of the offense.”

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