Titans' biggest cause for hope: Four smart game plans we've seen this season

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans best hope for an upset Sunday night in what’s effectively a home playoff game against the Colts unfolded the last few days in the coaches’ offices as they game-planned.

I’m not sure how they worked around Christmas, but I am sure they still put in the hours.VrabelIntense

To win this game, I believe Mike Vrabel, Dean Pees and Matt LaFleur need to win the plan like they did Sept. 16 against Houston, Sept 23 at Jacksonville, most notably, Nov. 11 against New England and Dec. 2 at the Giants.

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Titans have the stage, now they've got to beat Andrew Luck for the first time

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Things have set up perfectly for the Titans.

They are in the coveted game 256, hosting Sunday Night Football in Week 17, playing a win-and-in, lose-and-go-home playoff game.

The city will be abuzz, Nissan Stadium should be full.LuckLandryIndy

The big issue, of course, will be the guy wearing No. 12 on the other side, for the archrival Colts.

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Scout's take: Marcus Mariota struggling with delayed blitz from middle of the field

Blake Beddingfield was a Titans' scout for 19 years, through the 2017 draft. He was the team's director of college scouting for his final six years. Follow him on Twitter at @BlakeBeddingfi1. He’s brought to you by Party Fowl. Eat hot chicken and drink boozy slushes in The Gulch, the Boro or in Donelson.

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special contributor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Washington played about as well as it could have with a fourth-string QB.  

Josh Johnson was calm in the pocket for most of the day but struggled to make the easy short to intermediate throws to sustain drives. Open receivers struggled to get the ball in their area to make the completion.GabbertThrowWash

Johnson did a good job of escaping the rush in the pocket and buying himself more time to see the field.

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With potentially massive game looming, Titans again left to wonder: Can they count on Marcus Mariota?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Injured, again, Marcus Mariota wasn’t on the field with the Titans in the second half at Nissan Stadium Saturday evening.

It struck me that he wasn’t out there at all.

Hey, if the doctors felt he needed treatment inside, so be it.MariotaHurtWash

I understand there are all sorts of different degree of stingers, and if he had one that numbed his throwing arm or hand and he couldn’t throw or grip a ball he simply couldn’t play through it.

But this marked the seventh game in his career that he was knocked out of (and the first of the seven the Titans won). He’s also missed seven starts.

So in 63 games he either hasn’t started or hasn’t finished 14. That’s 22 percent. It's not in his control. But it's way too much.

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Blaine Gabbert makes giant contribution, and hopefully heads back to the bench

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- When Blaine Gabbert started in Jacksonville and quarterbacked a win, Mike Vrabel pointed out the Titans got something out of their backup quarterback they hadn’t the previous year.

In Saturday’s 25-16 win over Washington, Gabbert helped engineer the win in relief, the first time in seven games Marcus Mariota’s been knocked during play that the Titans have gone on to win.GabbertSignalWash

It means the Titans could be in line for a win-and-in Week 17 game against the Colts at Nissan Stadium on Dec. 30. It would take a 10th win, without another key starter, Jurrell Casey, and with Mariota’s status uncertain. Oh, and they are 0-10 against Andrew Luck.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans late-season slew of injuries continued when Pro Bowl defensive linemen Jurrell Casey was helped off the field in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s win over Washington.

The team is not expecting he will play again this season, in Sunday’s regular-season finale and in any playoff games the Titans earn beyond that.


Casey was just elected to his fourth-consecutive Pro Bowl and is a singular pass-rushing force in the Titans defensive front. He has a team-leading seven sacks and went into Week 16 with 48 quarterback pressures, 30 more than anyone else. [Unlocked]

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Titans must finish soft section of schedule 5-1 with win over Washington

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- With 14 of 16 games played for each team, knowing what we know now, the Titans have six games on their schedule they shouldn’t have lost or shouldn’t lose this season.


If they won/win all six, they’d have only had to split the remaining 10 for an 11-5 record and they’d have contended to the very end for the AFC South with the mark.

It doesn’t work like that of course.

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YAZOO PODCAST: Derrick Henry nears 1,000, impact of others' injuries on Malcolm Butler and Rashaan Evans, Hall of Fame cut-downs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Welcome, welcome. welcome. It's time for this week's edition of the podcast.


I discuss Derrick Henry and Corey Davis approaching 1,000 yards and their team-first feel about the marks as well as Dean Pees' formula for drives without explosive plays and penalties.

I also hit Malcolm Butler's readiness for a bigger role with Logan Ryan out for the season injured, what the absence of Brian Orakpo and Sharif Finch at outside linebacker this week may mean for Rashaan Evans and what I was thinking as I cut down my Pro Football Hall of Fame ballot from 25 to 15.

You can find it on iTunes, here, or directly through the Vokal website, here. Feel free to hook us up with a rating and review on iTunes.

If you're a member of the site, Part 1 and Part 2 are together, and all you have to do is head below the line.

It's a great time to become a member or buy a membership as a gift since we're on sale for 25 percent off. Just head here for the steal of a deal.

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