Better start a mandatory ingredient for the Titans in any upset scenario

mdi construction barPROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Titans are a gritty team that’s shown resolve and an ability to fight back from tough circumstances, circumstances they often create for themselves.

But the slow starts have been an issue all season long. They’ve hardly overcome it with any regularity even though last week they stormed back from an 18-point deficit in Kansas City.WalkerWarmKC 1

Starting slow against the Patriots is a formula for disaster.

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Pickers mailbag: Can the Titans find a light-bulb moment?

mdi construction barPROVIDENCE, R.I. – Greetings from New England, where the entire staff of PaulKuharsky.com is preparing to cover Saturday night's big game.

IMG 5707Big thanks to MDI Construction, our travel sponsor, for its role in getting us here, and to Pickers Vodka, which sponsors the weekly mailbag.

I said on The Midday 180 -- which just expanded to four hours -- that I give the Titans an eight percent chance. That's not nothing.

On to the mail.

PK: This is the fundamental question about the 2017 Titans and we know a lot of what has factored in – Marcus Mariota injuries, lack of development by the young wide receivers, a dip in offensive line play, some play-calling issues and the scheme. How all those pieces have, or have not, fit together is hard to say.

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It's time for Marcus Mariota option plays

mdi construction barPROVIDENCE, R.I. – Bill Belichick will be surprised by nothing. But that doesn’t mean things can’t work against his Patriots.

apple icon 57x57 precomposedThe Titans put three receivers on the field more often than usual in Kansas City and ran effectively out of that set, often with Marcus Mariota in shotgun.

In all, they ran 43 such snaps, on which they gained 332 yards and scored all three of their touchdowns.

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New England D doesn't look great on paper, but we're looking at the wrong categories

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Patriots have the NFL’s 29th-ranked defense, 20th against the run and 30th against the pass.TitansFloor

But those are not the numbers that matter as the Titans get set to try to pull at upset in Foxborough, Mass. Saturday night.

New England owns the fifth-best scoring defense in the NFL, allowing just 18.5 points a game. Four times they’ve held their opponents to single digits.

Here is Terry Robiskie on how the Patriots defense works:

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Delanie Walker: 'It surprised me that Titans were so good this year'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans are just two seasons removed from owning the No. 1 pick in the draft.

That’s a reminder we need to offer often, because there was a tendency though much of the season to feel like the Titans had not gotten good enough, fast enough.WalkerKC 1

“It takes time, it really takes time,” Brian Orakpo said.

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Titans' culture change has featured better relationships between kids and veterans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The cultural shift the Titans have managed over the last few years has included shedding some bozos, adding some eager youth and building some strong generational bridges in the locker room.

Matt Cassel, the 35-year old father of four, and Adoree’ Jackson, the 22-year old precocious rookie probably don’t have a great deal in common. But the Titans have forged an atmosphere where working together for the greater good of the team has become something all kind of different guys now share in.

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Two veterans who’ve been to the Pro Bowl spoke this week about how a younger team has created a far better interpersonal dynamic at the office.

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When Marcus Mariota is calling the plays and when he's changing them

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- One of the big things people want to know about the Mike Mularkey-Terry Robiskie offense run by Marcus Mariota is just how much the quarterback can change out of plays at the line, and when he gets to call the plays himself.

Robiskie has talked about how no-huddle is limiting for the Titans.MariotaShotgunKC 1

But it sure worked well during the playoff win at Arrowhead Stadium when the Titans went to it, probably 40 to 50 percent of the time.

And when they are in it, Mariota is calling the plays.

To learn more about when Mariota has that freedom and when he has the freedom to check out of plays, I went to a key team resource on such matters: the backup quarterback.

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