Titans need to force the issue running the ball vs. Jaguars

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – At the end, the Titans abandoned the run out of necessity in Sunday's 26-16 loss to the Raiders Sunday.

Murray2OAKBut a 41-to-21 pass-to-run ratio isn’t something a run-determined team can have very often, and the equation Mike Mularkey would prefer we use when measuring such things seems a bit much to me.

“We went into no huddle late in the third quarter, early fourth, a lot of that dictated throwing the ball more than running the ball,” Mularkey said. “Obviously 2 minute (drill), definitely you’re going to throw the ball more. And again you have to look at all the third down snaps we had and factor all those in and then balance out to see where your run-pass ratio is.”

I understand his broad point: Some game situations dictate passing. But when we look at run-pass balance we aren’t doing all that math. We’re looking at if the gap skews too big and plus-20 pass skews too big.

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Trouble spots and reasons for hope from the Titans' loss

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Digging a bit deeper into the Titans’ 26-16 Sunday loss to the Raiders.

Things to hate:

The ground game: While the Titans managed a 4.5 rushing average, 21 on their 95 ground yards came on a 21-yard stutter and stutter again play by DeMarco Murray in the third quarter. They were not able to assert themselves on the ground the way they often did last year. Running backs combined for only 18 carries and 69 yards. Twenty-one rushing attempts vs. 41 pass attempts was dictated some by trailing but is not close to the balance they need.Cyprien2OAK 1

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Opening gift was bad harbinger for Titans against Oakland

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mike Mularkey gets a plus for being aggressive.

The Titans coach gets a minus for being aggressive at the wrong time.

His team might have lost anyway, because the Raiders may just be better. But a couple head-coaching decisions impacted the opening day 26-16 loss to Oakland, and left observers with plenty of second guessing.MurrayVsOak

Mularkey called for an onside kick on the game's opening play, and rookie safety Shalom Luani played it well and safely cradled it. Tye Smith of the Titans was surely executing his assignment but had he cut inside of Luani and looked for the ball, it was his.

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The aftermath: Raiders 26, Titans 16

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans couldn’t match the solid Raiders Sunday, and swallowed a disappointing 26-16 loss.

The run defense, supposed to be a strength, couldn’t stop Oakland late to help get the ball back, which just added to the sting.

Ultimately, however, the offense has got to put up more than 16 points against a high-quality opponent to win.

Some quick hits:

That start: Yes, if the Titans recover the onside kick it’s brilliant. But they didn’t. To me, that’s an over-anxious coach trying to do too much with one play. The Titans brought in a slew of great special teams cover guys. Kick it off and pin the Raiders deep, don’t provide a great offense with a short field. Or take a touchback and defend a 75-yard field instead of a 50-yard one.

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Mailbag: The influence of wide-receiver depth on tight end

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Welcome to the mailbag. Let's go.

PK: The Titans are a two-tight end team. Nothing there has changed. I wrote this very early in camp: Influx of wide receivers doesn’t mean Titans will turn into a three-wide receiver offense. That holds true, and it’s not because of a lack of depth. It’s philosophical. It's

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Dick LeBeau turns 80: Messages to the Hall of Famer from three of his players

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans defensive coordinator and Pro Football Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau turns 80 today, and Sunday he becomes the first 80-year old coordinator in NFL history.FullSizeRender 34

“My plan is to not acknowledge it,” LeBeau said, laughing. “To paraphrase Garth Brooks’ song, it’s a good song, I’m much too old to feel this damn young, man. That’s all I’ve got to say about the birthday.”

LeBeau was born on Sept. 9, 1937. He played at Ohio State from 1955-58 and for the Detroit Lions from 1959-1972 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010. He's coached in the NFL since 1973.

LeBeau still loves the work and he's still sharp. The Titans are lucky to have him. He and the defense have a big task ahead, as Derick Carr and the Raiders offense can really push the ball downfield and the offensive line affords him quality protection.

I asked three members of LeBeau’s defense for a preview of what they’d say to him.

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The Titans' unanswered questions, in order of importance

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Cornerback LeShaun Sims (groin) is out. Left tackle Taylor Lewan (ankle) is in.

Still, there are things we still don’t know about Sunday.FullSizeRender 32

The top questions I want to see answered, in order of importance to me:

Who starts opposite Logan Ryan? Everyone presumes it’ll be Adoree’ Jackson, the 18th pick in the draft. And, frankly, it should be. But until it’s revealed before the game – maybe with a lineup 90 minutes ahead of kickoff, maybe not until the defense takes the field -- I am not going to say it’s definite. The Titans could start Brice McCain and bring in Jackson as part of the nickel package.

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Johnathan Cyprien vs. Jared Cook a matchup to watch

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Covering tight ends was an issue for the Titans last season, and rookie Jayon Brown’s role as the new nickel linebacker has been thoroughly discussed.

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But Brown won’t be part of the Titans’ base defense, and even the best coverage linebacker won’t always be asked to cover the tight end. Plenty of them are simply too fast and athletic for a linebacker to match up with.

It’s new strong safety Johnathan Cyprien we are likely to see trying to slow Jared Cook and the Raiders’ tight ends on Sunday at Nissan Stadium. 

“I feel good about that matchup,” Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. “Johnathan’s got plenty of size, he’s fast, very agile. I’m very happy that Jonathan is on the Titans’ side.”

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