The cool-down period is over, the coaches have talked, the quarterbacks have spoken, players pulling on their ties and folding down their collars or sliding their feet into flip-flops have answered questions.

All of them are held to account.

Simultaneously, the officials clean themselves up and gather their things. But they leave the stadium in the shadows, answering for nothing.

The only way we hear from them is if a media member requests a pool report about something specific in the game.

And those are typically disasters, where tape recorders are stacked up and protocols are followed that all but ensure no meaningful answers. I resist asking for them, because a pool reporter has to waste his post-game in the name of nonsense.

We know the consequences of being poorly graded, in-house, are grades and rankings that can cost zebras playoff game assignments. But let’s say, hypothetically, officiating is poor league-wide. The best of the worst get the most important games and the worst of the worst have their season’s end early. There is pride involved there, and maybe money.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Last year the Titas failed to win the AFC South because of a failure in Miami, which was largely determined by an incomplete pass by Matt Cassel being ruled a fumble and getting returned for a touchdown.

We're a long way off from knowing the fate of the 2018 Titans, but it's possible they look back on a bad call in Miami messing them up again.

William Hayes third-quarter hit on Marcus Mariota that messed up his elbow should have been a penalty, the NFL told Mike Vrabel. Mariota said Hayes told him after the game he didn't mean to hit him low.

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Reviewing the debatable calls and no calls the Titans dealt with in Miami

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Referee Jerome Boger and his crew were overy influential in the Titans’ opening-day loss at Miami.

I don't like to put things on officiating, but it was increasingly bad and Boger lived up to his poor reputation.

Let’s review the main moments for him and his crew: umpire Bill Schuster, down judge Mike Carr, line judge Rusty Baynes, field judge Dale Shaw, side judge Jonah Monroe, back judge Tony Steratore and replay official John McGrath.

Game time: 10:29 left in the first quarter, no score.

Situation: Third-and-4 from the Miami 28.

IMG 4676What happened: Marcus Mariota threw deep into the left side of the end zone where Taywan Taylor was running with corner Bobby McCain. The defender tugged on Taylor’s arm as the two dived, but Taylor still had the ball in both hands and should have held on to it for a TD. There was no pass interference call and the Titans settled for a 47-yard field goal.

Vrabel said: “I thought the guy came early. I asked (down judge) Mike (Carr), I said, ‘Mike did you think?’ He said, ‘No, I thought it was bang, bang.’ And I thought the guy came early. But we have to do a better job of executing those and hitting some of those big plays when we get an opportunity.”


Game time: 14:01 remaining in the second quarter, Titans leading 3-0.

Situation: First-and-10 from the Miami 44.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans botched plenty on their own in Miami, and simply didn’t play well enough to start the Mike Vrabel era with a win.

Generally, I want to steer clear of officiating complaints, as I am a believer that things even out. But they weren’t even and didn’t even out for Tennessee in Week 1.

Brian Orakpo said the way the NFL is now officiated has changed the way he plays.OrakpoProfile

“You used to err on more aggressive, but the one time you err on more aggressive you get called and it just ruins that possession and that is an automatic first down, tack another 15 and you not only put the team in a bind, you put the defense in a bind because now you have to play some more plays,” he said.

“It’s just a tough scenario, man. The NFL is getting tougher and tougher to judge each and every year. I wonder how long this league is going to last, honestly."

Orakpo said he loves the player safety but says the frequent calls hurt drives, possession, momentum.


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Scouting notes: Jonnu Smith is not ready to take over for Delanie Walker

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- This was a disastrous game for the Titans in so many ways. The loss was the most insignificant thing of all that transpired on Sunday.

They endured the length of the game, injuries to arguably the three best players on the Titans’ roster and the inconsistency from both the offense and defense. 


The unfortunate realization is the team will be without the Titans’ best offensive weapon in Delanie Walker going forward. Others will have to step up and young players that needed to grow and develop will now be doing that playing in a prime position.

Marcus Mariota started hot in the game. He used the short passes and the run game to control the clock while moving the ball downfield. Unfortunately, the team was only able to come up with 3 points on those first two drives. 

The fourth-and-goal stop by the Dolphins ended up being the momentum swing they needed. The offense took over and started to wear down the Titans’ defense down with a short-passing game and a mixture of inside and outside runs. It all produced a 98-yard touchdown drive. 

The Titans’ decision to go for it on fourth down was a gamble that didn’t pay off. The play call was tough because it was a one-option pass route. Mariota said afterward he needed to put Corey Davis in better position to take the catch into the end zone.

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Titans bemoan 'cheap shot' on Taylor Lewan, Dolphins' celebration of it

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Concussed, Taylor Lewan sat in his locker waiting on the rest of the Titans to get cleaned up and ready to go.

IMG 4583In that state, he’s not allowed to talk to the press, but he didn’t seem to mind listening to a few of his linemates talk about the hit that knocked him out of the game.

As safety Reshad Jones returned the first of his two interceptions, this one for 26 yards, end Alan Branch found an opportunity to bury Taylor Lewan and appeared to knock him out.

“It’s a weird angle, I think it’s a cheap shot, you can’t go back on a player like that, they’ve taught us that,” Dennis Kelly said. “Taylor is

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Warned that 'indecisive equals ineffective,' Marcus Mariota showed us how it works

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – It’s fair, if super-patient, to say Marcus Mariota needs a bit of time in the new offense to go out and win them games.

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It’s also fair to say at the start of his fourth year, he simply cannot lose them. And he played too big of a role, pre-injury, in the Titans'openingn-day, 7-hour and eight-minute undoing against the Dolphins, an ugly 27-20 loss.

Nine completions in 16 attempts for 103 yards with two interceptions and a 36.2 passer rating along with three runs for 15 yards is, to put it mildly, insufficient.

People got fired for their failure to maximize his skills. A system has been built around him. If it’s not all clicking yet, that’s understandable.

But when he’s got Luke Stocker open on a pretty play design he’s got to get it to him quickly and with enough on it that the tight end

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Titans could well be doomed without Delanie Walker

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- They are holding out hope he's not finished for the season, but the visual evidence of Delanie Walker's ankle/foot injury in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 7-hour sure suggest he's not going to be in their huddle anytime soon.MDI 2

He didn't need emergency surgery in South Florida and went back to Nashville with the team, a good sign but one offset by how quickly a trainer tossed a towel over the foot and how fast the cart came on the field to take him off.

"Our thoughts and our prayers are with him," Mike Vrabel said. "It certainly didn't look good where I was standing and I'm sure it didn't look any better from where you guys were either."

We saw nothing during the 27-20 loss to suggest the Titans have anyone who has the same rapport with Marus Mariota and the same penchant for production.

It's not like he was rolling in this one, but we know his history. And Corey Davis catching just six of 13 balls throw his direction, even though some were off target and not on him, doesn't suggest he's taking over the No. 1 reliable weapon role soon.

Here's my video report on the Titans minus Walker.

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