NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The referee announces a timeout, and the quarterback heads to the sideline.

The conversation there is short, but it offers time to reset.

And as an offense returns to the field, I think it’s reasonable to expect a higher degree of success than on a random play in the game not after a timeout. It’s like the 15-play script an offense leans on at the start of a game. There should be some advantages.MariotaHandoffIND

Mike Mularkey doesn’t necessarily agree.

“It just gives you a chance to rethink things,” he said. “Is there something better? I never factored in anything like (the idea that production should be better after a timeout). Just you get more time to discuss the next play.”

In Sunday’s loss to the Rams, the Titans didn’t impress coming out of timeouts.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The 2004 Buffalo Bills faced a win-and-in game in their regular-season finale. They faced Pittsburgh in Buffalo, and the 14-1 Steelers had already sealed up their No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.

Ben Roethlisberger and Jerome Bettis didn’t play for the visitors.

An 18-yard fumble return for a touchdown by James Harrison, in the 17th game of his career, helped propel the Steelers to an unneeded 29-24 victory.


That sent first-year Bills coach Mike Mularkey into the offseason lamenting key moments in the season

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On Nov. 26, Derrick Henry looked way better than DeMarco Murray in the Titans’ second win over Indianapolis.

Henry took 13 carries for 79 yards, while Murray had 12 for nine.

On Nov. 30, Mike Mularkey spoke well of both running backs and declared, “I think we have two starters.”HenryStiffArmCIN

On Dec. 3 against Houston, Murray played only eight more snaps than Henry.

But since then, the Titans have shrunk Henry’s role way down.

During the Titans’ three-game losing streak, Murray has been on the field for 143 snaps, while Henry has played just 51.

It's not as if Murray’s been rolling during those three games. He averaged 3.2 yards a carry on his chances, while Henry was at 2.8.

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DavisRamsNASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans can lose Sunday to Jacksonville, and if two other games fall correctly they can back into the playoffs riding a four-game losing streak.

They could then go to Jacksonville or Kansas City and lose a first-round playoff game.

And after coming to terms with that result, they could actually claim success.

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Imagine, if you will, a scenario where the Titans lose their final fives games, managing along the way to get above the line that some of us said would define their season as a success or failure -- but finishing with an overall record of 8-9.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The NFL has explained how the Titans onside kick that took advantage of the Rams unpreparedness was washed away Sunday at Nissan Stadium.

“The officials inadvertently miscommunicated to the Los Angeles sideline that it was a full timeout instead of a 30-second timeout,” Michael Signora told Jason Wolf of the Tennessean on Christmas and RefGenericrepeated to me Tuesday morning. “When LA was not ready for the kickoff due to the miscommunication, the officials decided to shut it down and allow for a re-kick.”

That’s probably the fair thing to have done.

But that’s a heck of a gaffe, for the officials to not communicate properly the length of the timeout to the Rams bench.

The Titans knew the situation and took advantage of it. And they suffered for someone else’s mistake in a game that was loaded with poor officiating.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Virtually every time a call goes against the Titans and fans go crazy over it, I respond that a good team should overcome it and it generally evens out in the end.

And I’m not hitting on the officiating here as an excuse for a struggling team that lost its third game in a row, this one 27-23 against the Rams at Nissan Stadium.MariotaSitRams

The home team made too many mistakes to win it.

But referee Walt Anderson and his crew made to too many too.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Merry Christmas everyone. Hope you are set for a great and memorable long holiday weekend.

If you missed it, Jonathan Hutton and I sat down for 75 minutes to chat with Jeff Fisher on The Midday 180.

Here's one highlight:

On to your quality questions.

IMG 5141PK: It’s got to be the coach, right? If a GM gives a coach a ton of talent but the coach doesn’t know how to use it, or mismanages games, a franchise may not get the desired results. A great coach can find ways to play effective football with the talent he has, provided he’s got at least some.

Also I think an elite coach can influence a GM’s player acquisition more than an elite GM can influence a coaches Xs and Os, player development, clock management etc.

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