Marcus Mariota needs to find a way to carry Titans vs. Rams

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Marcus Mariota has some big things working against him.

No. 1 is a Rams defense run expertly by Wade Phillips, 12th overall and sixth against the pass.

Next is a coaching staff that often seems reluctant to fully trust him and let him open things up, and that was completely thrown off a game plan in Arizona when the QB twisted a knee.Mariota3IND 1

And then there are his weapons. Even the best have let him down with mistakes recently, but after Delanie Walker and Rishard Matthews, who can he trust? Eric Decker will be in the right spot for sure, but he’s not getting the sort of separation that gives Mariota very big windows. Corey Davis seems to be fighting himself. Taywan Taylor is not consistently dependable.

Oh, and he’s got a left hamstring that I reported two weeks ago remained an issue and a potential offseason

Write comment (4 Comments)

What Jon Robinson may be thinking right now

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Maybe the Titans rally to win two games against two good teams and ride into the playoffs.

That’d be a giant save for Mike Mularkey, and might get a coach signed only through 2019 an extension, and with an extension the security he need to be able to offer for assistants to alter/upgrade his staff.RobinsonZoneb

Maybe the Titans lose both and things fall so beautifully around them they still make the postseason. (The wonderful New York Times NFL playoff machine said there is a 22 percent chance in that scenario.)

Overall, in 67 percent of the remaining scenarios, the Titans still make the playoffs. Do so, and controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk, who likes Mike Mularkey a great deal, may be perfectly content with the status quo for 2019 and maybe beyond.

The wild card is general manager Jon Robinson.

Write comment (4 Comments)

How the Titans can win out and still miss the playoffs, contrary to what The Tennessean said

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans, contrary to what the local paper would tell you, are not in control of their playoff destiny.

Until a few minutes ago, The Tennessean has a story that published at  7:00 a.m. CT Dec. 18 that led like this. (See photo.)

IMG 5050

That was finally just corrected.

Jason Wolf made a common mistake that inexperienced reporters make -- he shouldn't be making it at this stage of his career -- and concluded he could figure it out. But it's complicated and he failed to get it right.

The article was just changed, and from what I saw the new version includes no mention of having been incorrect for a long time, which is incredibly weak. 

But a fan whose name I am trying to secure to give credit reached out and shared the real story.

If the Titans win out and the Bills and Ravens win out and the Jaguars beat the 49ers Sunday, the Titans would miss the playoffs.

The head to head tie-breaker would not apply because Buffalo did not play the Ravens or Titans. The next tie-breaker is conference record which would be a tie. Then it would go to common opponents. Baltimore would win that at 5-0, Buffalo second at 4-1 and the Titans would be 3-2.

I've confirmed that scenario with the Titans. 

There are plenty of others in play as well. 

Write comment (0 Comments)

Let's discuss your demands for Mike Mularkey to be 'held accountable'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans are in a tailspin and not many are betting on them to come out of it.

Even if they win their two remaining games against very good teams, there is a route where they don’t make the playoffs.

Fans are understandably furious.MularkeyCIN

Which is when many of them show a lack of understanding about what it is I do here, and what the media does in general.

I’m not even sure what this means, but it sure feels like you think I should be getting out a hammer and nails for a crucifixion. Which I won’t.

To me, holding Mike Mularkey accountable means asking him to explain his decisions, which is what I, and the rest of the media, do every day.

Write comment (6 Comments)

After effective no-huddle vs. 49ers, Titans must make it a staple

mdi construction barSANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The Titans went up-tempo, no-huddle for only the second time I can remember outside of necessity in Sunday's loss to the 49ers.

Against both Baltimore and San Francisco, the Titans had success. Mike Mularkey spoke afterward about how IMG 5029those teams were somehow susceptible to it. 

It's so, so clear that Marcus Mariota and the offense are better in no-huddle. Guess what? Every team is more susceptible to better offense.

If the Titans don't do it Sunday against the Rams and on New Year's Eve against the Jaguars, I will honestly believe it's partly because Mularkey and Terry Robiskie won't want to look as if they were giving into outside demand.

My video report:

Write comment (1 Comment)

Late-season miscommunication undid Titans' defense vs. 49ers

mdi construction barSANTA CLARA, Calif. – After good work against well-established, top-flight receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald, the Titans got shredded by a 49ers groups of targets with far less stature.

IMG 5019The 49ers’ 10 longest plays accounted for 234 of their 414 net yards and came to rookie free agent Kendrick Bourne, veteran Garrett Celek, fifth-round rookie George Kittle, veteran Marquise Goodwin and fifth-round rookie Trent Taylor.

That’s hardly a murder’s row of targets, but they gashed the Titans, with Goodwin leading the way with 10 catches for 114 yards as a consistently reliable receiver on slants.

Write comment (0 Comments)

Titans killed their chance with third-and-2 call, execution

mdi construction barSANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Third-and-2, 1:20 left in the game, Titans at the 49ers' 32-yard line.

IMG 4902On a play that could have gotten the first down the Titans needed to force the hosts to burn two timeouts and gain ground for a game-winning field goal, they handed off to DeMarco Murray, who ran into center Ben Jones' back for no gain.

The 50-yard field goal that followed gave them a short-lived 1-point lead.

Jimmy Garappolo then carved up Tennessee, positioning the Niners for a 45-yard Robbie Gould field goal and a 25-23 win.

The conversation about the play-call after the game suggested our finger-pointing is not as cut-and-dried as we might think.

My video report on the third-and-2 play:

Write comment (3 Comments)

Mailbag: The power of point differential

IMG 4862SAN FRANCISCO -- Greetings from the West coast. Wish you were here. Kind of.

Behold the view I had Friday night when I arrived in my hotel Friday evening.

Thanks to my travel sponsor, MDI Construction.

On to your questions.

Write comment (1 Comment)