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Titans are NFL's top team at preventing big plays

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Take away the run and make them one-dimensional.

It’s a long-standing and popular defensive philosophy. If a team can make it happen, pass rushers are free to go after the quarterback on largely predictable pass plays.

A statistical skew is not uncommon: Teams that are really good in run defense might not look good numerically in pass defense, or vice versa. Some defenses can, in effect, force more yardage into one category.RyanHou

Currently the Titans rank third in rush defense, but 25th against the pass.

Still there are some really good signs about the Titans’ pass defense as compared to the seven around the league that rank worse.

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Titans consider Kevin Dodd an emergency defensive lineman

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Kevin Dodd has been a very quiet outside linebacker since the Titans made him the 33rd pick out of Clemson in the 2016 NFL draft.

He's been a healthy inactive seven times this season.DoddCAR0819 1

But Sunday when the Titans got banged up on the defensive line, they were close to using Dodd as a defensive end, Dick LeBeau said.

My video report on Dodd as a defensive lineman:

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Some of you need to examine your expectations for Titans

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Let’s talk a bit about expectations.

Two years ago, the Titans went 3-13 and had the No. 1 pick in the draft.

They didn’t renew the contract of Ruston Webster and hired Jon Robinson. They elevated Mike Mularkey from interim coach to the full job. And they started a major rebuild.

Sometimes those go super fast – as we’re seeing with the L.A. Rams.

More often, they are methodical.

And whether you can tolerate their poor point differential or several other flaws, they are 8-4, currently the third-best team in the AFC.

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Titans let go long-time scout Phil Neri

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans have parted ways with longtime college scout Phil Neri, two sources have confirmed.

He was in his 13th season with the franchise and his 40th season as an NFL scout. He came to the Titans after serving as college apple icon 114x114 precomposeddirector of personnel for the Cleveland Browns. His contract was set to expire this spring after the draft.

It’s uncommon for a team to part ways with a scout during the season.

The college football regular season just concluded and the team’s scouts are currently in town for the first wave of draft meetings.

Neri served as the cross-checker for all prospects West of the Mississippi and it’s unclear who is now filling that role.

Titans general manager Jon Robinson did not reply to a request for comment and Neri did not return a text message.

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Two wins in next three games ensure Titans play for division crown Dec. 31 against the Jaguars

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – If the Titans can win two of their next three games, their worst-case scenario will be that the Dec. 31 game against the Jaguars at Nissan Stadium of for the AFC South crown.

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Back-to-back games out West come with challenges, but the team will doubtlessly do some bonding between the matchups with the Cardinals and the 49ers as they practice at Arizona State.

That’s followed by a home game against the resurgent L.A. Rams, who are the NFL’s surprise story, but will be coming off games against the Eagles and at the Seahawks.

They’ve been declared the worst 8-4 team in history by one analyst, but they simply don’t care.

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Did you love the 1999 Titans? This team is a lot like that one

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Considering all the deductions the Titans are being given on style points, we are overdue to look back to the team’s most successful season for a comparison.

The romanticized 13-3, AFC Champion 1999 Titans looked a lot like the 2017 team, currently 8-4.

Many Titans fans are unsatisfied that this team hasn’t blown out lesser opponents. But its average margin of victory is 8.25 points and in the franchise’s lone Super Bowl season that number was 8.7 points.

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'It's an ugly sport:' Titans fans need to accept this is who their team is right now

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Nissan Stadium was hardly full Sunday.

But I looked around as Texans left tackle Jeff Allen got called for three successive false starts late in the game, and the lower bowl was crowded.

In combination with the patch club level and upper deck crowd, those in attendance made enough noise to help flummox the visitors TitansDoorsand influence a 24-13 win that got the Titans to 8-4.

And maybe there was a bit of a turning point in there.

There was less negative overreaction from the fanbase, and I sensed more buzz.

Whether there is or isn't, it's time for fans to accept this team for who it is. It's not going to win beauty contests, but it is going to win games. And as Delanie Walker told me, "Who said football was pretty? It's ugly, It's an ugly sport."

My video report:

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