Pickers picks: Vandy and Rams win, Delanie Walker scores

pickers vodka 847x63NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Pickers has been good. The picking has been bad.

It doesn't mean we do not forge ahead.

Games of the week (2-3-1)

Rams -2.5 vs. Saints

I don’t want to go back to the Rams after losing with them against the Vikings last week. But the Saints should be favored in this game for how well they are playing. I go with the startling spread theory. When it strikes me as wrong, it turns out not just right, but big right.

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DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry not subject to same decision-making critiques as Titans at other positions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The SkyCam angle used to show us the Titans Nov. 16 loss at Pittsburgh gave us a different vantage point on the Titans running game.

And we saw DeMarco Murray make some less-than-great choices on some carries, moving away from holes and into defenders.MurrayPIT

Mike Mularkey said there were some plays where the Titans failed to block the right people. But he’s not in the habit of reviewing where a back did or didn’t go.

“I've never (played running back), and I'm sure most of those people making those comments haven't either, to tell our backs how to run, especially DeMarco Murray, he’s got 7,000 yards of hitting holes the way he does,” Mularkey said. “I know if we block it better, we should've had bigger runs. We had opportunities for much bigger runs than we had (Thursday night) if we block it better.”

This idea of nearly complete running back decision-making freedom is something I don’t recall every delving into.

Jeff Fisher, who was an NFL punter returner, used to say he’d never question a punt returner’s decision on whether to fair catch a ball or not.

Beyond that, is there another position where decision-making isn’t subject to coaching review, where film review doesn’t focus on it?

I’m thinking the answer is no.

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Titans need to try more no-huddle with Marcus Mariota

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When the Titans stalled in 2016, they’d occasionally jump into no-huddle.

It served as a change-of-pace for the offense, often jump-starting things. The Titans could dictate some matchups by not substituting, thereby not allowing an opponent to substitute.

But in 2017, no-huddling has been hard to find outside of 2-minute drills and faster play dictated by a big deficit. The Titans did it a bit against the Ravens on Nov. 5 coming out of their bye.HuddleSEA

That was cause for optimism. Maybe their bye-week review prompted them to go back to it?

Mike Mularkey said film showed the Ravens were susceptible to it.

We haven’t seen it since.

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What the Titans mean when they say they are asking 'a lot' of Marcus Mariota

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mike Mularkey has routinely said the Marcus Mariota has increased responsibility in his third NFL season.

On Friday. After the big loss at Pittsburgh, the Titans coach said this:

“Yeah, we're asking him to do a lot, a lot more than I've been around. We trust him to do that. I know he's thrown more. I'm glad he's our quarterback. I know this, we still have a chance to win every game with him no matter what the score is, where it is in the game. Nobody ever talks about how accurate he is in some of the throws he does make, all you guys keep asking me are about the throws he doesn't. There's a lot of good throws that he makes every Sunday, very tight window throws.”

First off, when a quarterback throws four interceptions, the conversation isn’t going to be about his completions and Mularkey surely knows that.MariotaPointPIT

Secondly, what’s with this conversation about all Mariota is being asked to do?

If a quarterback is asked to do a lot, I presume it involves the passing game. And the Titans passing game isn’t doing a lot.

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Too few veteran Titans have gotten better this season

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Some players got older and that can certainly be a factor in reduced production. Injuries are the same.

But let’s set aside Brian Orakpo and DeMarco Murray where age and or injury can be at play.MurraySurroundedPIT

Let’s side aside the Titans six rookies, the other 13 newcomers to the roster and the kicker and punter who are having great seasons.

Of the other 32 guys, who’s gotten better in a way we can see in games?

I don’t think it’s unfair to say only two guys fit the bill:

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Pro Bowl: Don't vote for everyone on the Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Pro Bowl is broken and irrelevant.PB17 non sponsor citydate WEB

For years I’ve said one team should be named, with no alternates getting moved up. Then no game should be played. A week in Hawaii should be highlighted by community service projects and major fan interaction. (I know the Pro Bowl this season is in Orlando. It should always be a trip to Hawaii. The prime destination is one way to minimize dropouts.)

There should be a  skills competition that would draw better ratings than an exhibition game. And the awards show the NFL has put on the Saturday night before the Super Bowl should be held that night to cap it all off.

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Mularkey on officials: 'I just want everybody held accountable'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Referee Ronald Torbert and his officiating crew from Titans-Steelers Thursday night botched a call that handed the home team the field position it needed for a field goal at the end of the first half.

Adoree’ Jackson forced a fumble as Antonio Brown ran with the ball after a catch. Martavis Bryant recovered the fumble, which had advanced 10 yards. The rules say that inside of 2 minutes remaining in either half or on fourth down, if the fumbling team recovers the fumble with gained yardage, it must be returned to the spot of the fumble.

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It hardly cost the Titans a game, but it did cost them a field goal. And when such a clear call goes against them it’s hard for them not to wonder about the system that disciplines such misses by officials.


The league reiterated that the error is part of the crew’s review for the game. Cumulative reviews determine whether officials get playoffs assignments. Those are additional work, which brings prestige and additional pay.

Mike Mularkey was upset about a lot of things after a poor showing in a 40-17 loss and in his comments he said the NFL should “say it like it is, quit hiding things.”

He, of course, fears the wrath of the league there, in the form of a fine.

But he still expounded on Monday.

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'I'd go for it:' An NFL afternoon through the eyes of an 8-year old

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – There is a gauge in my house that tells me how things are looking for the future.

He is 8.

When Fox uses a robot graphic or Seattle wears neon uniforms or a team does a silly touchdown celebration, I use Simon as a test.

Was that cool? Did you like it?

Because what sports do isn’t meant for his 48-year old dad nearly as much as it’s meant to get hooks in him.

So on a Sunday when the Titans were off, my son and I made a deal. He’d watch a big chunk of Red Zone with me, granting permission for me to write about it through his eyes.IMG 4129

Home from church, we changed into football watching clothes and sat side-by-side. A tray of snacky lunch items magically appear on the chair arms between us -- thanks, Teresa – as Scott Hanson took us around the league and showed off his remarkable bladder control while not going to the bathroom for over six hours.

“He could be sitting on a toilet while he does it,” Simon said.

Potty humor out of the way, right away.

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