Why the Titans don't run more three-wide

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans reluctance to spend much time in formations featuring three wide receivers stems from the formational restrictions of the personnel grouping.

I’d never thought of it this way.

But Mike Mularkey and Terry Robiskie run a deception offense and don’t want to tell a defense what is coming. In their thinking, the three-wide sets we all think of as opening things up are actually limiting.MarcusThrowCIN

In 1994, Mularkey was the quality control coach in Tampa Bay. He watched more film that season than in any other, and working both side of the ball he saw what made things hard for defenses.

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In Pittsburgh, Titans will see familiar-looking defense

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The defense the Tennessee Titans will see on Thursday night at Heinz Field will look familiar.

Dick LeBeau’s been gone since 2015, but his stamp has lasted even as his replacement as defensive coordinator, Keith Butler, has added his own wrinkles.TitansSwordGlass

“You can sit down and watch them and you know, Keith Butler, I know he was with Dick for a long time, he’s been there for a long time, but a lot of things he’s doing is Dick LeBeau,” Terry Robiskie said.

“…The big thing playing the Pittsburgh Steelers, you can go back to history, you better be focused, the second thing is you better be patient. I can tell you nobody goes in there up and down, up and down, run the ball, throw the ball,

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Two weeks of mistake-free play in the red zone have yielded Titans gigantic results

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans biggest dropoff from 2016 to 2017 was in the red zone.

During last year’s 9-7 campaign, they scored a touchdown on 36 of 50 red-zone trips for a tremendous .720 rate.

Through seven games this season, that had plummeted to seven of 17 for a .412 clip.

A good share of the bye week focus was on third down and red zone, and in wins over Baltimore and Cincinnati, the Titans scored six touchdowns in six chances.MurrayScoreCIN

That included three in three chances against the Bengals, who came into Sunday’s game as the NFL’s No. 1 defense.

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Missed time caught up to Corey Davis in a poor showing against the Bengals

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On first glance, it seemed Marcus Mariota let the ball go earlier than he typically would.

Up the right side, Corey Davis hadn’t turned yet. He didn’t turn to look for it until really late, but when he did he was remarkably able to collect it on super-short notice.

“That play, I don’t know if I’ve seen one like that,” Mike Mularkey said. “The anticipation by the quarterback and the receiver to be able to catch that was pretty impressive.”DavisCIN

Said Mariota: “It’s a big-time play. For him to keep his concentration and come down with it was huge.”

That was the highlight of the day for the Titans rookie receiver, playing in just his fourth NFL game, a 24-20 Titans in over the Bengals.

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Reaction to over-reactive Titans' tweets after they beat the Bengals

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans 24, Bengals 20 edition of the ever-popular reaction to over-reaction file!

PK: Called it. You were dead on. There they are in the standings, 5-4 after being lost for the rest of the game. Oh, wait, actually they won and they are 6-3.JacksonCIN

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Terrific first drive in win over Bengals showed us what the Titans offense can and should be

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The opening drive was wonderfully orchestrated. The finishing drive secured the win.

The offense the Titans played in between was patchy at best, including a dropped touchdown pass, a missed field goal, an interception, a fumbled touchdown pass and the sort of inconsistency that’s been a hallmark of the 2017 Titans.

The home team never trailed during its 24-20 win until A.J. Green’s 70-yard catch and dash for a touchdown with 5:03 left.DeMarcoCIN

Marcus Mariota answered in franchise quarterback style, and he hit third read DeMarco Murray with a little dump off pass from 7-yards out and Murray fought his way in with a stretch to put the Titans ahead for good with his third score.

The Titans are 6-3, still a half game up on Jacksonville thanks to their head-to-head win. Tennessee faces a huge challenge with a Thursday night trip to Pittsburgh, looking to finish off a four-game AFC North run with a fifth consecutive victory.

As good as the last drive was, I want to focus here on the first one.

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Adoree' Jackson is jet fuel for an offense that should show more firepower without him

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Adoree Jackosn played at least six snaps on offense Sunday, and he was a threatening presence who gained 30 yards on three touches in a 24-20 win.

Sure, Mike Mularkey and Terry Robiskie should use all the weapons at their disposal, Even with the biggest contribution yet for Jackson, the Titans needed late heroics in order to win a game where they should have crushed it based on a 416-308 net yard advantage and 40:09 to 19:51 edge in time of possession.

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Another struggle, but the Titans move to 6-3.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. –  Call it to close, call it ugly, call it lucky.

It’s all accurate.

But there was something that felt different about this one at the end, where the Titans found a winning drive and put up the winning score with 36 seconds left against a top-flight red zone defense.IMG 3935

Titans 24, Bengals 20.

I said last week you should expect a zig-zagging team, and the Titans delivered that again while winning a fourth consecutive game sof the first time since 2009.

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