Mailbag: On Marcus Mariota's stats, the Titans' use of three-wide and must-wins

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Welcome to the weekly mailbag, where we cover a lot of ground, not just one item like you will find in some mailbags.

PK: Yes, but this is a fan problem, not a team problem. If you’re a fan of a team you need to remain conscious of where fantasy football ends and real football starts. He’s hardly played his best and his stats aren’t impressive. And they’re 5-3. I think his best football this season is still ahead of him, which bodes well for him. But whether his numbers are good or not, I think if you’re a football fan in Nashville and this team stays on its current course, you should probably be more excited about it. (You can not be excited if you don’t want to be of course. But I don’t know that you can claim to be a giant fan if they are 6-3 heading to Pittsburgh and you say “meh.”)

Check out this picture I took Friday. (Yes, I tinkered with some settings.)IMG 3880

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How the Titans use Marcus Mariota and why it's not a tragedy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – From the outside looking in, some media and fans have a persistent question about the Titans. It buzzes around and I’ve swatted at it, but never landed a direct shot.

Are the Titans maximizing Marcus Mariota?MariotaHeadPointBAL

Many of you will scream no, right away.

But let’s go a bit deeper as I remind you that the league, and the world, is built with shades of gray and things are rarely black or white, yes or no.

Let’s start with what Greg Cosell of NFL Films said on The Midday 180 this week and build from there.

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Do the Titans need to run it well for effective play-action, or just run it?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When play-action teams don’t run much play-action, they usually say it’s because they aren’t having success running it.LewanDoor

But time and time again over the years I’ve see play-action passing work even if runs aren’t successful. It seems it’s not so much about running it well as it is just about running it at all.

“It’s because you still have to respect our run game, no matter what the situation is, if it’s a 1- or 2-yard gain, you’ve got to respect or run game and what we’re able to do,” Murray said. “Obviously they are stacking the box so I think that left some one-on-one matchups. It all plays in in the end, but at the end of the day I think defenses do respect our run game no matter what.”

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The top football influence on some top Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – I’ve been surveying the Titans on who their biggest football influence is.

Here is a sampling of the best answers.

Jurrell Casey: “The most influential person in my football life, I would say is my uncle, Forrest Burns. He coaches me all my life, taking me to the park, working on drills, really keeping me focused and motivated for football. And then my mom, she’s always been a die-hard fan, giving me support.”

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We got succinct: Will Twitter's 280 characters now prompt us to babble?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – We’ve doubled up on Twitter characters, and the first thing the vast majority of us did with it is joke about our plan for the extra space.Image 1 2

A lot of people on my timeline tested it out to see what they could fit.

One did a line-by-line of Mike Keith and Pat Ryan’s Titans Radio call of the Music City Miracle. Another listed all the years the Yankees won the World Series. A third saw how many times he could fit “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

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Halfway through, would you take Titans-Jaguars in the finale with everything on the line?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Someone asked me recently if the Titans could make a deal right now to have the Dec. 31 season-finale at Nissan Stadium be for the division title and a playoff spot, should they take it?Titans logofence

That’s a heck of a question that I asked on The Midday 180 and in this poll.

I’m still not certain if I would take that or not, mostly for one reason: Blake Bortles.

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Is that a lot? It feels like a lot: Jon Gruden's 66 compliments from Monday Night Football

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It’s not that Jon Gruden loves everything.Gruden

Last night he was critical of the Packers pass rush, an early unwillingness to push the ball downfield and their overall lack of pass rush. He also gave the Lions grief over their persistent red-zone issues.

But when ESPN’s Monday Night Football color analyst likes something, the gushing can get ridiculous.

So I watched the game with a notebook on my lap, trying to jot down every compliment:

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