Titans kids ‘bring lighter fluid to the barbecue pit’ in rout of Jaguars

mdi construction barJACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On a sweltering afternoon at EverBank Field the Tennessee Titans got contributions from a lot of guys in a dominant 37-16 win over the Jaguars.

First- and second-year players were among the keys that unlocked an excellent road win against a team that crushed last season’s playoff hopes here.IMG 2139

We may obsess over the inactive outside linebacker Kevin Dodd, but Derrick Henry, Adoree Jackson, Taywan Taylor and Jonnus Smith all made contributions or plays to behold in this game, and that bodes very well for the franchise.

“Huge,” veteran outside linebacker Brian Orakpo said as Jackson walked by and gave him grief over Texas’ loss to USC Saturday night. “It’s a great thing. Look at my man Adoree’ over there making plays. Jayon (Brown), Derrick Henry. It’s a nice change-up.

“It’s refreshing when you have a lot of depth on a team. You see it throughout the league. Finally, the Titans have depth.”

Not just depth, but dynamic play.

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It's a big game, but the season doesn't ride on today

mdi construction barJACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Titans need to play better in the division and they need to return to Nashville at 1-1.

Fans are talking about a must win and I've got some people on Twitter telling me this game determines if the Titans are for real or not.

Certainly they need a win.

Per The Big Lead, since 2006, just 10 teams that started 0-2 and advanced to the postseason

But if they lose it's not a death-blow to the season.

They started 1-3 last year and got to 9-7 and had plenty of chances at one more win that would have gotten them to the playoffs.MDILogo2

They can lose today and still make a dramatic improvement in the division. They can lose today and still win the division. They can lose today and still find a way into the playoffs.

They would make it a lot harder on themselves, however.

I believe there is a tank a team draws on during the season, and an 0-2 season requires a team to really draw on that tank early and often. The fight back to .500 is a difficult one, and some of the energy spent doing so isn't available later.

They win this game and head home and everything is fine. They lose and while the city panics they can still be OK.

It'd be nice if they made it easier on themselves.

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Mailbag: Titans' worst 3 picks from the last 5 years

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Before we take off for Jacksonville, let's sort through the mailbag.FullSizeRender 36

@PaulKuharskyNFL what 1/2 rd pick in the last 5 years has hurt the most due to them being a bust and why?

— Logan (@Lgrady25) September 15, 2017

PK: There are three people on this list, and I will order them for you. No. 1 has to be Justin Hunter, the receiver chose 34th in 2013. He did the most of these three, but he’s No. 1 because the Titans traded up to get him. Tennessee traded its second-round pick (40th overall) and seventh-round pick (216th overall) plus a third-round pick in 2014 to San Francisco to move up six spots. You make that move you need a guy who’s at least a productive starter. Second is running back Bishop Sankey, chosen 54th in 2014. The Titans drafted him as the first back

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Titans say they can't be worried about avenging Christmas Eve disaster

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – That Christmas Eve dud in Jacksonville, a 38-17 loss ultimately responsible for the Titans’ failure to make the playoffs, stuck with the team into 2017 and the offseason. But throughout the locker room now they said they are not thinking about it now.FullSizeRender 36

“We didn’t play very well,” said Marcus Mariota, who suffered a broken fibula in that game. “It left a bad taste in our mouth. That’s something, I think, for a lot of guys it lingered throughout the offseason. Obviously, we want to play better. We want to play to our potential, and it all started (Wednesday) and as we go throughout the week.”

“That was last year, we have to make sure we’re focusing on this year now,” inside linebacker Avery Williamson said. “Make sure we are locked in, not worried about getting them back. Just go down there and get a game and get a division win.

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Mike Mularkey: Marcus Mariota best I've been around at forgetting a bad play

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The need to have a short memory and look ahead to the next play is always emphasized with regard to cornerbacks.

But it’s really a trait that any football player needs to have.MarcusSmileOAK

Left tackle Taylor Lewan has grown into an elite player in part because he's shown he’s better able to do that.

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Logan Ryan expects 'mouse' LeShaun Sims to roar

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As the Titans move forward with LeShaun Sims back in the mix at cornerback, depth shouldn’t be an issue in a reconstructed group atop the cornerback depth chart.

I expect Logan Ryan and Adoree’ Jackson to start with Sims as part of the nickel package that will move Ryan inside.

As encouraging as the fight from Jackson in his debut was, the super low-key Sims is also very promising.

A lot of cornerbacks have swagger, and a lot of times that swagger comes with some volume. Sims might be the quietest player in the Titans’ locker room.

“He’s a great person, got great character, he’s tough,” defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. “He’s very coachable, smart, everything you look for. He just doesn’t like to talk too much.”

On The Midday 180, Ryan said he thinks Sims joked about how he thinks Sims might let it all out one day.

“A mouse is quiet,” Ryan said. “He’s a mouse. He doesn’t say much. He’s got a little sense of humor here and there.

“I think he’s going to have a pick-6 and he might just take his shirt off, throw the ball and get like $50,000 in fines. And then I’ll think, ‘Mouse has arrived.’ I’m waiting for it too.”

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How a reporter's question doesn't tell you all he's up to

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Wednesdays are the biggest day of a reporter’s work week for those who cover an NFL team.

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It features the first conversations we have with the coach and players that are forward-facing more than looking back. It’s the first guys can speak about an opponent having done some homework and seen some game plan.

It’s the first time a lot of players are available since the post-game locker room. And in addition to Mike Mularkey’s chat, we get our weekly time with Marcus Mariota.

I asked a question of Mariota yesterday and it drew a response on Twitter that prompted me to come here and write a little about the process of working a team and a locker room.

Outside of a post-game press conference, it’s a relatively new development that a coach or star player’s session with the media in an informal setting is broadcast live.

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