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Personnel people: Quick view of Titans and Texans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – I texted this week with two personnel men from other teams asking if they rate the Titans as better than the Texans at this point and to what degree.Together

“It's going to come down to can TEN OL win vs HST DL/ which QB plays the best,” wrote the first. “Can HST OL give their QB time may be the biggest question of them all. I lean TEN.”

Said the second: “Titans playing more consistently on defense & have offensive identity established. Obviously when u know who ur qb is, you progress more quickly. Ten ol significantly better.”

They are saying just what you’d expect going into this game.

The question is will they be saying the same after it.

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The Titans best player through three games is...

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Last year he wasn’t in the nickel package.

Now he shouldn’t be leaving the field.WoodyardDiveSEA

In my estimation, inside linebacker Wesley Woodyard is the best player on the Titans defense through three games, perhaps the best player on the team.

He’s been flying around, getting involved in everything.

He’s got 38 tackles, 11 ahead of the next best guy, Avery Williamson. Four of Woodyard’s tackles were for a loss, one for a sack.

Jurrell Casey was understandably unwilling to say Woodyard is the best player on the Titans’ defense right now.

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How first-half failure helped set up big play for the Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Watching the Titans' offense go three-and-out four times in a row Sunday against the Seahawks, it was hard to find many positives.

But for the second consecutive game, bad offense in the first half included chances to test how the opposition responded to certain sets and helped set something up for later.FullSizeRender 40

“We’ve got things that we’ll do on the first drive to set up something that we might now do until the third quarter,” offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie said. “Sometimes you might get to it a little quicker.

“But are certain things, certain formations, certain packages of personnel that we might put in. We may have a play where we say, ‘This is going to be a (deep) shot.’ Well we might want to do it out of three tight ends. We might put that formation in in the first 10 or 12 plays. Put it out there, let's see how they play it, ok, that’s it, they are doing what we thought they would do.”

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Jack Conklin carries momentum into matchup with J.J. Watt

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – At key moments in Sunday’s Titans at Texans game, Tennessee won’t be able to scheme up and protect Marcus Mariota with extra people.ConklinSEA

Houston will bring people forward, putting five men on the line and forcing the Titans to block J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus one-on-one.

And that’s where we may learn the true story of the Titans at this stage: Strength-on-strength against the two-time defending AFC South champs.

“All five guys are across from our five linemen,” coach Mike Mularkey said. “You see it much more when you’ve got the personnel. Oakland, that’s Oakland’s scheme first, second and third down. They’re going to put five guys up there and you’ve got to block them.

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Escorted runs opening things up for Marcus Mariota

MariotaRunSEANASHVILLE, Tenn. – Marcus Mariota’s run 16 times through three games, for a total of 77 yards. The non-scrambles have been safe, smart runs and they feel like an enhanced feature of the Titans’ offense.

Coach Mike Mularkey said that on some, but not all, of Mariota ground gains, the Titans try to create what FOX broadcaster Charles Davis called “escorted runs.”

The Titans have to be clever when calling those plays for their quarterback without telegraphing that someone is about to lead Mariota.

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The solution to the NFL’s pregame problem

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Fair or not, the repercussions the NFL and its players will feel as a result of protests during the national anthem are potentially severe, and they aren’t going away.FLAG 1

I thought things would calm down, but the phones have been ringing like crazy at the Titans' ticket office and a good share of fans appear to be ready to follow through with pledges to stop going to games and to stop watching them. I’ve heard about some ramifications for players with marketing opportunities as well.

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How often the Titans used tight formations against Seattle, and what they did out of them

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans seem to line up a great deal on offense in tight formations, without much of a perimeter presence at the snap.

At least that was my thinking from watching their first three games.

I went through their 33-27 win over Seattle on Sunday at Nissan Stadium to get a better sense of how they did, and didn’t, spread out to learn if my general feeling aligned with the evidence.HuddleSEA

Every play was included in my review, even if it was undone by penalty.

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