Scout's take: 'If the Titans are going to have a pass rush, this is the week'

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special contributor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. –  With the Jacksonville Jaguars on the horizon in Week 3, it is crucial for the Titans to fix their issues versus a division opponent in the Houston Texans.

The Titans offense will be without Delanie Walker for the remainder of the season. Without him, it is important to find a player or a position group that the Titans can rely on. 

Currently, that is the running back position.

With two quality backs in Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry, the Titans have two guys with different skill sets. It will be important to utilize their talents against that Texan defense.VrabelWatt

(Photo courtesy Houston Texans)

Lewis can take advantage of the aggressive pass rush of the Texans in the screen game and work to get him matched up with Bendarick McKinney the Texans big and powerful inside linebacker. 

The Texans would prefer to match Lewis vs. inside linebacker Zach Cunningham or a combination of safeties with Kareem Jackson or

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Minus Delanie Walker, how different will defensive coverage be?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With the Titans ready to start life after Delanie Walker, I initially thought it would mean drastic changes in the coverage the offense faces.

But after talking with coaches, scouts and analysts, I’ve concluded things won’t be as different as I imagine.

Walker was unquestionably the Titans most threatening weapon, and he drew the most attention.WalkerThroatCIN

We tend to overestimate the frequency of the double teams he faced, however, as well as the number of guys in the league who warrant double teams.

I asked Mike Vrabel how often he goes into a game with the intention of double-teaming a guy throughout.

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YAZOO PODCAST: Mike Herndon discusses Marcus Mariota's timing, Quinton Spain's great start, much more

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- We tend to split writers into mainstream and non-mainstream baskets, but I am not sure that's the best way to break us down, at least when it comes to football writers.

In my eyes, a reporter like me with access and credentials brings a lot, but a fan with a solid football background in 2018 can certainly offer some excellent breakdowns and analysis.PodcastYazooArtSquare

We really supplement each other.  I am a fan of much that I read from places like Music City Miracles (though I object when some write under a pseudonym.) If you're not familiar with Mike Herndon's work, you should be.

We joined me for this week's edition of the podcast.

We discuss Quinton Spain as the Titans' best offensive lineman in Miami, the Derrick Henry-Dion Lewis backfield, less-than-stellar tight-end blocking, the playoff hit rate of 0-2 teams, camera angles, paying it backwards, the potential for Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry to make an impact against Houston, and, of course, Marcus Mariota's timing.

(I previously wrote Kevin Spain. He's an old friend in the business. My apologies.)

Part 1, like podcast versions of my public Periscope and Facebook Lives, will be available through iTunes, here, or directly through the Vokal website, here. Feel free to hook us up with a rating and review on iTunes.

If you're a member of the site, Part 1 and Part 2 are together, and all you have to do is head below the line. 

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RefGeneric

The cool-down period is over, the coaches have talked, the quarterbacks have spoken, players pulling on their ties and folding down their collars or sliding their feet into flip-flops have answered questions.

All of them are held to account.

Simultaneously, the officials clean themselves up and gather their things. But they leave the stadium in the shadows, answering for nothing.

The only way we hear from them is if a media member requests a pool report about something specific in the game.

And those are typically disasters, where tape recorders are stacked up and protocols are followed that all but ensure no meaningful answers. I resist asking for them, because a pool reporter has to waste his post-game in the name on nonsense.

We know the consequences of being poorly graded, in-house, are grades and rankings that can cost zebras playoff game assignments. But let’s say, hypothetically, officiating is poor league-wide. The best of the worst get the most important games and the worst of the worst have their season’s end early. There is pride involved there, and maybe money.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Last year the Titas failed to win the AFC South because of a failure in Miami, which was largely determined by an incomplete pass by Matt Cassel being ruled a fumble and getting returned for a touchdown.

We're a long way off from knowing the fate of the 2018 Titans, but it's possible they look back on a bad call in Miami messing them up again.

William Hayes third-quarter hit on Marcus Mariota that messed up his elbow should have been a penalty, the NFL told Mike Vrabel. Mariota said Hayes told him after the game he didn't mean to hit him low.

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Reviewing the debatable calls and no calls the Titans dealt with in Miami

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Referee Jerome Boger and his crew were overy influential in the Titans’ opening-day loss at Miami.

I don't like to put things on officiating, but it was increasingly bad and Boger lived up to his poor reputation.

Let’s review the main moments for him and his crew: umpire Bill Schuster, down judge Mike Carr, line judge Rusty Baynes, field judge Dale Shaw, side judge Jonah Monroe, back judge Tony Steratore and replay official John McGrath.

Game time: 10:29 left in the first quarter, no score.

Situation: Third-and-4 from the Miami 28.

IMG 4676What happened: Marcus Mariota threw deep into the left side of the end zone where Taywan Taylor was running with corner Bobby McCain. The defender tugged on Taylor’s arm as the two dived, but Taylor still had the ball in both hands and should have held on to it for a TD. There was no pass interference call and the Titans settled for a 47-yard field goal.

Vrabel said: “I thought the guy came early. I asked (down judge) Mike (Carr), I said, ‘Mike did you think?’ He said, ‘No, I thought it was bang, bang.’ And I thought the guy came early. But we have to do a better job of executing those and hitting some of those big plays when we get an opportunity.”

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Game time: 14:01 remaining in the second quarter, Titans leading 3-0.

Situation: First-and-10 from the Miami 44.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans botched plenty on their own in Miami, and simply didn’t play well enough to start the Mike Vrabel era with a win.

Generally, I want to steer clear of officiating complaints, as I am a believer that things even out. But they weren’t even and didn’t even out for Tennessee in Week 1.

Brian Orakpo said the way the NFL is now officiated has changed the way he plays.OrakpoProfile

“You used to err on more aggressive, but the one time you err on more aggressive you get called and it just ruins that possession and that is an automatic first down, tack another 15 and you not only put the team in a bind, you put the defense in a bind because now you have to play some more plays,” he said.

“It’s just a tough scenario, man. The NFL is getting tougher and tougher to judge each and every year. I wonder how long this league is going to last, honestly."

Orakpo said he loves the player safety but says the frequent calls hurt drives, possession, momentum.

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Scouting notes: Jonnu Smith is not ready to take over for Delanie Walker

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- This was a disastrous game for the Titans in so many ways. The loss was the most insignificant thing of all that transpired on Sunday.

They endured the length of the game, injuries to arguably the three best players on the Titans’ roster and the inconsistency from both the offense and defense. 

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The unfortunate realization is the team will be without the Titans’ best offensive weapon in Delanie Walker going forward. Others will have to step up and young players that needed to grow and develop will now be doing that playing in a prime position.

Marcus Mariota started hot in the game. He used the short passes and the run game to control the clock while moving the ball downfield. Unfortunately, the team was only able to come up with 3 points on those first two drives. 

The fourth-and-goal stop by the Dolphins ended up being the momentum swing they needed. The offense took over and started to wear down the Titans’ defense down with a short-passing game and a mixture of inside and outside runs. It all produced a 98-yard touchdown drive. 

The Titans’ decision to go for it on fourth down was a gamble that didn’t pay off. The play call was tough because it was a one-option pass route. Mariota said afterward he needed to put Corey Davis in better position to take the catch into the end zone.

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