Mid-Week Take: Titans vs. Texans


Another Titans win. Another lackluster performance. However, something very different happened in this game... the crowd at Nissan Stadium had a heartbeat. With the game very much in doubt,  the Texans on the move, and the Titans were putting up a valiant effort, the Titans' fanbase rose to their collective feet, causing such a deafening roar that the Texan offensive linemen were confused into three straight false start penalties. This extra 15 yards wasn't enough to end the drive, but it did show the Titans players and coaches that this once proud fanbase has risen from a long slumber.

Running Game

The running game sputtered, but started like a 1970's Beetle; once it starts the reliability is undeniable. Both Murray and Henry carried the ball 11 times, and were both effective in different ways. Murray had flashes of his slashing runs to gain 66 yards (6.0 yards per carry). Henry had minimal gains until his burst of 75 yards at the end of the game where Mariota pitched him the ball in a misdirection to the left. He ended the day with 109 yards (9.9 yards per carry) and a touchdown, breaking the 100-yard barrier for the 2nd time. Mariota also added 23 yards on 3 carries (7.7 yards per carry) and a touchdown. The running game amassed 198 yards; the highest total for the season. Although this total was perhaps overly bolstered by the 75 yard run at the end of the game, it was more than pleasing to see this part of "Exotic Smashmouth" produce something besides 2 yards and a cloud of dust.

Mistake-Free Mariota

Mariota had his first interception-free game since week 7 vs. Cleveland, and he did show some flashes of running the ball with aggression. However, with the exception of Delanie Walker (and perhaps Eric Decker), he has yet to find a real connection with any of his wide receivers. Corey Davis is coming along, but with all honesty appears to need work on his toughness. Taywan Taylor has great speed and elusiveness, but rumors abound that he is not learning the system like he should. Rishard Matthews is an excellent receiver, but there is nothing that really shows a true connection between him and Mariota. I'm not sure this is something that can be solved this season. Most likely needs to happen is an offseason workout between Mariota and one or more of his receivers. If he is the leader we hope we drafted, this will also be in his mind as well.

Defensive Successes

On the other side of the ball, the Titans' defense continues to improve from the last few seasons. The run defense can only be described as "Madden-esque". I can't remember the last time I saw some many tackles for a loss or little-to-no gain. With 14 tackles from the defensive line and an addition 25 tackles added by the linebackers, the defense continues to deny quality running backs from having a big day. On top of that, the defensive backs are immensely better than they were just last year. As much as it pains me to say this, even Brice McCain has improved to the point of not making game-killing errors. This alone is a minor miracle performed by the Dick LeBeau scheme. The defense isn't great yet, but they are definitely very good. I am a firm believer of the old saying, "Offense sells tickets, defense wins championships." If we keep this up, then the Titans can expect to see the playoffs more often in the future.


This team has yet to put together a complete game by all 3 phases, but maybe this team is built in such a way that as long as two phases are performing the Titans can come away with another win. The one thing that no one can deny is this team has come together to find ways to win where, in the past, they would have folded like a house of cards. This has translated into an excitement in the fanbase that is coming to a crescendo at the right time. Right now, all I can say is #TitanUp!


315 - Titans @ Colts Review & Titans vs Texans Preview


314 - Titans @ Steelers Review & Titans @ Colts Preview


Mid-Week Take: Titans @ Steelers


The 6-3 Titans travelled to Pittsburgh for Thursday Night Football to face the 7-2 Steelers in a battle of divisional 1st place teams, in hopes that they can prove to the rest of the nation that they are ready to be taken seriously. However, the Titans created more mistakes than successes. In fact, at times, they appeared to fill this game with more mistakes than most teams have in 5 games.

Mariota Mistakes

Mariota was 22 completions of 33 attempts for 306 yards and 1 TD. These are great numbers... except he also threw a total of 4 interceptions. He also only 5 yards on 5 carries (with a TD) and was sacked 5 times. This was by far the worst performance of Mariota's young career. Although he willing took full responsibility for all 4 of the miscues, there is sufficient evidence that only one of those was completely his fault. Mariota already has a tendency to throw high in most cases, overthrew Rishard Matthews by 10 yards (at least). This might be attributed to his excitement for playing on the big stage, but if he wants to be considered at the upper levels he must get over these nerves.

A Tale of Two Halves

The first half it seemed as though the Titans offense didn't get off the bus. For their first drive of the game Mariota throws an interception. That is followed up with a 3-and-out, a Mariota run for a TD, a blocked FG, another 3-and-out, another Mariota interception, and finishes off the half with yet another 3-and-out. This offensive fiasco was topped off with an almost inept running game with 42 total yards rushing. (Adoree Jackson: 5 yds, DeMarco Murray: 3 yds, Marcus Mariota: 7 yds, and Derrick Henry: 32 yds). Fortunately, the offense got (slightly) better in the 2nd half.

Unfortunately, the defense didn't come out of the locker room for the second half, allowing 24 points (17 in the 4th quarter alone). The pass defense was particularly poor allowing all 3 Pittsburgh TDs to be scored by Roethlisberger passes (2 to Brown and 1 to Hubbard). As a Titans' fan we have seen the secondary allow many strong performance by opposing QBs, but Roethlisberger's numbers were especially damaging on the night; 30 completions on 45 attempts for 299 yards and 4 TDs. Yes, both Roethlisberger and Brown are top level in their positions, but if the Titans hope to change the minds of the football watching nation, they must step up and perform on the national stage. Obviously this was not the time for this team to make the breakthrough.

No Answers

Let's be honest here, the Titans got punched in the mouth by the Steelers and couldn't get off the mat to respond. This is what we've seen from the team in previous seasons, and they appeared to fall back on previous ways. This team struggles to keep every player in the game plan. Even according to Coach Mularkey, they there are players that don't "trust" the plan. If the plan is sound, good teams stick to the plan. Great teams stick to the plan especially when they are losing. However, this team tends to scatter in random directions when things are not going their way. In my opinion, this is when the leaders on your team need to step up and help guide everyone back into the fold. This team can still not only make the playoffs, but win a playoff game, but playing within the plan is of the utmost importance.

Some Positives

  • Rishard Matthews continues to be an unheralded positive addition to this team. He had 5 catches for 113 yards and 1 TD. If the rest of the WRs can get on the right page, then this passing game would be one of the best in the league.
  • Adoree Jackson is quickly becoming one of my favorite players on the team (and not on special teams). He 11 tackles and a forced fumble. He is by far the best thing that has come out of this rookie class.
  • Even with the uncharacteristic drop in the end zone, Delanie Walker continues to put up All-Pro numbers. He had 6 catches for 92 yards against the Steelers.


Here is another bit of honesty. Although in the podcast I picked a Titans victory (24-23), I counted this game as a loss at the beginning of the season. Yes, this loss was embarrassing because it was on prime time, but if I look at the rest of the season I believe there is a real reason to be hopeful. I think this team can go 10-6 at minimum, and a good chance to go 11-5. Unfortunately, the biggest competition is the Jaguars, and they have a powder-puff schedule for the remainder of the season. It might just come down the week 17 when the Jags come into Nashville to face our beloved Titans.


313 - Titans vs Bengals Review & Titans @ Steelers Preview