Entries in Marcus Mariota (11)

Thursday
Oct262017

310 - Titans @ Browns & Midseason Review

Thursday
Oct192017

309 - Titans vs Colts Review & Titans @ Browns Preview

Wednesday
Oct112017

Mid-Week Take: Titans @ Dolphins

 

The Titans travelled to Miami with high hopes of getting back on track against a Dolphins team that couldn't score. However, the Titans proved that they still had a hangover from the Texans game, losing to the Dolphins 16-10. This game more than any in recent history showed how much the Titans depend upon a healthy Mariota. 

Missing Mariota

Not only did Matt Cassel only produce 141 yards pass on 21 completions, he certainly wasn't a threat to run the ball. When he did appear he might take off and run the Dolphins defense pounced on the aging veteran to prove to him and the rest of us that he is no Mariota. He did throw for an improbable TD to Supernaw, but on another drive fumbled the ball away for a Dolphins TD. I will say that the offensive line had a lackluster performance partly due to the absence of Taylor Lewan for most of the game. However, Cassel looked like he had happy feet most of the game and his arm looked dead on several of his throws. Mariota also brings a quiet confidence to the huddle that exudes to the rest of the offense, and Cassel obviously doesn't contain this attribute.

Penalties

The Titans had an unusual amount of penalties in the game (11-77 yards), with many coming at crucial times. However, I cannot fault TE Jonnu Smith on the offensive pass interference call against him that took a TD off the board. In reviewing the replay there isn't a single person (other than Dolphins' fans) that would say that was OPI. However, this inopportune misfortune was the start of events that created a 14 point swing, with the Dolphins returning the aforementioned fumble for the TD two plays later. Smith was called for 3 penalties for 25 yards, Lewan - 3 for a total of 5 yards (2 were declined), Cassel - 3 delay of game penalties, Supernaw - 2 comical back-to-back false start penalties that ended in a TD catch, and Weems - 2 penalties for 15 yards. This team were not mentally in this game and it showed.

Defensive Success

The defense only allowed 10 points and 3 of those came on a short field when DeMarco Murray fumbled deep in Titans' territory. The defense was able to force 2 turnovers of their own, a fumble recovery by Byard (forced by Jackson) and an interception by Smith. However, the team was only able to gather one sack (Casey), but did harass Cutler for most of the game. They only allowed a total of 178 yards on the day, and seemed to clean up many of the issues from the previous week.

Special Teams

Although my prediction of a special teams touchdown didn't happen, there was plenty of praise to go around for them. Brett Kern is having a Pro Bowl year. He had 10 punts with a net average of 50 yards! Kicking from his own end zone, he had one punt that travelled around 71 yards and pushed the Dolphins back into their side of the field. Also, Ryan Succop had a record setting day, tying the NFL record for most consecutive FGs under 50 yards (46). Unfortunately, the return game didn't have a real chance to get going in this game which could have easily made the difference for the Titans.

Other Positives

 

  • Although Eric Decker only caught 4 balls for 34 yards, he was the leading receiver for the day. He also showed that he is starting to settle into the Titans offense nicely.
  • Kevin Byard's 2 takeaway in as many games proves he has a knack for being near the ball at the right time. I expect to see more takeaways coming his way soon.

 

Conclusion

Although this loss hurts more because it was a very winnable game, the Titans can get going in the right direction again with a win Monday night against a division foe in the Colts. This team has a real chance to catch the Colts at the right time without Andrew Luck and go 2-1 in the AFC South. However, there is one huge question that is still lingering in my mind that just might frame this season... With all the lingering, apparently minor injuries that are keeping players out of the lineup week after week, are the Titans too soft?

Tuesday
Oct032017

Mid-Week Take: Titans @ Texans

 

As much as I feel like the game against the Seahawks was an awakening for this organization, I equally feel like this game against the Texans was a huge step back. This type of game is hard not to sound the doom and gloom, but all is not lost. Yes, the Titans were beaten by over 40 points. Yes, it was against a divisional opponent. Yes, the defense played one of their worst game in several years. Yes, there didn't seem to be any adjustments during the game as it got further and further out of hand. However, there are 12 games left and they are still tied for 1st place in the division.

The Titans, once again, came off another emotional win, but ran into a juggernaut offense with DeSean Watson at the helm. The Titans' offense also must have thought that they needed to get all their turnovers for the season in this game. With 4 interceptions and one fumble, there was no way for the offense to mount any serious competition in the scoring department.

Mariota

Marcus Mariota had a rough day passing the ball (6 comp 10 attempts 96 yards 2 int). However, he had a good day running the ball (4 att 39 yards 2 TD). On the flip side of that, he injured his hamstring on the second TD run (and might have taken himself out for the next week or two.) This led to the complete breakdown of the Titans offense with the inability of Matt Cassell to come in and mount any sort of comeback (much less any offense) . In fact, Cassell accounted for 3 of the 5 Titans' turnovers. Mariota also still struggled with throwing to his right, and reverted back to lofting the ball too much on short-to-medium routes. Even with all these problems, and for a game where nothing seem to go right, Mariota remained one of the few bright spots.

Defensive Backs

Okay, so WTF was going on here? There was so few positive plays that it's almost not worth mentioning. However, I will nonetheless. Kevin Byard's interception was a long time coming, and proves that he is still progressing in this defense. The rest of the DBs were completely helpless. Why was Brice McCain covering DeAndre Hopkins when he couldn't cover their 4th WR much less Hopkins. Why were every Texans WR allowed to run free without being hand-checked at the line of scrimmage? Why did the DBs have so much trouble communicating during the Texans no-huddle offense? How did so many TEs and RBs roam free in the flats, allowing Watson to have a field day? Finally, how were the Titans' defensive coaching staff completely outwitted at every turn? These questions need to be solved before this Sunday's game against the Dolphins. 

Coaching Decisions

Speaking of poor decisions by the Titans' defensive coaches, the coaching staff as a whole let down this team. Offensively, the play calling seemed unimaginative for the most part and down right overly predictable in the first half of the game. The 1st quarter the Titans went 3-and-out on 3 straight drives. In the 2nd quarter the Titans woke up, scoring 2 TDs, but were already behind by 3 TDs at the start of the quarter. The game-plan at this point was out the window, and it seemed that the coaches weren't prepared to handle this scenario. Coming out from halftime, the Titans weren't ready to answer the call and reverted back to their 1st quarter performance. The 4th quarter ended up being a complete debacle, rounding out an utter breakdown of a poorly planned and poorly executed game plan.

Another Slow Start

The Titans had another game where their opening quarter was little more than an exercise in futility. They have only scored 10 points in the 1st quarter in 4 games with 0 points in the last 2 games. The Titans have proven that they can come back, but I would rather play with the lead instead of constantly counting on 2nd half heroics. 

Positive Takeaways?

 

  • Delanie Walker continues to prove that he is an elite TE. He had crucial catches in the game to give the team glimmers of hope.
  • Brett Kern is having a Pro Bowl type season. He average 48.4 yards on 5 punts.
  • Rishard Matthews makes some of the best catches on this team. He aggressively attaches the ball, high-pointing it better than this team has seen in the last 5 years. I see him being a bigger part of this offense once Corey Davis returns to take off some of the heat.

 

Conclusion

The Titans have the talent to win, but need better game plans and execution if they expect to make the playoffs this season. With the upcoming schedule, there is real potential to be 5-2 at the bye week. Facing the Dolphins away (1-2), Colts at home (1-3), and Browns away (0-4) is not as easy as it seems. So, don't go crazy Titans' fans. However, this might be our best shot in many seasons to pull away from the pack.

Tuesday
Sep122017

Mid-Week Take: Titans vs. Raiders

I've now had a few days to process the 2017 season opener, read fan thoughts and complaints, and heard all the "talking heads" theorize over what happened. Now, I guess it's my turn to chime in and give my analysis.

The Titans' fan base came into this game with the hopes of improvement and dreams of a playoff run, and many of what I heard from the hopefuls was that these were the same old Titans. However, this is not what I saw in the game. Yes, there were mistakes by players and the coaching staff, but if we look past the over inflated expectations and get real with ourselves, we will see that there are plenty of positive take-aways from this game (and therefore hope still exists for this season).

Season Opening Onside Kick

I'm not totally against this choice by the coaching staff. Historically, the Titans don't play well from behind, and against a high powered offense like the Raiders it would be better to have the first crack at taking the lead. Unfortunately, the special teams unit misfired on many levels in this play alone. Succop didn't get the ball to bounce in any meaningful way. The lead gunner didn't "blow up" the rookie returner like most onside kicks are designed. Finally, the coaching staff didn't educate the special teams unit thoroughly enough on the execution of this play. I don't care how many times you say "lack of execution" on the part of the players, it boils down to the coaching staff and preparation.

Titans Response/Opening Drive

The Titans' offense responded on a 12 play, 75 yard TD drive. They converted 3 - 3rd and longs, with passes of 19 yards (Matthews), 9 yards (Matthews), and 23 yards (Davis). Murray had 5 carries for 14 yards. Not impressive, but it was enough to keep the Raiders' defense respecting the Titans' run game. Finally, we saw that Mariota still has his legs and raced around the left side, with a sweet block by Delanie Walker, for 10 yards and the touchdown.

Marcus Mariota

Speaking of Mariota, some people looked at his day as "okay", but with many of what people are calling misfires were simply the lack of chemistry with his receiving corps and a few incorrectly run routes. Mariota had 24 completions on 41 attempts for 256 yards. The key number that wasn't in the stat line (other than TDs) is that he didn't turn the ball over. I venture to say that he may have never had a game where he threw the ball at least 40 times without any turnovers.

Running Game

There was a considerable drop-off in the "Exotic Smashmouth". The Titans only had a total of 95 yards rushing on 21 attempts. However, there were bright spots in a 21 yard gain from Murray, the Mariota TD run, and a nice little 8 yard carry from Henry. The problem in the game is that the Titans continued to get themselves in difficult 3rd down situations where the run game became less and less of an option. There was also a few poor choices in play calls by the coaching staff (like the call on 3rd and 2 from the 7 yard line). There was plenty of blame to go around in the failure of the running game. I still believe that this is something that can be more easily worked out before the Jaguars game.

Some Positives

  • Rishard Matthews came through with some timely catches. He had 5 catches for 71 yards, several to convert 3rd downs. He looks like he has picked back up from last season.
  • Although Corey Davis never took a snap in preseason, he showed us all that he is the real deal. He had 6 catches for 69 yards. His best catch of the day was for 23 yards, high-pointing the ball along the sideline and staying in bounds.
  • Delanie Walker is still a stud. He continues to show us all that he can play this game as long as he wants to play it. With 7 catches for 76 yards (and one killer block), he lead the team in catches and yards.
  • Adoree Jackson was picked on from the first play to the last, but the rookie hung in there. He had one pass interference call go against him, but two nice breakups with one of those taking away a TD. If that weren't enough for a rookie, a kick return that looked like an Olympic event was a beautiful thing to behold and tells us all that he will definitely break one for the distance at some point this season.

 One Final Negative

The Red Zone offense had trouble scoring touchdowns. Again, this appeared to be a combination of poor play calling combined with poor execution. Three times the Titans got into the Red Zone, but came away with only 1 TD and 2 FGs. With the much reported efficiency of Mariota in the Red Zone, he needs to be given more freedom to put the team on his shoulders and make a play.

Conclusion

No loss is a good loss, but this one came very close. We all have to admit to ourselves that this game was going to be a tough one to start the season. We also need to realize that this was only one loss in a 16 game season, and our next few games could catapult us to the top of our division. So, for all you fair-weathered Titans fans, stay tuned for the fireworks instead of falling asleep before it even gets dark.