Marcus Mariota, Titans find comfort zone in defining win

By blainebishop
Oct. 17, 2016

Things didn't necessarily go smooth down the stretch for the Tennessee Titans, but finally hitting the .500 mark after beating the Cleveland Browns shows the growth we've been waiting to see.

On a day when DeMarco Murray struggled early, quarterback Marcus Mariota rushed for 64 yards, just one shy of Murray and needing just seven carries to Murray's twenty one. Mariota's running ability is playing a larger factor in keeping defenses off balance. He also rushed seven times last week against Miami for 60 yards. It's necessarily coincidence that Mariota has also thrown for three scores in both games as well, finishing with his two highest passer ratings of the season.

It's easy to forget the Oregon product is just in his second year and he's only been playing under Mularkey's system since November of last year. That said, it looks like Mariota is settling into this offense. We've also seen him stretch the field the last two weeks and connect on deeper routes. This was one of his weaker areas also showing progression. He is still showing the tendency to make some errant throws or force things trying to make a play, especially on timing routes. If there's anything to critique about this week's performance, it was those few plays he's sure to examine.

Defensively, the team played a solid but tight game at points. The defense racked up six sacks, but there was some sloppy play to be tightened up. Special teams was once again in the spotlight after allowing the Browns to recover an onside kick and they defense was fooled on the ensuing drive by a screen play.

If the Titans are going to continue their growth, they can't let teams hang in there. Once they were up 28-13, that should have been the time to put the nail in the coffin. Instead, they allowed the Browns to score 13 straight and put the outcome of this game on the line. Another key moving forward is the turnover differential. You'll hear coaches preach this all the time and it is even more important for a young team finding their way.

The good news is the Titans seem to be finding their way. In just six games, they have matched their win total for all of 2015 and surpassed their 2014 total. Bottom line, this was a good team win. This is what we've been waiting to see from this franchise. Now, let's hope they can show us something we haven't seen in a while...a winning record.