Oct. 17, 2016
Titans taking stock after loss to Texans
As with most weeks, the Tennessee Titans had a chance to win their Week 4 matchup against the Houston Texans but were unable to capitalize on their opportunities.
The loss was highlighted by a punt return by Texans wideout Will Fuller in the third quarter, which on Monday resulted in the firing of Titans special teams coordinator Bobby April.
However, there was plenty of blame to go around in this loss. It's important not to forget the Texans raced to a 17-3 point lead in the first quarter, putting the Titans in the position of playing catch-up most of the game.
Mariota frequently tried to do to much, highlighted by throwing on the run across his body in the second quarter while trying to connect with Delanie Walker, only to be intercepted. While the pick was negated by Jason McCourty's interception the next Houston drive, it's a reflection of the struggles Mariota continues to face this year. He's totaled just 4 touchdowns and five interceptions through four games and has a completion percentage of 58.8 percent.
Houston might be among the league's top defenses, but once again, the wide receivers could not create separation. With the game on the line and over 4 minutes left, the Titans had three straight incompletions. In Houston territory and needing just six yards to convert, Andre Johnson and Anthony Fasano could not get enough separation to haul their passes in. Regardless of the debate over whether or not pass interference should have been called, we've seen the same situation each week. Mariota is trying to force things and make a play, which when combined with tight windows, is not going to end well.
There were some positives.
We finally saw Mariota connect on the deep ball, if only for once. The play of Perrish Cox and Jason McCourty was second-to-none, with both players coming up with a key interceptions that kept the Titans in the game. It's worth noting one of the best receivers in the game -DeAndre Hopkins- was held to just one catch for four yards.
There was also the continued reliability of DeMarco Murray, who continues to carry this team on his back each week. As proven the last two weeks however, he needs help to build on his consistently strong performances. Perhaps no other player in the league is as important to his team as Murray is to the Titans right now.
There is promise on this Titans team and despite the loss, they are at least keeping things close. Unfortunately, close is not going to cut it. That's why you see Mularkey making the move to part ways with his special teams coordinator. The Titans are taking stock of their current situation and it likely won't stop with Adams. If this team is going to take the next step, each player needs to look at themselves for improvement. Just one more step in the right direction could have made the difference on Sunday.