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Rivera: Titans’ smashmouth offense ‘can be a force’

Lewan’s ejection was the sixth of the season by referee Jeff Tripplett’s crew, by far the most in the NFL. After the game, Titans coach Mike Mularkey said he agreed with the decision to eject Lewan.

“It was the right call,” Mularkey said. “Taylor should not have been where he was. He should have been back in the huddle — no excuses. He shouldn’t have been there.”

The Houston Texans, last year’s winner, are breaking in a new quarterback, has a disgruntled No. 1 receiver, J.J. Watt — the team’s best player — remains banged up and the defensive front has serious question marks. The Indianapolis Colts are counting on a bounce-back season from Andrew Luck, but even if the offense returns to form, the defense enters the season with troubling issues, from a lack of playmakers to quality depth. The Jaguars have amassed immense talent, but can those young players form a cohesive winner behind Blake Bortles and cheap  nfl jerseys and a defense lacking cohesive experience?

The Titans own their own problems. Mariota’s receiving corps is littered with inconsistent and unproven players. The offensive line must rebound from a porous campaign. Tennessee is counting on a bounce-back season from DeMarco Murray — who last we saw ran like an upright piano was strapped to his back — and a power-back rookie in the backfield.

Abolish “Icing the kicker” forever, especially when it’s one degree outside. Chiefs coach cost his team the win in part because he called a timeout before Titans kicker Ryan Succop attempted a 53-yard field goal as time expired. Succop came up short on his first try, but nailed it the second time around after warming up. It capped an incredible fourth quarter by Marcus Mariota during which he led the Titans to three scoring drives to stun the Chiefs (10-4).

This is one to remember in Mariota’s development. In frigid conditions, Mariota rebounded from two poor turnovers to lead a 10-point fourth quarter comeback in Arrowhead. Tennessee’s 88-yard touchdown drive included two third-and-long conversions and another beautiful throw on fourth-and-5. Given 1:07 and no timeouts, Mariota calmly knew just where to go with the ball to set up the winning field goal. Now 8-6, this Titans squad has the look of a playoff team.jersye

It’s just the preseason — we get it — but after watching the club pile up 288 rushing yards at a wild 8.7 yards per carry, this year’s Titans have the league’s attention.

“When you watch what they’re doing on tape, you see them spread people out, move people around, shift in motion, and then they’re still running the ball,” said Panthers coach , per the team’s official website. “It is smashmouth, because there are a lot of inside runs, inside zone. You see some power plays, some counter plays, some gap-scheme stuff.”

The looked collectively hungover to start the game. With eight seconds remaining in the first quarter, Aaron Rodgers had one completed pass and the were being outgained 231 yards to 17 yards. Mike McCarthy’s team couldn’t get off the field on defense, consistently shot themselves in the foot with penalties, muffed a punt leading to a touchdown and Rodgers threw two interceptions. The muffed punt led to a Titans touchdown putting the down 35-10, the largest first-half deficit in any game started by Rodgers, per NFL Research. The Packers’ offense came to life for a spurt in the second quarter — with Rodgers tossing 13 straight completions at one point — but couldn’t keep pace with the magnificent Mariota.

The Green Bay defense entered the week allowing a league-low 75.8 rushing yards per game. DeMarco Murray almost equaled that total on his first tote. The running back took the Titans first play from scrimmage 75 yards untouched for a touchdown. On the next drive, Murray threw a touchdown pass to Delanie Walker. Murray finished with 17 carries for 127 rushing yards, a touchdown, two receptions for 33 yards and the 10-yard TD pass. The fresh running back easily outflanked a limp, injured Packers defense. Murray and Walker (nine receptions for 124 yards, TD) destroyed Green Bay’s will Sunday.

Said Mularkey: “He’s played, started games, he was in the second series against Tampa and played a good portion of the first half. I liked what he did there. Again, he’s very similar, in versatility (to injured Titans linemen Byron Bell and ). (But) if somebody better comes across the waiver wire, we’re going to go snag him if we can. We’re going to try to improve this roster every day.”

Make no mistake about it, Tuesday’s trade says much more about Tennessee’s lack of faith in Green-Beckham’s NFL future. You don’t ship away uber-talented physical specimens unless they’re nearly impossible to develop. His on-field inconsistencies and inability to grasp the playbook were no secret. The Titans lost patience and were willing to listen when the receiver-desperate Eagles came calling.