With general manager Jon Robinson working behind the scenes to revamp the culture inside the building, players claim this year feels different than all the rest.
“Everybody is buying into the philosophy of what (coach) Mike Mularkey is selling. That’s good,” said tight end Delanie Walker, per TitansInsider.com. “We all in this locker room are tired of losing. So I think guys are really buying into this system, trying to figure out what we can do to change that mind-set, being able to finish. It’s early now, but I can see it evolving to where guys are really going to start to understand the offense and making right decisions to put us in great situations.”
This was a game of missed opportunities for the Chiefs. They were stuffed twice on the goal line in the first half, including a fourth-down try by Spencer Ware. Alex Smith’s awful third quarter interception in the end zone helped turn the game around. After a fantastic first half by Smith, the Chiefs offense was scoreless after halftime.
After Smith’s pick, the Chiefs picked up a total of 30 yards in their next three drives. When push came to shove, needing three yards to ice the game late, Reid called for an option run by Smith rather than a throw. It was a safe call and safe didn’t work against the Titans.
I got a chance to play with Blake and cheap jerseys china and McCain in Pittsburgh, and I’m not surprised they’ve continued to play under coach Dick LeBeau. Blake (or “Zilla,” as we called him in Pittsburgh) hasn’t made a start this season but has played in 13 games, giving up catches on 48 percent the targets thrown his way (at 11.2 yards a pop). He always seems to be around the ball and positions himself well, but he just needs to finish and make more plays. McCain runs like a deer and has great feet. He reminds me of a younger Terence Newman and is another guy who puts himself in good position to make plays. For Blake, who’s somewhat struggled and given up six touchdowns this season, the key is tackling and finishing plays when he has the opportunity.
This group is facing a Chiefs offense that ranks just 24th in total yards, but the rise of rookie Tyreek Hill has garnered a lot of attention. He leads all rookies in targets (40), receptions (34) and receiving yards (313) since Week 10, and Hill is the first player in the Super Bowl era with a receiving, rushing, kickoff and punt return for touchdown in his rookie season. If the Titans want to stall Hill and the other Chiefs receivers (Jeremy Maclin and Chris Conley), they must tackle and and stay on top of the receivers. Tennessee’s corners can afford to give up short, immediate completions, but not deep plays. As far as star tight end Travis Kelce is concerned, it’s likely he’ll be covered by a safety in this contest.
Marcus Mariota suffered a fractured fibula in the third quarter of Saturday’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, coach Mike Mularkey told reporters. He is out for the remainder of the season and will undergo surgery in the coming days.
The Tennessee Titans quarterback had an air cast placed on his right leg after his foot was bent awkwardly on a sack by Jags defensive lineman Sheldon Day.
Blake Bortles made his case to the next coaching staff to keep the Jaguars’ quarterback gig. The enigmatic signal-caller played his best game of the season, hitting quick strikes over the middle and finally finding the mark on several downfield tosses. Bortles finished 26-of-38 passing for 325 yards, one TD throw, and zero interceptions. It was his first time throwing for 300-plus yards in a Jags victory (had been 0-10 when throwing for more than 300 yards). Facing a bad Titans secondary that was missing top corner Jason McCourty certainly helped. Bortles’ wonky delivery still causes problems (see the first-half fumble), especially on sideline throws, but he was able to move the chains on third down and allowed his receivers to make plays. The quarterback even caught his first NFL pass, a 20-yard touchdown from Marqise Lee to ice the game.
Getting Allen Robinson involved early was key for Bortles. In his previous five games, Robinson compiled 105 total yards. Saturday, A-Rob went for 147 yards on nine receptions (12 targets). Robinson corralled receptions of 37, 28, 21, 18 and 16 yards. When Robinson is making plays for Bortles, the Jags can be a potent offense. Games like Saturday leave you shaking your head, wondering how the duo could post so many woeful afternoons this season.
The Broncos’ loss drops them to 8-5, leaving the AFC’s No. 6 seed wide open. If Gary Kubiak’s squad misses the playoffs, they can pinpoint the run game on both sides of the ball as the primary culprits. Their championship defense allowed 140 or more yards on the ground just once last season — in mid-September. It has already happened five times this year, including 167 yards in just over two quarters of Sunday’s shellacking. Their rushing offense has regressed from mediocre to non-existent. Averaging fewer than 3.0 yards per carry since C.J. Anderson’s season-ending injury, rookie Devontae Booker took a backseat to a fading Forsett in the veteran’s Denver debut.
Riley Dixon’s fake-punt conversion late in the third quarter felt like a turning point for a Broncos offense that failed to cross midfield until just before halftime. Trevor Siemian found Demaryius Thomas deep down the sideline on the next play, then quickly snapped Denver’s 0-for-17 streak on third-down attempts. Despite a series of clutch Thomas catches and a career-high tying 11 receptions from Emmanuel Sanders, the Broncos couldn’t crack the goal line on two of three crucial possessions near the end zone. Overcoming a leaky secondary that has struggled mightily versus uptempo spread attacks in the fourth quarter of late, the Titans’ defense made key plays when it mattered.