I have no idea how the Tennessee Titans won this game. I watched it live, and then I re-watched it today…and I still have no idea. The Titans displayed the worst offense of any of the 32 teams this week…and that’s saying a lot because I’ve already re-watched Dallas and the Giants play this week.
Two terrible offensive minds, Chuck Pagano and Mike Mularkey, had a duel…and someone had to win. Both of them aching to get a lead so they could run the ball every play and try to milk the clock and still have said lead. That’s all 80% of the NFL teams do/want to do…get a lead and then sit on it and then pray to the clock gods to ‘hurry up’ an expire.
I will give Chuck Pagano this credit – no matter how bad his teams are talent-wise, and they’re bad and been without Andrew Luck for two years, essentially…the Colts always play hard and seem to overachieve. Their 3-8 record this season comes with several close call wins. Pagano is a good head coach, but bad at offense…and thus he’s half-a-coach and thus he’ll be fired and working for the Arizona Cardinals in some capacity soon.
Tennessee…I don’t know where to begin. I thought the Thursday Night Game versus the Steelers was not so great because the Steelers were jacked up at home. I watch them here, and consider the past few weeks of borderline dreadful performances…and I’m kicking myself for thinking there was more here. The Titans aren’t ‘good but poorly coached’…they’re mediocre, closer to ‘bad’ and poorly coached – and the schedule has saved them. The Titans are like the Chiefs – don’t ask “What’s wrong with the Titans/Chiefs?” Ask, “Why did we think they were any good early on this season?”
The Titans absolutely cannot run the ball…I mean, they are putrid the past 5-8 games. They can’t rely on Marcus Mariota because he’s playing half-asleep and trying to throw to ancient Eric Decker and Harry Douglas. The defense is a sieve, just fortunate to have been playing mostly bad teams. This team has been trying to tell me they’re bad but I wouldn’t listen. I’ve been trying to guess the turn coming…I need to embrace the darkness.
The funny thing is…the Titans are probably going to the playoffs, and thus you get another year of Marcus Mariota in this foolish ‘exotic smashmouth’ system. Tennessee is now 7-4 with this lucky win -- and given their schedule ahead they are likely to have at least a 2-3 finish, a 9-7 final record and one of the two wild-card spots. They have wins over BAL and CIN to help them with tie-breakers if needed.
It’s possible the Titans face the Jags in Week 17, down one game in the standings but in a position to win that game and win the division…not out of the question. Some bad teams are going to make the AFC playoffs this season…Tennessee should be one of them at 9-7/10-6.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Oh, boy…Marcus Mariota (17-25 for 184 yards, 1 TD/2 INTs). I held on for the last few weeks with him as a QB2 for this great schedule stretch?
Mariota had been a fringe QB1 (#10-13 ranked by PPG YTD) for most of the season…always finding a way to put up fantasy points even when his team/he didn’t seem to be playing all that well. Staring at IND-HOU-ARI-SF Weeks 12-15, I thought a good QB, proven producer last season, not bad this year…great schedule – it would be pretty decent. It started with this dud.
Throwing some bad picks against the Steelers…it happens. 4 INTs in a game…a couple bad luck ones, OK…I can forgive if the talent seems to be there. However, this game…this was just bad. His completions were sometimes bad. He had a beautifully lofted pass to Delanie Walker in early in the game…placing it in stride between 5 defenders. Then I stopped and thought…why the hell did he just throw a pass to a guy covered by 5 guys? I’m familiar with the teams double, triple, or quadruple covered…I don’t even know the word that should be used to describe covered by five guys. But he completed the Cinco de Mayo coverage pass nonetheless. It was a silly throw. It was the play called in the huddle because he threw it way ahead in anticipation…no read, just blind throw.
His two interceptions in this game…dumb. Half-ass throws. Feathery touch/soft velocity, baby throws. Jared Goff can fire passes flatfooted…but I’d recommend Marcus Mariota not do the same. I’ve seen Mariota fire darts, even in this game…but most of the time he had very gingerly thrown, flatfooted tosses. I don’t know if his hamstring is still an issue…that would explain a lot of it. I don’t know if it’s as Colin Cowherd suggests – Mariota is not a fiery, aggressive person/leader. Whatever it is – it’s not working of late/this year.
However, Tennessee is winning…so no changes coming. Mariota really needs to be in a college spread offense…and he’d be what Deshaun Watson was doing, some version thereof. Instead, he’s locked in a cage…some of/a lot of it the coach…some of it may be his hamstring.
I’m willing to entertain the hamstring issue because of this…
Pre-hamstring: 29.0 rushing yards, 0.75 rushing TDs per game…no game less than 24 yards rushing. He’s a runner…and that’s why I liked him in 4pts per pass TD leagues.
Post-hamstring…here’s his rushing yardage totals in each game: 0-8-6-51-5-4. He’s currently in the worst/lowest rushing production stretch of his career. It can’t be an accident. Tennessee has no prayer if Mariota gets hurt, so I’m assuming the coaches are keeping him in a box and not letting him run. I thought they would try to win the division by any means necessary, but I think they think they’d better play it safe.
If Mariota’s not running…I’m not interested.
I’m taking down Mariota’s projections for the rest of season.
I’m dropping Mariota in the dynasty stash rankings. We’ve been through 3 seasons of Mariota getting hurt, us sitting around wondering if he’s going to run in particular games...I’m a little sick of it. The team is winning, so their terrible coach is staying for another season. He needs to be running wild in a spread, but he’s also a skinny QB so there’s a reason stop him from running. Mariota is fulfilling the prophecy from our CFM scouting – ‘C+/B‘ talent, only interesting when he’s running. The problem is – he’s likely to be on a leash from running or getting hurt…so, with so many other great QBs coming into the league, I don’t need to mess with a non-running/oft-injured Mariota. I like him. He’s a good QB…he’s just not great, never was. He’s a great runner…but that’s being taken away.
If he starts running again, I’ll do a 180 on this subject.
-- At least I got one thing right in this game – DeMarco Murray (12-9-1, 3-33-0/4) sucks more than whatever funny thing you could compare him to sucks. Oh my gosh, how awful…what happened to him? This is vintage 2015 DeMarco not sweet 2016 Murray goodness.
I have never seen an RB literally take a handoff and then go straight into the fetal position. He runs like he’s carrying Derrick Henry on piggyback with each carry. This was so bad, after a series of being so bad for weeks – Derrick Henry HAS to be ‘a thing’ now.
Here’s the thing…and this is why I have to bail on Mariota temporarily – Mike Mularkey keeps pushing Murray. The game-winning TD drive was Henry putting the team on his back and willing them down the field…and then at the goal line, after Henry just fought a herd and drove them to the 1-2 yard line – Mularkey slipped Murray in as a fullback and Henry at tailback…and gave the handoff to Murray for the score.
That is aggravating to the guy that did all the work, but that’s not why I point this out… Murray was so awful all game, no one in their right mind should have trusted him with a touch in a critical spot, especially after Henry was carving them up. Nope. Mularkey is addicted to Demarco.
Think about it. Every time people point out how bad Murray looks, and how his stats are awful, and they say ‘Henry to be more involved’ – it never happens. Murray is limping onto the field some weeks with a hamstring issue, and Mularkey still has him in limping through almost every key moment.
You go ahead and grab Henry but prepare to be pissed when you get 12 carries for 70 yards and no TDs while Murray has 7 carries for 2 yards and 3 TDs.
-- Corey Davis (4-39-0/4) is not going to become a breakout star on this offense…not in 2017. He’s missed too much time, he’s not preferred by Mariota (Rishard is), and this passing game has him running death routes…there’s no pizzaz or up-tempo or chemistry going on here. As long as Mularkey is there…it probably won't happen.
I mean…you’re facing the Colts, who lose their top/only CB early in the game and you’re missing Rishard Matthews, so Mariota has to go somewhere else…and Davis responded with 4 catches for 39 yards, on all of 4 targets. Tell me again that this guy is a breakout waiting to happen?
It’s not a comment on his talent…it’s a comment on this offense and baby punch throwing Mariota.
-- I thought Marlon Mack (4-11-0, 2-20-0/2) was going to be used like Alvin Kamara, and thus be an Alvin Kamara like PPR back producer the 2nd-half of the season. I especially thought this because I assumed the Colts would be losing a lot of games. Suddenly, in their last 4 games…the Colts are respectable. Last 4 games…had Cincy down late and blew it. Beat Houston. Had the Steelers beat and gave it away late. Had the Titans beat and gave it away late.
All these tight games have allowed Chuck Pagano to be every old-school coach in the league…try to sit on the lead running between the tackles (with Gore). That’s not Mack’s game. As the Colts got good, Mack’s touches died…which is brilliant because the Colts keep blowing most every game late.
If you think the Colts are going down in games big…Mack is a good gamble in PPR. If you think the Colts will play a tight game…you don’t want Mack because Pagano hates scoring more points with a lead, apparently. He would rather just hoard 16-17 points and hopes when he wakes up they’ve won.
-- Rashaan Melvin (1 PD) has been a revelation for the Colts…one of the main reasons this team has made a small turn to respectability. They lost him early in the game, and probably for the next week or two. Without him, the Colts are seriously dead. Jags best bet material next week.
Another IDP Colts note: Clayton Geathers played 4 snaps, got a sack nullified by penalty…and disappeared. I’m not sure his status but if he can’t go Week 13 and Melvin out too…the Colts D is seriously dead.
Snap Counts of Interest…
41 = Gore
20 = Mack
20 = Melvin
04 = Geathers
48 = Decker
42 = Corey Davis
14 = Douglas
09 = Taylor