Titans better after Mariota counsels receivers

Sep 26, 2017 - 5:49 AM NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The first four series of the Tennessee Titans' 33-27 victory over the Seattle Seahawks looked anything but promising Sunday. In each of those four series, the Titans went three-and-out and gave punter Brett Kern a leg up on earning player of the game honors.

Not only did the Titans run the ball in somewhat mundane fashion, quarterback Marcus Mariota began the game 1 of 7 for 6 yards.

But after that sluggish start, Mariota rebounded to finish 16 of 26 in the half for 129 yards, and was 20 of 32 for 225 yards and two touchdowns for the game, as the Titans scored on seven of their final eight possessions against the Seahawks defense.

So what changed and what adjustments did Mariota make to get the Titans and himself on track?

Apparently, it was a little sideline talk with his receivers, who were cutting their routes short in the early going, leading to a number of throws by Mariota that sailed high and wide of the mark early on.

"He did, he got the receivers to run really better routes," Titans head coach Mike Mularkey said. "Just like I've said before, if you're not where you're supposed to be and you don't run it the right depth, you can put all the blame on the quarterback. He's going to throw where you're supposed to be. We need to be more detailed."

When he watched the film Monday, Mularkey took special note of the first 12 plays and noted that eight of those 12 plays were unsuccessful because of mistakes his own team made, not by plays the Seahawks made.

"Those first 12 plays that we ran yesterday, when I watched the tape this morning I put a little asterisk, was it the Seahawks or the Titans that failed at executing the play? And eight of the 12 was us. Those are things we still need to clean up, especially when you're going to play a defense like that and like the one we have coming up here this week (against Houston)," Mularkey said.

After a coaching up from Mariota and the coaching staff, the Titans receivers got on the same page with their quarterback, who completed 19 of his final 25 throws for 219 yards and the two scores.

After Sunday's game, Mariota spoke of everyone being in sync.

"When we're able to do what we do and everyone is on the same page, and executing we're tough to stop," he said.


--PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Mariota began the game slowly - 1 of 7 - but part of that was because his receivers were rounding off routes and not getting to the right spot, leaving throws to sail high and wide. He and his receivers recovered nicely, though, as he finished 20 of 32 for 225 yards and two scores.

--RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- So much for Demarco Murray's hamstring injury, as he broke loose on a 75-yard rushing touchdown as part of a 112-yard day for him, and 195 yards on the ground for the team. Murray had missed most of the week nursing a sore hamstring but was a go on Sunday and had his first 100-yard rushing day of the season.

--PASS DEFENSE: B - Russell Wilson lit up the Titans for 373 yards on Sunday, and they sacked him just once, when Erik Walden got him in the first half. But the Titans did a better job than the numbers show of containing Wilson, who was on the run much of the day and throwing out of desperate situations. The Titans defense did OK, except for one blown coverage that allowed C.J. Prosise to gain 46 yards to the 4.

--RUSH DEFENSE: A -- A good solid day, but truthfully the Seahawks abandoned the run pretty early on. Seattle had just 69 yards on the ground and 26 of that came courtesy of Wilson running for his life.

--SPECIAL TEAMS: A-plus -- Nearly a perfect day on special teams, except for David Fluellen's block in the back that nullified Adoree' Jackson's punt return TD. Ryan Succop was perfect on four field goals and punter Brett Kern flipped the field a couple of times early before the offense could find its rhythm.

--COACHING: B-plus -- A good overall day with no real questionable play calls and a good job with both the offensive and defensive game plans, plus in making halftime adjustments that helped lead to 21 third-quarter points.

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