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VOL. 40 | NO. 41 | Friday, October 7, 2016

Mularkey sees improvement – just not enough

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Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is among those players who need to show more consistency. The Titans have a five-game stretch, beginning Sunday at Miami, that might allow him to build confidence.

-- Ap Photo/Eric Christian Smit

So how much improvement has there been with the Tennessee Titans this season?

The bottom line shows a 1-3 record, the same as the past two seasons that produced only a combined five wins in 32 games.

But Titans coach Mike Mularkey insists the 2016 edition of the Titans is a much better product than what has been put on the field the previous few years.

“I would say if you don’t see it, then you really don’t have any idea about football, about the NFL,” Mularkey says. “I think it’s different.”

Different? Yes. Improved? Probably. Satisfactory? Not at all.

Not yet anyway.

These Titans are somewhat better. In 2014 and ‘15, they lost 16 games by double digits. To give you some idea of just how non-competitive that is, that is half the games they played in that span.

For a league that prides itself on parity and having most games decided in the fourth quarter by a touchdown or less, that is simply awful.

This season, the Titans have had their chances to win in every game but have only pulled through once in four tries.

Worse yet, they keep finding ways to lose, whether it was Marcus Mariota’s two turnovers for scores against the Vikings; Taylor Lewan’s costly penalty against the Raiders that nullified a first-and-goal or the special teams fiasco Sunday against the Texans that got Bobby April fired.

There have been other contributing factors in each game, but those are just the most egregious issues that have played a part in the Titans’ downfall.

“Losing is losing,” Lewan says. “Of course, there’s horseshoes and hand grenades, and that’s it.

“But we need to do the little things. As a team, as a whole, we are better. Our record does not show that. We need to do the little things consistently.”

Mularkey agrees that it may no longer be a matter of not being able to compete. Instead, it’s not being consistent enough to put 60 minutes of winning football together.

“There’s a few plays – four or five plays a game – that have made a difference in the outcomes of these games,” Mularkey says. “I know in the last two years, if we’d have been down 14 points in Houston, that would not have been a pretty outcome.

“This team is competing with every team that we’ve played and had a chance to win every game we’ve played. We’ve got to find a way to win them. We’ve got to find a way to win the close ones.”

If the Titans are truly improved, then now is the time for that theory to take root.

Yes, we know that coaches and players talk about taking it one game at a time, but we’re going to be bold here. It’s time for the Titans to take it multiple games a time.

Even at 1-3, they are entering a soft portion of their schedule. Over the next five weeks, beginning Sunday in Miami, Tennessee does not face a team with more than one win to its credit. After the Dolphins, the Titans return home to face the Browns, Colts and Jaguars before going back on the road to take on the Chargers.

Those five teams are a combined 4-16 on the year.

The good news is that those are all winnable games even for a team that hasn’t won two in a row in more than two years.

The bad news, of course, is that each of these struggling teams on the schedule are probably looking the Titans in the exact same way – a winnable game on the schedule against Tennessee.

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com

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