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

Titans at Dolphins: What to watch

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Let Mariota play. Marcus Mariota looks tentative, even hesitant at times, and doesn’t appear to be playing with the same poise and confidence that he did a year ago. It is affecting his play on the field with bad decisions and costly turnovers.

I get that the Titans want to run the football with DeMarco Murray – they should. But they have to find a way to better incorporate what Mariota does well, which is the shotgun formation, a bit of the spread and designed rollouts with what they are doing to get their quarterback back on track.

Pay attention to everything. The Titans have done a great job this season of taking away their opponents’ top weapons. They held Adrian Peterson to 31 yards rushing, and on Sunday held DeAndre Hopkins to one catch.

The problem is they may be robbing Peter to pay Paul because there is so much attention heaped upon the opposing team’s stars that other players like Minnesota’s Stefon Diggs and Houston’s Will Fuller have burned them for big days.

Shore up special teams. After Monday’s firing of special teams coach Bobby April, Steve Hoffman will now be in charge of a group that Mike Mularkey said had not progressed over the past couple of years.

The Titans need a big play or two on special teams, and they have to stop giving those plays up, as well as stopping the penalties.

Avoid big deficits. The Titans have trailed by two scores at some point in every game this season. For a team that is somewhat offensively challenged when it comes to big plays, it is amazing they have been able to stay in games and have a chance to win. Playing with a lead, rather than from behind, would be a big step in the right direction.

Matchups to watch

Ryan Tannehill vs. Dick LeBeau. LeBeau’s defense has been good at times this season. Tannehill is prone to inconsistency, and the Titans need to harass him into mistakes.

Ndamukong Suh vs. Quinton Spain. Suh is still one of the most prominent defensive linemen in the game, and Spain, who has graded well in run-blocking, will have a chore this week. That chore extends beyond just Spain, as the Dolphins can move Suh around, meaning Ben Jones and Josh Kline could see Suh lined up in their gap on occasion, as well.

Perrish Cox and Jason McCourty vs. Jarvis Landry. The Titans secondary has held up better than expected early in the season. Landry is the Dolphins’ top pass receiving target, and Tennessee needs to hold him in check on Sunday as they have Hopkins and Amari Cooper in recent weeks

-- Terry McCormick

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