NASHVILLE, Tenn. –Six thoughts after Thursday's 19-13 loss to the Jaguars.
Mariota takes on too much blame**
Rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota is a veteran when it comes to taking blame. Every time the team loses, he takes ownership, and suggests he should've done more to contribute to a win. On Thursday night, Mariota kicked himself for not getting rid of the ball on the game-ending sack. Mariota hasn't been perfect, but he's hardly been the problem. On the final play, for example, he was swarmed under because right tackle Byron Bell slipped while blocking Jaguars defensive end Andre Branch, who got to Mariota. There's no doubt Mariota has exceeded expectations during his rookie season, even when things haven't gone well around him.
David Cobb needs time
The moment Cobb was declared active for Thursday's game, questions immediately surfaced about his value in fantasy football. Start or sit? The answer on Thursday night was sit, and it's going to be until Cobb gets himself into football shape, or until fellow running back Antonio Andrews stumbles. Cobb is a talented runner, and in time I believe he's going to be a good one. But he's a work in progress, and right now Andrews is doing the job. Andrews had 78 yards on 15 carries against the Jaguars, while Cobb carried the ball four times for minus-3 yards. We'll see more of Cobb moving forward, but patience will be needed here.
Delanie Walker is a workhorse**
Walker might go down as one of the best free agent signings in team history. Walker arrived with the Titans in 2013, at a time when many thought the Titans should hold onto tight end Jared Cook. Cook signed a lucrative deal with the Rams, and the Titans ended up signing Walker instead. He's been invaluable. Walker leads the team with 53 catches for 617 yards, a year after leading the team with 890 receiving yards. He's a tough guy who never relaxes, and his approach sets a good example for the young players to follow.
What makes it tough: So close to 5-5
The Titans buried themselves early at Cleveland, and the team was pushed around against the Dolphins. The Texans controlled the Nov. 1 contest as well. The Titans have no business claiming those in the "could've won" department. Close losses like the ones at Jacksonville hurt the most. The Titans blew a 27-14 lead to the Colts, and they lost a 10-0 lead to the Bills. Make a play late in either of those games and they're wins. Same goes for Thursday's defeat. One play could've changed the outcome, but the Titans couldn't make the play. And it's why they're sitting at 2-8 right now instead of at the top of the AFC South, at 5-5. Aside from an OT win at New Orleans, the Titans just haven't been able to close the deal.
Bass was a good catch**
Linebacker David Bass continues to make plays for the Titans. Bass recovered a fumble in the second quarter, and it continued a trend. Claimed off waivers by the Titans in September, Bass has regularly shown up even when he's played limited snaps. He intercepted Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on October 25, a play that led to a Tennessee touchdown. Bass was in on a sack of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton on November 15. Bass has also been a regular contributor on special teams. He was a good get at the start of the season.
Orakpo has been a difference-maker
Linebacker Brian Orakpo has recorded five sacks in the past four games, and he now has seven on the season. Orakpo plays with high energy, and his attitude is exactly what the defense needs. When Orakpo went down a few times on Thursday in Jacksonville, you can be sure defensive coaches held their breath on the sideline and in the booth. Take him out of the lineup and the defense looks completely different.