NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Six thoughts after Sunday's 42-39 win over the Jaguars.
Players like Mularkey
Something I get asked a lot: How many wins might it take for interim coach Mike Mularkey to keep the job on a permanent basis? Right now, I think it's impossible to say for sure. My feeling is ownership would like to see more wins, and have the belief things are headed in the right direction. The next four weeks will provide more answers, and it will be tough sledding with upcoming games at the Jets and Patriots, as well as contests against the Texans and Colts, who are battling it out for the AFC South title. But I can say this with confidence: Players are fighting for Mularkey, and want to win for him. So far, the team is 2-3 under his watch with four games to go.
Mariota is special**
Quarterback Marcus Mariota hasn't been perfect during his rookie season. Sure, he's made some mistakes, and there's room for improvement in his game. But the guy has exceeded everyone's expectations in his first NFL season, and he's just going to keep getting better. Mariota has made a habit of responding well to adversity. He's made a ton of big plays, and his success in the red zone is uncanny (15 TDs, 0 INTs). Something else that stands out – how much his teammates like him. Seeing Zach Mettenberger race downfield to congratulate him in the end zone after his 87-yard run offered a perfect example.
One of the most surprising developments on Sunday was the lack of a killer instinct by the defense. The Titans allowed a season-high 39 points against the Jaguars, who converted 10-of-14 third downs (71 percent). Blake Bortles threw for 322 yards and five touchdowns, and no one on defense could cover receiver Allen Robinson, who had 10 catches for 163 yards and three scores. Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard said afterward the Titans want to play like a Top 10 defense every week, but there was some slippage on Sunday. With a pair of top 10 offenses on the horizon — Jets ranked 10th, Patriots ranked 3rd — the defense better tighten up.
Receiver Dorial Green-Beckham has undoubtedly tested the patience of coaches and fans alike this season as he's worked his way through some growing pains. But that was expected after he sat out all of last season. Green-Beckham's performance on Sunday, however, should provide a big boost of optimism to everyone. Green-Beckham caught five passes for 119 yards, and a 47-yard touchdown. Most impressive was the way he bounced back from his earlier faux pas, when he let a pass go through his hands for an interception. It was a good development. Now, can he do it on a more consistent basis?
One-two punch in run game
The Titans finally made good on their promise of playing running back David Cobb more, and it's a good thing. Cobb had 40 yards on 13 carries against the Jaguars, including a 10-yard run. I thought he ran hard. And I thought Antonio Andrews continued to run with an attitude as well, racking up 58 yards on 13 carries, including a memorable 22-yard run. The Titans need both of these backs in the equation down the stretch if for no other reason than to find out what they have heading into the offseason.
Titans tight end Phillip Supernaw plays with an attitude, and he's a hustler. He got himself noticed in training camp with his fiery approach -- it's why he stuck on the roster. And on Sunday, he made some big hits on special teams. But Supernaw committed a pair of unnecessary roughness penalties on Sunday that got the attention of Mularkey in a negative way. Mularkey said the "poor decisions" will "be addressed." The Titans want Supernaw to play with an edge, but if he wants to stay on the field, he's going to have to make sure he doesn't cross the line.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars Week 13 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)