In The Know: Tennessee Titans

In The Know is an ongoing series with the opposing team's beat reporter. Jim Wyatt, senior writer and editor for TitansOnline.com, gives insight on the Texans upcoming opponent this week, the Tennessee Titans.
Texans will face quarterback Marcus Mariota for the first time on Sunday. Off to a 1-2 start, where has Mariota improved from Year One to Year Two and where can he get better?
Wyatt: Well, he definitely looks more comfortable and certainly has better weapons around him. He got the team to a game-winning drive in the final seconds against the Lions in Week 2. He still needs to cut back on some of his mistakes he's made, some of the interceptions. He's lost a couple fumbles and Marcus Mariota has said himself, sometimes he feels like he has to do too much, maybe presses a little bit. He'll have to make better decisions moving forward. 

He has four touchdowns, four interceptions so far this year. Those are the things that if the Titans are going to win games this year, they're going to have to clean up those mistakes and he's certainly well-aware of that.
How has he bounced back from the injury last year and is there more of an effort to keep him in the pocket to protect him? Or is he still very much encouraged to get out of the pocket and make those big plays with his legs?
Wyatt: Yeah, I think they'd like to see him to do that because it keeps the defense honest. It gives them certainly more of a threat in other areas when he's able to have success running the ball. He has recovered well from his injury from last year. He missed four games with a knee injury. They've done a better job protecting him. He's not under the same pressure he was last year when he was sacked 38 times in 12 games. 

Sometimes he has been guilty of maybe holding the ball a little too much on occasion. That makes him a little more successful at getting hit. The running threat is there and he will tuck and run from time to time. He's taken off millions of times here, he's 52 yards this season. Still hasn't had one of those long runs like Titans fans saw him have against Jacksonville last year, but certainly is capable and I think we'll see some of that moving forward – at least see some attempts moving forward.
The Titans added two big names this offseason between DeMarco Murray and drafting the Heisman-winning Derrick Henry. Tell us a little bit about that tandem and how they are being used so far in the Titans offense.
Wyatt: That's been a big question in Tennessee since the team acquired both of them: Murray in a trade and Henry in the draft. I think a lot of people wondered how they can keep them both happy and, so far, it's been DeMarco Murray getting the bulk of the carries and certainly he's been the more productive back of the two. 

Murray already has over 200 yards, he had a first 100-yard rushing game for a Titans running back since Chris Johnson did it in 2013. He has 17 catches, a couple of touchdowns, receiving as well. He's been certainly exactly what the Titans had in mind. There were a lot of questions about him coming in here after playing with Philadelphia last year. He has certainly looked like he has plenty of gas left in the tank.

I think you'll see Henry get more opportunities looking forward the more comfortable he gets, but as long as DeMarco Murray continues to perform well, it's going to be hard to take him off the field. 
The Texans will certainly see a few familiar faces on Sunday: center Ben Jones and wide receiver Andre Johnson. Let's start with Andre Johnson. We've seen him making some big plays toward the end of games. Has his role been more increased because of the injuries to wide receiver and where does he fit in with that group?
Wyatt: He's been in a completely different role. I know he had to adjust last year when he went from Houston after all those years there to Indianapolis. He has really been used on a limited basis here. A game in Detroit in Week 2, he had a game-winning catch and the biggest play of the game, but he only played 15 snaps that game, and he hasn't gotten a whole lot of opportunities. This is different for him and he's such a good guy. 

He's not a guy that's complaining about snaps or complaining about playing time, he just wants to win. He's had to adjust, had to stay fresh on the sidelines and ride a bike, kind of do the high-knees. Kendall Wright, one of the injured receivers over the first four weeks – first three weeks of the season – Kendall Wright was kind of kidding him, telling him he needs to do some high-knees on the sidelines to stay fresh, but he's adjusted well. He has great locker room presence for this team and 

Ben Jones (is) the same way. He's kind of been an anchor on the offensive line. He's come in here and restored a unit that – you know – had some difficulties last year. I think he settled that group down.
Let's talk about the Titans defense. They held Oakland scoreless in the second half. A week before that, they held the Lions to just a field goal after halftime, so just three points for opposing teams in the second half. Where has this defense improved in the offseason?
Wyatt: It starts with Dick LeBeau because last year, LeBeau was here as an assistant head coach but he wasn't the defensive coordinator. It was Ray Horton calling the defense and now LeBeau is with the controls and they have been more consistent and I think more disciplined. I think the pass rush has been better even if the numbers don't reflect that. They have played against some really good offenses for the first three weeks: Oakland ranked No. 2, Detroit ranked No. 4, and they've only allowed small amount of big plays and not many touchdowns. It's been a much improved unit and I think they play well enough for this team to have more than one win at this point. 

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In The Know is an ongoing series with the opposing team's beat reporter. Jim Wyatt, senior writer and editor for TitansOnline.com, gives insight on the Texans upcoming opponent this week, the Tennessee Titans.*

Texans will face quarterback Marcus Mariota for the first time on Sunday. Off to a 1-2 start, where has Mariota improved from Year One to Year Two and where can he get better?

Wyatt: Well, he definitely looks more comfortable and certainly has better weapons around him. He got the team to a game-winning drive in the final seconds against the Lions in Week 2. He still needs to cut back on some of his mistakes he's made, some of the interceptions. He's lost a couple fumbles and Marcus Mariota has said himself, sometimes he feels like he has to do too much, maybe presses a little bit. He'll have to make better decisions moving forward. 

He has four touchdowns, four interceptions so far this year. Those are the things that if the Titans are going to win games this year, they're going to have to clean up those mistakes and he's certainly well-aware of that.

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How has he bounced back from the injury last year and is there more of an effort to keep him in the pocket to protect him? Or is he still very much encouraged to get out of the pocket and make those big plays with his legs?

**Wyatt:
Yeah, I think they'd like to see him to do that because it keeps the defense honest. It gives them certainly more of a threat in other areas when he's able to have success running the ball. He has recovered well from his injury from last year. He missed four games with a knee injury. They've done a better job protecting him. He's not under the same pressure he was last year when he was sacked 38 times in 12 games. 

Sometimes he has been guilty of maybe holding the ball a little too much on occasion. That makes him a little more successful at getting hit. The running threat is there and he will tuck and run from time to time. He's taken off millions of times here, he's 52 yards this season. Still hasn't had one of those long runs like Titans fans saw him have against Jacksonville last year, but certainly is capable. I think we'll see some of that moving forward, at least see some attempts moving forward.


The Titans added two big names this offseason between DeMarco Murray and drafting the Heisman-winning Derrick Henry. Tell us a little bit about that tandem and how they are being used so far in the Titans offense.

Wyatt: That's been a big question in Tennessee since the team acquired both of them: Murray in a trade and Henry in the draft. I think a lot of people wondered how they can keep them both happy and, so far, it's been DeMarco Murray getting the bulk of the carries and certainly he's been the more productive back of the two. 

Murray already has over 200 yards, he had a first 100-yard rushing game for a Titans running back since Chris Johnson did it in 2013. He has 17 catches, a couple of touchdowns, receiving as well. He's been certainly exactly what the Titans had in mind. There were a lot of questions about him coming in here after playing with Philadelphia last year. He has certainly looked like he has plenty of gas left in the tank.

I think you'll see Henry get more opportunities looking forward the more comfortable he gets, but as long as DeMarco Murray continues to perform well, it's going to be hard to take him off the field.


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The Texans will certainly see a few familiar faces on Sunday: center Ben Jones and wide receiver Andre Johnson. Let's start with Andre Johnson. We've seen him making some big plays toward the end of games. Has his role been more increased because of the injuries to wide receiver and where does he fit in with that group? 
Wyatt:** He's been in a completely different role. I know he had to adjust last year when he went from Houston after all those years there to Indianapolis. He has really been used on a limited basis here. A game in Detroit in Week 2, he had a game-winning catch and the biggest play of the game, but he only played 15 snaps that game, and he hasn't gotten a whole lot of opportunities. This is different for him and he's such a good guy. 

He's not a guy that's complaining about snaps or complaining about playing time, he just wants to win. He's had to adjust, had to stay fresh on the sidelines and ride a bike, kind of do the high-knees. Kendall Wright, one of the injured receivers over the first four weeks – first three weeks of the season – Kendall Wright was kind of kidding him, telling him he needs to do some high-knees on the sidelines to stay fresh, but he's adjusted well. He has great locker room presence for this team.

Ben Jones (is) the same way. He's kind of been an anchor on the offensive line. He's come in here and restored a unit that had some difficulties last year. I think he settled that group down.


Let's talk about the Titans defense. They held Oakland scoreless in the second half. A week before that, they held the Lions to just a field goal after halftime, so just three points for opposing teams in the second half. Where has this defense improved in the offseason?
Wyatt: It starts with Dick LeBeau because last year, LeBeau was here as an assistant head coach but he wasn't the defensive coordinator. It was Ray Horton calling the defense and now LeBeau is with the controls and they have been more consistent and I think more disciplined. I think the pass rush has been better even if the numbers don't reflect that. They have played against some really good offenses for the first three weeks: Oakland ranked No. 2, Detroit ranked No. 4, and they've only allowed small amount of big plays and not many touchdowns. It's been a much improved unit and I think they play well enough for this team to have more than one win at this point.

Check out the best photos from Wednesday's practice presented by Houston Methodist.

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