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Glennon's Take: Five Key Questions for Titans
November 21, 2017 05:00 PM | John Glennon
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - After getting a couple of extra days' rest last weekend, the Titans will look for their third win in four AFC South games on Sunday.

Here are five key questions for the Titans as they seek a sweep of their season series against Indianapolis:

How important is stopping the streak? - The Titans have not win in Indianapolis since 2007, but you won't hear players or coaches bringing up that streak on their own this week.

"We're looking at what we have to do, and we have to win a division game on the road, and that's all we're focused on," Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. "Nothing else will be talked about other than that all week."

It's a matter of consistency and focus for the Titans, who took the same approach into previous division road games at Jacksonville and Houston.

One of the Titans' top goals this season is to improve their divisional play, after finishing 2-4 in the AFC South last season and losing the division on a tiebreaker to Houston.

A win in Indianapolis would be a big boost in that regard, giving the Titans a 3-1 mark in the AFC South with home games remaining against Houston and Jacksonville. It would also ensure the Titans would at the very least break even in the division for the first time since 2011.

What's a positive the Titans can build on from the Pittsburgh loss? - The Titans had been struggling on the sack front going into the Steelers contest, but they pulled Ben Roethlisberger down three times during last Thursday's loss.

That's impressive, considering Roethlisberger had only been sacked 11 times in his first nine games this season. He'd been hauled down a total of just once in his previous three contests.

The Titans' ability to get to Big Ben is encouraging news as they prepare for Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Indy has surrendered a league-high 39 sacks and a league-high 82 quarterback hits.

The Colts have been urging Brissett to get rid of the football faster.

"He realizes some of those hits are because of him and not being decisive enough, and that's something he's working to get better at," Colts quarterbacks coach Brian Schottenheimer told The Indianapolis Star. "There's certainly times he's held the ball too long, for different reasons."

Can the Titans improve their running attack? - The Titans will go into the Indy game with the 12th-best rushing attack in the league, averaging 117.5 yards per game. That's good, but the Titans would like to be closer to last season, when they averaged 136.7 yards per contest, third-best in the league.

One issue is the strength of opposing defenses, as the Titans have faced six teams - Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland, Seattle and Cincinnati - with overall defenses among the NFL's top 12.

The Titans also haven't had as much success running against eight defenders in the box compared to last season. They averaged 4.53 yards per carry against eight defenders in the box in 2016, compared to 2.93 yards per carry this season.

Tennessee has the same offensive line personnel and the same running backs as last season, which is why Mularkey thinks this year's group should be doing a better job.

"We left a lot of yards on the field (against Pittsburgh)," Mularkey said. "Our guys know it and we've got to do a better job, especially up front.

"I think we could run the ball better. We've played a lot of good defenses ... I'd like to, obviously, be better, especially when you're not up to where you were a year ago."

Why aren't the Titans running more no-huddle? - The Titans have used the no-huddle offense at times this season as a change of pace, but not as often as the team did in 2016.

One of the reasons is that the no-huddle offense relies a lot on the chemistry and comfort level between the quarterback and the receivers.

While quarterback Marcus Mariota is very familiar with the Titans' two-minute offense, some of the team's receivers - such as Eric Decker, Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor - are in their first season here. Decker and Davis also missed large chunks of training camp due to injuries, which slowed the chemistry process with Mariota.

"That plays a big role," Titans offensive cordinator Terry Robiskie said. "We've got (a couple of no-huddle packages), and when you put those together and you have two different groups of signals, (it's a lot).

"When we get into the no-huddle, if we miss one signal here or there, that's a bad play. One missed signal, one wrong route, will cost you a pick.

"The (bigger priority) is obviously to keep working every week to improve on our two-minute package because that's something you feel probably every Sunday you might have a chance (to use) - two minutes before the half or two minutes left in game. The no-huddle is something you decide you want to do. We've done little bit more on two-minute to make sure we get that polished than we have on our no-huddle."

What's been most consistent about the Titans' offense? - Overall, the Titans' offense has had ups and downs through the season's first 10 weeks.

But the Titans have been able to rely consistently on tight end Delanie Walker and wide receiver Rishard Matthews. The two have combined to account for 45 percent of the team's receptions (90 catches) and 52 percent of the team's receiving yardage (1,176 yards) through 10 games.

Walker posted six catches last Thursday in Pittsburgh, marking the seventh time in 10 games this season he's either led or tied for the team lead in receptions.

Matthews leads the team in receiving yardage (626) and touchdowns (three), and he's on pace to top last year's career marks in catches and yardage.

-- Reach John Glennon at glennonsports@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @glennonsports.



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