First and foremost: be afraid. Be very afraid of what this season will look like if things don't
The story from Sunday that's getting national attention is Chuck Cecil's one finger salute to the officiating crew . Most people are going to attribute the move to the neutral zone infraction that directly preceded the display, but in al reality it had much more to do with the pathetic roughing the passer call against Sen'Derrick Marks on the play before that one. Marks hit Orton in the thigh and was flagged for a back-breaking 15 yard penalty that kept the Bronco's drive alive (granted they would've gotten the first down due to the declined off-sides, but that wouldn't throw the momentum off as much). Cecil's wallet is about to get 5 figures lighter, but it's hard for me to share in the outrage when I was going double barrel flip-offs in my living room after Marks got penalized. When I saw it I thought the same thing Cortland said after the game: that's awesome. Family Friendly? Not so much. An honest expression of frustration a crap-load of Titans fans were dealing? Damn skippy.
After the game Kyle Orton accused Cortland Finnegan of punching offensive lineman Chris Kuper after his helmet had come off, and called the Titans defense 'dirty'. There's no doubt that this defense has had problems staying under control, but I'm not seeing things aimed at hurting anyone, and since we lead the league in fines and probably in personal foul calls we're not getting away with much either. But keep in mind that Orton got hit about 20 times, including 6 sacks. Maybe the Titans defense is a little dirty, but lets not confuse that with the fact that the Broncos' pass-only offense is really soft.
Mike Florio is buying that the Titans are dirty, and he's got anonymous whining from someone, somewhere, in the league to back-up his opinion. But, it looks to me like Florio's reading comprehension is on par with his football analysis skills, because I'd like someone to explain to me how this quote means the Titans are any dirtier than the rest of the league:
Some league insiders believe the time has come for Fisher to take control of the situation. Said one high-level source with another team, "We have to sit and listen to Fisher pontificate at league meetings every year, and his guys are as dirty as anyone."
Dirty play or not, the Titans were killed by penalties yesterday. The neutral zone infractions are killing this team this year. Officials have cracked down on what used to be the most common site along the Titans defensive line: a guy jumps into the neutral zone before the snap, but gets back in time. Now though, opposing offensive lineman just hop up like they were drawn off so they get a cheap 5 yards. I don't like it, but thems the rules of the game.
Mark Mariani experienced the full range of emotions possible in the NFL yesterday. At least everyone is acknowledging that the final kickoff was a very fluky, funky flight path that most returners would struggle to adjust to. Hopefully Mariani can keep working on the ball security because the kid is an electric returner.
Give the Broncos credit for a great play call down on the goal-line for the go-ahead score.
Have some love and send a brother some links at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow me on Twitter at @AugustWest_MCM