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Tennessee Titans: Don't call for Mike Mularkey's head just yet

What did you expect them to look like?

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

There's been plenty of hate for Mularkey and Co. this week.  That can be expected after such a sickening loss.  Again.  At home.  Again.

There's plenty of blame to go around in this one, whether it be the referees, the play calling, Marcus Mariota's repeated turnovers, the Titans lack of wide receiver play making ability, etc.  I'm sure in some form or fashion they are all to blame and all enable each other.

It seems the franchise savior Marcus Mariota thrives in situations that the Titans don't want to put him in unless absolutely necessary.  He picks apart defenses when he runs the no huddle, calling his own plays and dissecting things on the hurry.  Maybe he just thinks quicker when in these situations.  I can't say that I agree with the Titans not putting him in this position more often.

At the same time I can't say that the heavy formation play calling can be blamed for his propensity to throw interceptions and fumble the ball as well.  Is he pressing?  Is he trying to hard?  Can the receivers not get adequate separation?  Again, it's all related.  As far as play calling and ethos is concerned for the team offensively, I do believe it gives the defensive backfield and advantage to sit on routes when there's less receivers to cover and no one can beat you deep.

All these things are surely cause for concern, but the idea that Mularkey should be on the hot seat 3 games into his first season trying to rebuild a team is a bit hyperbolic to me. You may have been against the Mularkey hire to begin with and are just collecting ammo for your arsenal, and that's fine, but hold off on the firing squad just yet.

Head Coach Mike Mularkey and new General Manager Jon Robinson set out with a mission this off season.  They have completely rebuilt this team from a near scorched earth base.  There's almost no one left from the previous regimes and are starting out on a new path.  Whether you agree with that path or not, they have done exactly what they said they were going to do.  Protect Mariota and run the ball.  Play physical hard hitting football and build the team with smart coach able players.

This team has won 5 games in the last 3 years.  I had hoped for 6 this year and would have been happy with it.  Unfortunatley, being in close games, winning 6 shows a clear pregression.  Something this fan base sorely needs.  Have I let the fan in me get excited during the preseason and allowed those expectations to creep upwards?  Of course.  But the reality is this team is checking off all the boxes it set out to do, and that should be commended.  The offensive line went from possibly the worst in the league to playing very very well.  Mariota isn't getting sacked or hurried or destroyed in the backfield and the team can actually run the ball, something that hasn't happened since the days of Chris Johnson.  They have been in every game they've played in, and even came from behind to win one.

The bottom line is that the Titans have lost 2 close games to 2 good teams, and it was the turnovers in the games that did it.  They play the Houston Texans next week for a chance to hold sole possession of first place in the AFC South.  Let that sink in for a minute. If at the end of last season you told me the Titans had a chance to be 2-2 and leading the AFC South at week 4, I would take it in a heart beat.

This rebuild isn't going to happen overnight, but hopefully it will be for the long haul.  It's hard to be patient after enduring the last 2 years, and being stuck in the definition of mediocrity the 3 before that.  But this is a new start and needs a new deep breath.