The Tennessee Titans led the Chicago Bears 27-7 with 13:45 left in the game and almost blew their 20-point advantage. Jay Cutler was on the bench injured, the Titans were dominant throught three quarters and yet there were more questions Monday. Yes, the Tennessee Titans held off the Chicago Bears comeback attempt and beat them 27-21. Why did the offense seemingly stalled out in the 4th quarter? Why did the defense give up so many chunk plays? Why was the Bears’ starting quarterback Matt Barkley able to pass Chicago back into the game?
“I can’t grade anybody from the naked eye,” Titans Head Coach Mike Mularkey said. “I’m going to have to look at it. They had a lot of balls thrown their way. They [the Bears] threw 46 passes. They had a lot of opportunities, but when it counted, we won.”
Barkley went 28/54 for 316 yards, threw three touchdowns and two interceptions. However in the final drive, Barkley’s last three passes were incomplete. Mariota subsequently took a knee and ended the game.
Safety Perrish Cox’s tenure in Tennessee also ended Monday. He was waived and the Titans brought up seventh-round pick Kalan Reed to the active roster from the Practice Squad.
“There’s no message sent,” Mularkey responded when asked about Cox’s departure. “There’s no hidden messages. This is the way the NFL is. If you don’t perform at the level that we ask, then we’re going to find somebody that does. But there’s never a hidden message through you guys. That will never be the case. ”
Although Cox has 42 tackles and three interceptions in eleven games, Mularkey informed everyone Perrish’s inconsistent play was the reason for his departure.
No, it’s been consistency through the games. It wasn’t one particular thing. It just hasn’t been consistent. I think players need to realize that. That’s what we want from them. That’s what we expect from them. I think they expect that from themselves, but we were not getting it and we’re going to go in a different direction. I think it’s best for both parties—fresh start for him. He’ll go somewhere, and that’s probably best for him.”
Cox’s contract was three years, $15 million with $2.5 guaranteed. Titans save a $5 million base in 2017, but take a $833k hit on final prorated piece of signing bonus. He made a $5 million base this year which guaranteed after opening day.
Meanwhile, Marcus Mariota went 15/23 for 226 yards and two touchdowns. He added 46 rushing yards as well. His improvement over the past 6-8 weeks has been palpable. In the last eight games, Mariota has 21 touchdowns and three interceptions.
“I have to give a lot of credit to the guys around me, including the coaching staff,’’ Mariota said after Sunday’s game. “They do a great job of game-planning for us, and guys continue to find ways to get open. And the guys up front do a great job of giving us some time to make plays.”
Mariota has now thrown at least two touchdown passes in eight consecutive games. He became the third player in franchise history with 25 touchdowns in a season, the first since Warren Moon in 1990.
As Mariota goes, the Titans go. Heading into their bye week this week, Tennessee is one-half game behind the Houston Texans for first place in the AFC South. Mularkey said in Monday’s press conference his team must get over .500. The Denver Broncos will be the Titans next opponent Sunday, December 11th in Nashville. Considering the considerable youth on the roster, the bye week has come at an opportune time.
“I was concerned about the bye, when we first looked at the schedule, being so late,” Mularkey said. “I think it did have a little bit of an effect on us, again, based on how long we’ve been going without a break, but I like where it is now with four games to go in this stretch. I think it’s a good time for us. We need the break. We need it mentally and physically for this four-game stretch coming up.”
Images used in this article are by the Associated Press.