Story By: Brady Trapnell
Titans Reporter/Writer

In a game that could only be described as ugly, the Tennessee Titans (4-3) rode the back of kicker Ryan Succop’s four field goals to a 12-9 win over the Cleveland Browns (0-7) in week seven.

Here’s what we learned during the Titans lackluster performance.

This play calling can’t continue

It has been said over and over again. The Titans offense must find a way to start games faster. But, its also been said over and over that offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie’s play calling has been miserable.

We’ve written stories about it. The coaching staff has acknowledged it. However, nothing has been done to fix it. Against the Colts on Monday night, it looked fixed in the second half but that was clearly a false alarm.

Generic play calling: run, run, pass. If it is not that, then mistakes like this one by Delanie Walker on the Titans third drive of the game against the Browns are stalling drives:

The most egregious moment of the game came after an interception by safety Kevin Byard. A seven play, 31 yard drive ended at the one yard line. Four plays at the goal line and Robiskie’s offense could not punch it in with one of the best offensive lines in the league and a 248-pound running back.

Marcus Mariota went 21 of 34 for 203 yards and a 78.4 passer rating, and Titans wide receivers combined for only seven receptions. Derrick Henry rushed for 13 yards on 13 carries. DeMarco Murray rushed for 59 yards on 18 carries. 12 points.

All of those stats came against the Cleveland Browns, who were allowing 26.2 points per game, ranking for 27th in the league.

Sure, Mariota did not have the best day of his career. However, a solid catch would turn into to back-to-back short running plays, and either a punt or a field goal. The offense looks inconsistent, unorganized and problematic.

What happened to the Titans offense in the second half against the Colts? Who knows.

Coach Mike Mularkey said his team will be reevaluating their approach during the upcoming bye week.

“We gotta do a better job. We have to clean it up and figure out what we are doing wrong,” he said on the offensive struggles. “It starts with the coaching and the scheme then we look at the players doing it. We’ll look at all of it. Just like we do in the offseason, we will look at all of that in the bye week.”

Kevin Byard is going to be a star 

Kevin Byard. Wow.

He did not have an interception his entire rookie year. Yet, his three interceptions against the Browns secured a win and brought excitement to a game lacking it.

With the Browns inside the 30-yard line and knocking on the door to tie it before the half, he stepped up and did this.

But, he was not done. On the first drive out of the half for the Browns, the former MTSU star showed up again. He read quarterback Deshone Kizer like a book, slipping off of coverage in the flat to make intercept the pass.

Then, with the Cody Kessler at quarterback and the Browns trying to answer again late in the fourth quarter:

With three interceptions, Byard becomes the first Titans player with three interceptions in a game since linebacker Keith Bulluck in 2007.

Byard also added four tackles, one TFL and three passes defended. Although the Titans offense could not capitalize on the three turnovers with points, Byard showed up to play on a day when his team did not.

Mularkey said after the game, “He is where he is supposed to be.”

That’s the sign of a star in the making.

Ryan Succop may be the Titans last hope

This guy is a machine.

The Kansas City Chiefs have to be kicking themselves (pun intended) after letting Ryan Succop go in 2014 in favor of kicker Cairo Santos who is currently on the injured reserve.

Succop, 31, has made nine field goals in the past two games, and an NFL record 55 straight field goals inside of 50-yards.

Despite the incredible performances in 2017 thus far, Mularkey gave his kicker some tough love after a missed field goal early in the third quarter on Sunday afternoon. His first miss of the season.

“I would have liked to see the 53 go through to and maybe it would have saved a little bit there at the end,” Mularkey said. “I’ve seen him hit those consistently in practice. So there is a big trust factor there . . . But, he came through when it counted.”

With the red zone struggles continuing, Succop has been an unlikely hero to keep the Titans in games.

Especially the 47-yard field goal with 1:55 remaining in overtime, which gave the Titans a win and put Titans fans out of their misery.

The Titans will have a bye week in week eight before returning to Nashville for a two-game home stand against the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals.
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