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Titans want DeMarco Murray, RBs out quicker for passes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans' emphasis on pass protection in 2016 produced great results.

Marcus Mariota and Matt Cassel were sacked 28 times and on 5.5 percent of the Titans’ pass attempts. A year earlier, Titans QBs went down 54 times and on 9.8 percent of their dropbacks.

But not every development from Tennessee’s better pass protection was a good one.

Mike Mularkey said in the coaching staff’s review so far of the 2016 season that he saw running backs over-dedicated staying in to help the offensive line.

“I’d say we’ve got to get our backs out quicker,” Mularkey said in a recent interview with The Midday 180 in Nashville. “We’ve been pretty adamant about protections. My first couple years here (as the tight ends coach and then the interim coach), we were one of the worst teams in protections, gave up the most sacks two years ago.

“And we may have over-emphasized it too much that the backs are waiting for something to happen and trying to get an extra chip. But we’ve got to get them out quicker. That’s what you see these teams, especially New England, getting the ball out and letting these guys make the yards after the catch rather than in the air.”

With backs staying in too long too often, they still managed 67 receptions for 528 yards and three touchdowns. DeMarco Murray had 53 catches, tied for sixth-most by an NFL running back, and was targeted 67 times, the ninth-most among backs.

If he had a great pass-catching season like that in a year when Mularkey and the staff thought the backs often didn’t get out quick enough, imagine what he could do in 2017 when he’s freed up a bit quicker to make himself an available target.