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Tuesday, October 5, 2010
On the idea the Titans are dirty

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Our politically correct culture spills over into the NFL for sure.

Once upon a time it was a place where players and coaches would rip on each other as they felt warranted. Now, people fear bulletin board material as much as they fear Mario Williams on third-and-long going against a rookie left tackle.

So I took note when Josh McDaniels did a little crying about Jeff Fisher and the Titans’ tactics this week, especially on the heels of a Broncos’ win in Nashville

From John Glennon’s article on the back-and-forth between the coaches:
“You can put in any tape you want to of Tennessee and there's going to be 10 penalties,” [McDaniels said.] “You either coach it or you allow it to happen. That's how I look at that.

"Our guys did a great job of keeping their poise and composure and not getting drawn into a big unsportsmanlike game because I know that's what they were trying to entice us into doing."

McDaniels said the Titans go beyond just being physical.

"There's a way to play tough and physical without being excessive and playing dirty after the snap," McDaniels said. "There's a lot of teams in this league that play like that. Tough and physical but also within the rules."

The Giants talked about this too, this idea that the Titans somehow seek to induce penalties or response to physical play.

Doesn’t everybody? Shouldn’t everybody? If my guy gets your guy to commit a penalty, he’s getting a plus, not a minus on his report from the game.

Tennessee has too many penalties this season and needs to play cleaner games. The Titans aren’t good enough to give away yards and first downs.

But that’s not been a historic trait of Jeff Fisher teams. Do we think all of a sudden he decided coaching his team to be dirty is the way to go? That it’s a missing ingredient in his formula, one that will help him get back to the playoffs and do better there?

I don’t.

And while I fear anything that makes me seem an apologist for any AFC South team on any issue, Sen’Derrick Mark’s penalty for a hit on Kyle Orton wasn’t flag worthy. It’s a defender hitting a quarterback with the ball still in his hand in the thighs.

So I thought Fisher’s reply was pitch perfect:

"We play aggressive -- we don't play cheap," Fisher said. "If there's things after the whistle or during the play, players are fined for them. But we're not a cheap football team. I don't know what he's referring to.

"We did have six sacks against the quarterback and numerous other times they did have some difficulty with protection and blocking our defensive line. Maybe he's referring to that."