Five Key Questions for Titans vs. Dolphins

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A year ago, the Titans headed to Miami for a Week 5 game, looking to bounce back following a loss to Houston.

Sound familiar?

In 2016, Tennessee used a victory over the Dolphins as a springboard, the start of three wins in four games that turned their season in the right direction.

The Titans hope to follow the same path starting Sunday when they visit Miami once again. Here are five key questions for the Titans looking ahead:

How can the Titans improve their starts? – The Titans have been held to a combined three points in the first quarters of their last three games. Tennessee was able to overcome slow offensive starts with monstrous second halves in wins over Jacksonville and Seattle, but couldn’t do the same in Sunday’s loss to Houston.

One way to better those starts, as Titans coach Mike Mularkey noted Monday, is by doing a better job of converting early third-down attempts.

In their season-opening drive against Oakland, for example, the Titans marched right down the field for a touchdown, converting a third-and-10 as well as two third-and-8s. But in the three first quarters since then, the Titans have only converted four-of-13 third-down attempts.

The Titans were the fourth-best team in the NFL at converting third downs last year (46 percent), so there’s no reason to believe they can’t improve on their recent early-game performances.

What can Matt Cassel gain through practice this week? – We still don’t know whether Cassel or Marcus Mariota (hamstring) will start on Sunday, but we do know Cassel will be getting far more practice reps with the first team this week than in a regular week.

Mularkey said the team will formulate game-plans for both Mariota and Cassel, and that alone should ensure Cassel sees a significant amount of time with the first unit.

In addition, Mularkey indicated Cassel will likely get the bulk of the first-team snaps Wednesday in practice while the Titans further evaluate Mariota. That can only aid Cassel in…

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