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Ask Mike: Will Titans Additions Improve Time of Possession?




Jason in Murfreesboro, Tenn.: "Mike, How much better will the Titans be in time of possession this year? They were ranked last in the NFL in that category last year and I'm wondering how much of a difference (Chance) Warmack, (Andy) Levitre, and (Shonn) Greene will help there. Also, how much will an improved time of possession help the defense, to keep them fresh?"

MIKE KEITH: This is the Tennessee Titans' most important statistic — offensively and defensively — entering 2013. Time and time again, the 2012 Titans offense left its own defense defenseless after turnovers, quick punts and quarters of futility.


The '12 Titans offense could not stay on the field. Their 27:18 time of possession certainly indicates that. So does the fact that Tennessee had an average of eight fewer plays per game than the opposition (68 to 60).  Another telling number: the Titans' offense went "three and out" on 47 of 188 drives (25 percent).

More damning: Tennessee had just 15 drives that lasted five minutes, only three of those drives went for touchdowns, and the 15 drives produced just 42 points (last in the NFL). 

Not being able to stay on the field is a primary reason that Tennessee's offense didn't put up numbers on the scoreboard. If you remove the Titans' nine return touchdowns (four interceptions, three punts, one kickoff and one fumble) and a touchdown that they scored after recovering a blocked punt on the Pittsburgh one yard line, Tennessee averaged just 16 points per game.

Of course, when you give up the most sacks since 2004 (39), turn the ball over 28 times and finish 26th in total offense, you just aren't going to score much.

And you don't help your defense at all.

The Tennessee defense was hardly a championship unit in 2012. They must improve a lot in 2013, no doubt. But the best defense in the NFL is a good offense.

Bill in Bellevue, Tenn: "I enjoyed Jeff Darlington's story (on NFL Network and about (Jake) Locker. Do you know the specifics about Locker calling the grocery store to let them know that he'd be late?"

MIKE KEITH: I thought Jeff did a nice job on both the network and website last month with that story. He got across the point well that nice guys don't automatically become franchise quarterbacks, but that everyone pulls hard for a nice guy. And Jake Locker is a good guy who has tremendous support within the Titans' organization.

And yes, I know the Kroger story…

It was November 1, 2011, Jake's rookie year. Jake was scheduled to make an appearance at the Kroger location at Providence Marketplace in Mount Juliet. I-40 through Nashville was closed and Titans vice president of business operations/sales Stuart Spears advised Jake to use I-840 to bypass the shutdown.

As Jake began to take "the long way" to Mount Juliet — without any prompting or reminder — Jake called Kroger community relations manager Melissa Eads to let her know not to worry, to explain what route that he was taking and to advise her that might be a few minutes late. And then, after he arrived, Jake stayed extra long to make sure that everyone was taken care of.

Stuart has been with the Titans 26 years. Melissa has worked with the Titans through Kroger for 15 years. They've both met a lot of good guys. We've been lucky that we've had a lot of good guys since the team moved to the Mid-South.  But we've never had a guy pick up the phone and call on his own to let a sponsor know that he was on the way to an appearance.

It made a huge impression on a lot of people.

Ryan in Orlando, Fla.: "With all these teams getting new revamped jerseys, don't you think it's time for the Titans to upgrade their look?"

MIKE KEITH: To me, the look is still very cool. My personal preference is that the dark blue jerseys come out again soon, even for just a game. I liked the look, but I really liked how many games that the Titans won in those jerseys. Sadly, I am very superstitious!

Kevin in Nazareth, Pa.: "Mike, Why don't the Titans sign John Abraham? They need another pass rusher. Kamerion Wimbley is not really that good. Don't they have the money to sign him or what? Those two guys, Derrick Morgan, and Kamerion Wimbley play a lot of snaps between the two of them. They will look good if they get John Abraham."

MIKE KEITH: It's not money, Kevin. The Titans are still is good shape under the salary cap and have certainly proven to be "spenders" in free agency. If they wanted to sign John Abraham, even at the number that he wants, they could do it.

But Tennessee seems pretty satisfied with where they are at defensive end entering training camp. They like Kamerion Wimbley better than you do, Kevin, and think that he could have a bigger year. Plus, with a multitude of personnel groupings that the Titans plan to employ, they believe that they have some solid depth.

John Abraham may end up with the Tennessee Titans — I'm not ruling anything out. But I will be surprised if Tennessee signs Abraham any time soon.

Shirley in Manchester, Tenn.: "When will the radio show start again at Brentwood O'Charley's?"

MIKE KEITH: "Titans Tonight with Mike Munchak" hits the air Tuesdays at 6 p.m. CDT starting on July 30. The first five shows will be broadcast from St. Thomas Sports Park.

The first show at O'Charley's in Brentwood will be Tuesday, Sept. 3.

Cody in Clarksville, Tenn.: "Are the Titans the "sleeper team" in the AFC?

MIKE KEITH: I don't think that the pundits see the Titans as the AFC sleeper.

I think that the media consensus is that AFC sleeper is the Miami Dolphins. They played pretty well in 2012, they spent a ton of money in free agency and the Patriots seem somewhat vulnerable. Others see the Pittsburgh Steelers as the AFC sleeper and I do believe that they will be improved in 2013. But could you really ever call Pittsburgh "a sleeper"? Seems like a reach.

So I guess that the Titans have a chance to be "a real shocker", which would be a lot of fun.

Jason in Nashville: "Will Delanie Walker get some snaps at fullback, running back and tight end?"

MIKE KEITH: Jason, I think that the answer is 100 percent yes, that we will see him lined up all over. They don't call Delanie the "Swiss Army Knife" for no reason.

One of the reasons that the Titans like Walker so much is that when they break the huddle, opposing defenses have no idea what role that Walker will play. Thus, it makes it hard for them to scheme personnel-wise against the Titans' offense, which could open up some potential mismatches. That is the hope.

Chris in Martinez, Calif.: "Mike, with new players through draft/free agency, new playbooks on both sides of the ball, and new coaches. Which new addition to the Titans excited you most?"


MIKE KEITH: Gregg Williams. I spent 1998-2000 with Gregg, my first three years with the team. He taught me a lot about defense. He is a great coach, a wonderful motivator and superior communicator. I have never believed in a football coach that I have been around more. The Titans got better the day that he was hired.

Jerry Gray and I spent some time talking about Gregg Williams over the past two seasons. Jerry shared a lot of their defensive philosophy, how they differed and why they worked so well together. Some of the stories were just fantastic, filled with a lot of insight into the minds of both men. It is a unique relationship, very much like they are family members. Sounds like a line, but I do believe it.

I have been around one other situation in my sports life and it was remarkably similar. Two coaches who were like brothers. Their dynamic was similar to Williams' and Gray's. Without breaking down all of the details, that relationship worked because of their respect for one another's opinion. It was truly "two heads are better than one". 

I believe that Gregg Williams and Jerry Gray can be the same way. Because I know Gregg and Jerry and have heard a lot about their background together, I don't worry about how they will function.

Janet in Lebanon, Tenn.: "Hi Mike … this isn't a question but I'd like you to pass along my comments. I was so disappointed to miss the **Gregg Williams dinner event** (May 6 in Lebanon for Titans season ticket holders), my husband was sick that Monday. Just wanted to say that we are thrilled he is back with the Titans and that he is the best acquisition we made in the off-season...we are pumped for this year! Thank you."

MIKE KEITH: I'm with you 100%, Janet. You are going to enjoy watching the intensity that Gregg brings!

Blarrington in Memphis:* "Is Tennessee going to play the same way at cornerback, 15 yards off the ball, because that looks bad."  *

MIKE KEITH: No, Blarrington, I don't think that this will be the Titans' style in the secondary. Maybe in some situations, but not often. Man-to-man, press coverage will be the normal order of the day for Jason McCourty and the other starter at cornerback.

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