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Gameday Mailbag: Jim Wyatt Answers Questions From Titans Fans Leading Up to the Preseason Finale vs the Cardinals


NASHVILLE – Training camp is officially over for the Tennessee Titans.

And, after Saturday night's game vs the Arizona Cardinals, the preseason will be over, too.

This mailbag, however, is just getting started.

Let's dive in…

Here's the link to submit questions: CLICK HERE

Todd Coleman from Columbus, Ohio
I see some people are down on Malik Willis after two games, saying that he's running too much. Sure, even he stated that he needs to stay in the pocket more. That's what he is supposed to say. Partly because it is true and the other part is him wanting to be coachable. He's not going to say "Well, I had to leave the pocket because my protection was breaking down." How can you (people who this pertains to) talk about him not staying in the pocket without talking about his line breaking down time after time. He's not just running around playing "streetball" like how some people see it. He's an intelligent and gifted young man who just needs time to grow and develop into the position. These same people who criticize Willis to no end after two games, assume that Woodside, no matter how many interceptions or sacks taken, is "smart" enough to eventually get it right. Willis has done a great job with using his legs to get out of trouble. With more reps and confidence and a year behind Tannehill, I think he'll be just fine. I'm a Titans fan so I'm rooting for whoever is good enough to play, but it's unfair and all too familiar to hear Willis (who is black) get dogged like this. I'm not down on Woodside but he's limited and not a viable number two right now. He needs to improve too. So let's use the same care and kid gloves with Willis that people use on Woodside (and other QBs like him) and stop shaking your head every time Willis runs... (for a first down). If Woodside ran out of trouble and escaped potential sacks like Willis has done, your mailbag would be full of people praising him for "extending" the play and "taking what he could when nothing was there" even if he went 7-17 and 2 interceptions. Some people would say it's because of where they were drafted, expectations are different. I don't agree with that in this case. Once you're on the field you have to produce if given the opportunity. I've read your mailbag over the years and appreciate your consistently measured, pensive, and intelligent responses. You're to be commended on that because I'm sure it gets difficult at times. Being a 54 year old black man in America, unfairness and inequality has gotten old long before me and sometimes I feel compelled to share. In saying that, keep up the good work and lead with your heart. Go Titans! #lovejoypeacelongsufferinggoodnessgentlenesskindnessfaithfullnessselfcontrol #FOTS

Jim: Hey Todd. I appreciate the email, and you taking the time. I honestly don't think folks are down on Malik. And, I don't think anyone should be. Sure, he's going through some growing pains, but this was expected. Personally, I think he's progressed faster than I thought he would by this point. And, he has outperformed Woodside in camp. But, keep in mind, the main folks criticizing Willis for leaving the pocket too much are his coaches. Head coach Mike Vrabel said after the Baltimore game it's the reason he took him out early, and he has been very open about it being an area Malik needs to improve. Heck, Malik has been critical of himself in this regard. And, respectfully, this isn't a race issue. I think a lot of folks have been very willing to say Woodside has been underwhelming in camp, and that the o-line has been very suspect as well. In less than a week, we'll start to get some answers. This much we know for sure: Ryan Tannehill and Malik Willis will be on the roster. Whether Woodside makes the 53, is re-signed to the practice squad, or another QB is in here – because the Titans will have 3 QBs in some form (roster/practice squad) – will be determined soon. And, no matter what happens, the development of Malik Willis will continue. That's because Malik is far from being a finished product, and I think he'd be the first one to say it.

Lester Gibbens from Frankfort, Kentucky
If the coaching staff isn't satisfied with Malik Willis's overall development in the system, what are the odds he gets traded before week 1?

Jim: Slim and None, and I just saw Slim, cold beer in hand, outside of Tootsies waiting for a Lyft. ... In all seriousness, Lester, Malik is going to be on the team, and at this point, I'm not going to be shocked if it's as the No.2 QB.

Michael Schlitz from Columbus, Georgia
Looking forward to watching the last preseason game and the players that are battling for the last few spots. With the increase in DB's being brought in assuming it's because of injuries, is there a position group that you could see the team targeting after roster cuts are made next week? I know the team is kind of up against the wall regarding the salary cap but do you think that will hinder bringing in any additional players?
Thank you, enjoy the game, and have a wonderful weekend. GO Titans

Jim: Hey Michael. A lot TBD, but o-line and the wide receiver position are still unsettled if you ask me, which you did. I'm curious myself to see how things might be addressed.

Dave Stalder from Albuquerque, New Mexico
Hey, Jim. What's the best football movie? Ever seen Semi-tough with Burt and Kris? Not even really about football, but so awesome! And Burt plays a running back. Guess what his number is.

Jim: Hey Dave. It's hard to beat 'Remember the Titans.' But 'Brian's Song' is a classic from way back and here's another sleeper: 'The Best of Times' with Kurt Russell, Robin Williams and 'Dr. Death.' It's one of my all-time favorites!

Sydney Wayne from Tacoma, Washington
The WR, QB, and OL room are still arguably the weakest rooms on the team. Do you expect the Titans to add some vets before week 1 or do you think the team is content with the products they currently have?

Jim: Hi Sydney. I don't think the team will be content with any area it considers a weakness. It's just a matter of how big of a weakness the GM and HC think they have at those spots. Personally, I think help is still needed at OL and WR, but I'm just doing the mailbags, not doing the scouting and writing the checks. The Titans have a solid starting QB, so I don't consider that a weakness, although there are questions behind Ryan Tannehill.

Gee Brown from Gallatin, Tennessee
This is not a player question. Since players have backups, I would like to know if Mike Keith got sick on game day who would fill in for him? Or would coach Mac go solo on the radio? He likes to talk so I am sure he could handle it.

Jim: Gee, Gee, this is an interesting question. I don't want to even discuss this because I think it would be bad luck for Mike and I don't want to do anything to saaaaaaaaaack him. But I haven't seen the depth chart at 'Play-by-play man."

Matthew Costello from Hallsville, Texas
Does Hassan Haskins have a real chance of taking snaps from Dontrell Hilliard after seeing how good he's catching the football?

Jim: Hey Matthew. Well, Dontrell Hilliard is going to have a role on this team. He had a great camp, and he's a versatile guy who is going to help on third down. With that said, I think Haskins improved during camp as well. It's going to be interesting to see if he can get on the field himself.

Roger Piccirillo from Bridgeport, Connecticut
Hey Jim as always hope you and yours are doing fine and I love what you do with the mail bag and articles. I want to touch you on backup quarterback situation, after watching first two preseason games it's become clear that neither Malik or Woodside will be able to win games if RT has to miss significant playing time. The writing was on the wall for Woodside when Malik was getting most of the reps in practice and the first two preseason games, they went as far as they could with Woodside lucky they didn't need to play him the last two seasons. So why not give the reps to Malik and see how fast he can develop and what he can do, unfortunately he's just not ready to play in the NFL this year and maybe never. My personal opinion is the back up quarterback for the Titans in 2022 is not currently with the team, I believe they will pick up a veteran QB when the final cuts are made around the league. On a separate note I was pleasantly surprise at how well the defensive backs played in week 2 of the preseason if they continue to improve this could be one nasty defense. As always thanks for the chance to contribute to the mailbag.

Jim: I continue to get a wide range of opinions on this. Some agree with you, while others out there think Malik should be the starter. We're going to find out what the GM and HC think about this position soon. Spoiler alert: Ryan Tannehill will the starter.

Jamie Holladay from Guyton, Georgia
Hi Jim, as always thank you for your honest insight its much obliged! I also would like to Give huge compliments to Play-by-play announcer Dan Hellie and analyst Charles Davis on an outstanding honest and more personal touch on calling the Bucs game. I'm way down south outside the local reach so I'm always stuck watching the national broadcast or opponents call the games. They where very entertaining and kept me in the Know throughout the game.
My question is on the 53 man roster coming up , do you get any sense of Vrabel dressing out a more heavy amount of Dl and Db than usual? Outside looking in at how they are churning DB's plus the variety of size, shape and skill sets I'm wondering if we may see Shane trying to take more advantage of player vs player match ups .
Going from colts total 6'3 .Wr unit over to KC who may not start anyone but 6ft or under Wr ,the league is making it hard to keep universal every down starters in all game. Looks like nfl is copy. The king going back to bigger backs to take advantage of more finesse Cover corners and DB. Seeing more cat and mouse may just be wise.
Anyways thanks and have a blessed day him!

Jim: Hey Jamie. Dan and Charles do a great job, no doubt about it. They do their homework, and they're both really good guys. As for the roster, they'll have numbers at both those spots. Because of injuries, the team has gone through a lot of DBs. And, some late additions are going to end up sticking. And your point about matchups is an interesting one, because I wonder if Roger McCreary and Caleb Farley could be used based on opponent, matchups, etc. Like I said previously, we'll begin to get some answers soon.

Garry Dodd from White Bluff, Tennessee
Jim. Please talk me off the ledge here--surely we're not cutting Brett Kern to save a measly $2Mil?

Jim: No matter what happens Garry, come off the ledge

Jimmy Simpkins from Charlotte, Tennessee
I am a true Titan Fan former football, basketball coach at Sycamore Middle School. 43 yrs. Retired and cattle rancher. Jim - Question Don't we need work on our offensive line especially pass blocking? The passing game and running game is dependent on the line improvements. Thanks

Jim: Hey Jimmy. Good to hear from you. The simple answer is yes. Like you, I've seen some issues during the preseason games. A part of me wonders if things will look better when the starting five is out there Week 1. Another part of me wonders if the starting five that will be out there Week 1 is good enough.

Anthony Anthamatten from Franklin, Tennessee
Jim, what I have always admired about the Titans organization is it's a family. From you as their writer, Teresa (Walker) and all the people that follow our team to Ms. Adams and the Adams family, Coach Vrabel and all the coaches and all of our the talented members of our team. Win our lose, this team fights hard every time. And I loved when Bud Adams flipped off the Houston Texans. He put two birds in the air. Cost him $250k, but I know Bud would have done it again. Go Titans!

Jim: Hey Anthony. This is a very kind email. Thank you. But, to set the record straight, Bud didn't flip off the Houston Texans that memorable day. It was the Buffalo Bills.

Nathan Chastain from Lenoir City, Tennessee
What will you guys do if Ryan Tannehill proves himself good in the playoffs and gets to the Super Bowl?

Jim: Well, I think a lot of folks would be pretty happy about this.

Michael Schlitz from Columbus, Georgia
Good morning Jim, I hope you're doing well and enjoy having our Team back at it. As always, I appreciate your hard work, dedication, and keeping us informed. Huge thank you for that.
I think the last time I wrote in was last year when asking about Aaron Brewer's progress. Great to see him competing for a starting role. Now I would like to ask your personal take on rookie Nicholas Petit-Frere? I've seen plenty of updates on the other rookies but little on how he's doing and adjusting to the NFL/Titans. Is he competing well, does he look like a solid depth piece, or what does he need to improve on? Thanks again for your observations.

Jim: Hey Michael. Thanks for writing in. It looks like Brewer is going to win the starting job at left guard. As for Petit-Frere, well, it looks like he could pull the upset and earn a starting spot as well. I say this because I always looked at the right tackle spot as Dillon Radunz's job to lose, and from the look of things, I think NPF has overtaken him in the competition. But, keep in mind, the roster building process will include cuts, along with the possibility of waiver claims, trades, etc. NPF has gotten better, but heading into camp I never considered him a huge threat to win the job for Week One. Make no mistake, he's a good athlete with skills, but I thought he'd need more time to develop his technique. In reality, he probably does. Whether he gets it – or he gets thrown into the fire on September 11 – will be determined soon.

David Garton from Coventry, England
Hi Jim, Sorry if this has been asked before or has been published over in America but i have been looking to see what length of contact was given to Mike Vrabel & Jon Robinson it was announced they extended their contacts in February & would be here for years to come but I can't see anything anywhere?

Jim: Hi David. Well, I never saw where the lengths of the extensions were reported, and the team didn't make that information available. I think it's safe to say those guys are going to be here for a while, though.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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