BALTIMORE – The memory of last Saturday's playoff win over the Patriots is now a week old, and folks are still excited about it.
But now bigger and better things are on the docket – a Divisional Round playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens here at M&T Bank Stadium.
Let's dive in as we count down to kickoff…
Raymond Coons from Saugerties, New York
Question: Long time Oilers /Titans fan. I wrote in after Denver loss not knowing what was in store for the remainder of the season. I must say I am very proud this team as they fought, scratched and clawed their way back to the playoffs. Not really a question but some nostalgic incite here... I remember when the Oilers were 12-4 winning their last 11 games in a row, with a tough Buddy Ryan defense favored to go to the Super Bowl and then were shocked by a Joe Montana led Chiefs team at home in the House Of Pain (ASTRODOME) in the divisional round after a bye. I feel sometimes it may be better to lose a game down the road at the end of a season than to have such a long stretch of winning football going into the playoffs. The Ravens are on a 12 game winning streak and to win 13 in a row is very difficult and almost unheard of. This is what the Ravens are facing. I remember back then going in after a bye thinking we won too many in a row at the end. I think Lamar Jackson will come out amped up and a little out of time with his receivers after having 2 weeks off. I think he will miss on some of his throws early (over throws etc). I believe the Titans must and can capitalize on this and take advantage and jump out to an early lead. Nobody outside the organization gives the Titans a chance in Baltimore. I believe that to win 13 in a row is tough to do and we have the team to shock them. Hope I am right and good luck to the Titans. T I T A N U P Lets go TITANS
Jim: Hey Raymond. Appreciate the feedback. Hey, it's going to be a tough task. The Ravens are really good, on offense, defense and special teams. Lamar Jackson is a special talent who is probably the MVP of the league, and I must say – he deserves it. But I remember that Oilers-Chiefs game, and I've seen plenty of No.1 seeds knocked off in the divisional round. Heck, I've seen it happen to the Titans twice against the Ravens. It's hard to say how the Ravens will come out after the bye, and really two weeks off since they rested their top starters in the season finale. We'll find out soon, but I know the Titans will be ready to play.
Christian Storey from Atlanta, Georgia
Question: Hey there, Jim. First time participating in 'Ask Jim' so I'm hoping I do it some justice. Couple of quick questions for yaL What is the feel and the words being spoken in the locker room this week? The guys surely are keeping a cool head, but should definitely be keeping recent memories close to mind about how good they usually do when all eyes are on the opponent (Pats, Eagles, Cowboys, Chiefs to name a few in the last couple seasons). And secondly, is Jayon's health cause for concern? In my mind, he's the only guy who would be able to spy or contain Lamar if needed. Without him, the middle of the field could look mighty nice for the star QB. That's all I got, hope we can get it done this week against a young QB who, coming off two weeks without a game, could make some nervous mistakes that the boys would HAVE to take advantage of for a chance. TitanUP
Jim: Hey Christian. Guys are locked in. After the game on Saturday vs the Patriots players were excited, but already turning their attention to the Ravens. No one is satisfied with one playoff win. As for Jayon, he's been ruled out for the game. Look for David Long Jr. and Wesley Woodyard to be in the mix alongside Rashaan Evans.
David Belgarde from Dunseith, North Dakota
Question: Do you think the Titans can win on Saturday night?
Jim: Yes. The Titans will have to play well, but yes.
John Clark from Hampton, Virginia
Question: Hey Jim all I can say is I'm proud our team, the staff the organization as a whole. I hope they game plan and get ready for the blitz package. The Ravens are gonna play all four quarters and how to contain Jackson from getting out of the pocket? This game is gonna come down to who has the ball longer and better protection on the offense line.
Jim: Hey John. A lot of keys in this game. The biggest one for me is the Titans need to be able to sustain drives on offense, and score touchdowns when they get in the red zone. By doing so, they'd also be able to keep Jackson and the Baltimore offense off the field.
Max Gilliam from Tampa, Florida
Question: Hey Jim, with RG3, Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram and THE BEAST Derrick Henry playing this week, have there ever been 4 Heisman Trophy winners play in the same NFL game? Go Titans! And TitanUp from Tampa!
Jim: Hey Max. There's one more you're forgetting – Marcus Mariota. I can't ever remember there being so many Heisman Trophy winners scheduled to be on the field for the same game.
Tony Johnson from Ewa Beach, Hawaii
Question: Aloha Jim! Great game by our boys in Foxboro, looking forward to the game vs the Ravens in what should be an interesting matchup. I'm gonna jump forward in time a little bit to the offseason. From what I've seen the last 2+ months, the offseason priorities for the Titans are clear. #1 - Resign Ryan Tannehill, he's breathed a new life into this offense. #2 - Extend Derrick Henry, he's arguably the best RB in the league and we need to keep him in Nashville. If this is done, they can focus on free agency and the draft to add depth to the O-line, the secondary, and add another pass rusher. Your thoughts?
Jim: Who could argue with this? Getting Logan Ryan back under contract also sounds like a good plan to me…
Tim Dalessandro Palm Springs, California
Question: What sticks out of the back of Derrick Henry's head??
Jim: His hair. I asked him about it several weeks ago and he said he hasn't cut it since he was in middle school.
Taylor Gimino from Chicago, Illinois
Question: Hey Jim. More of a story than a question here. As a kid living in Chicago, I was 9 years old when I saw the Music City Miracle on tv. I thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen and have been a diehard fan for the past 20 years. Throughout those 20 years, I can count on two hands, with a finger or two to spare, the amount of times I've run in to other Titans fans in the area.
This past Sunday morning after the big win I was my local Whole Foods wearing my Titans gear and had a kid about 8 or 9 walk in my direction and yell "Go Titans. They were awesome!"
I can't help but feel like last weekend's victory against the evil empire, with 90% of US households in our corner, is going to create a new generation of out of state Titans fans in the same way that Miracle did for me all those years ago. And I don't think this team is done yet!
Jim: Great story, Taylor. Thanks for sharing from the Windy City!
Connor O'Leary from Cleveland, Ohio
Question: Hey Jim. Do the Titans intend on utilizing Marcus in the offense more? In the last two weeks, we saw Marcus go in for one play. I'm a Marcus fan, so I just wanted to know if we were going to try to do what the Saints are doing, or is Marcus just going in when Tannehill is tired? Thanks!
Jim: Hey Connor. Marcus has played in three snaps to be exact – two vs. the Saints, and once vs. the Patriots. And he's entered the game as part of a package installed for him, not because Tannehill was tired. Will we see him again on Saturday night? Well, stay tuned…
Louis N from Newington Connecticut
Question: Hello Jim. First time writing but just had to write in because I am so excited. I am a long-time Titan fan. So happy were we are at this season, especially after the beginning of the season when people were saying fire everyone including Amy. My best friend is a Patriots season ticket holder and he usually asks me to go whenever the Titans are playing there. I was at the playoff game in 2003-04 boy was it cold! I had a long walk to the car from that game. The fan base up here is strong and anyone visiting knows it is a tough place. I must give a shout out to our fans they came out strong! I saw them tailgating, in the stadium and even made a Titan friend waiting in line for food! My friend has seats under the visiting coach's box! I have to admit I was scared at the goal line and after we held them I have to admit the fan base changed and I was shouting to Dean Pees even though I know he could not hear me. I have faith in our defense … but we have a challenge in Baltimore. There is a lot of history with Baltimore (Eddie George and Lewis era ) if you are a long-time Titan fan. I believe the greatest chance we have to win this game is to keep our offense on the field eating clock or scoring points. I know King Henry was hungry and you need to keep feeding him but I felt like our passing game was off and I think we are going to need a strong pass attack to spread Baltimore's defense and open holes for Henry. I was wondering about the health of our receivers Humphries and Raymond! BTW loved the walk to the car after this game!
Jim: Appreciate you writing in Louis! You're right about the Titans fans in Foxborough – the turnout was great, and they were enthusiastic, and loud. I was happy to see them rewarded. As for the Titans-Ravens series, I contend the Titans and their fans have never had feelings stirred up like they were in games past against the Ravens. And some of those feelings have bubbled back up this week. I'm with you 100 percent on the key to success. As for Humphries and Raymond, Humphries is out and Raymond is good to go. And walka' proud!
Jeremy Rodriguez from San Diego, California
Question: Jim, what a great time to be a Titans fan!! The year seemed doomed and then Tannehill help to reignite this offense and Henry literally carried this team to Baltimore! I am walking with my head up and chest out and screaming TITAN UP!! I know going into Baltimore is tough and the "experts" will say the Titans have no chance, it's the Lamar Jackson show; all I say to that is, Lamar can't beat you if he can't get on the field. With our great running game, the way it eats up the clock, I think we will see Lamar the most vulnerable because he will be forced to pass more with less clock and our 3-4 will contain him... I HOPE!! What a way to kick off 2020!!!! TITAN UP
Jim: I like the enthusiasm Jeremy!
David Copelin from Upper Marlboro, Maryland
Question: Looking forward to Saturday's game vs. Baltimore. I'm probably the only Titans fan at the hospital I work for, so I'm ready for the WIN as the underdog. I was wondering if OC Arthur Smith has a plan to get A.J. Brown more involved this game, maybe including some slant routes, pic plays or quick screens to get him going? D. Henry was a BEAST for us but he can't do it alone so my hope is that he (Arthur Smith) has a plan to draw up some plays that spreads the ball to not just our playmakers, but "X" factors such as Jonnu, Tajae Kalif Raymond, etc. I think Arthur Smith can be creative against a stubborn Ravens defense. What are your thoughts??? If Arthur Smith needs some great plays, have him to e-mail me....I got a few plays in mind!!! #TitanUP #NoFEAR
Jim: Hey David. I think A.J. will be more involved this week, because I think the passing game will have to be more effective to win this week. Unless, of course, the Titans have big success in the running game with Henry again, and in that case, I'd keep handing it off to No. 22…
Darin Wood from Bountiful, Utah
Question: Hey Jim! When is Vrabel eligible for a long-term extension? Is it just me or is this team not extremely well coached? I am not afraid to admit i was wrong when i had doubts about Vrabel when he was hired.
Jim: Hey Darin. Don't feel bad, there were fans who had doubts about him after Week 6. Go back and check the mailbags from early October and a lot of folks were wanting him and everyone else with the team fired. He got a pretty lengthy contract when he took over, so he's going to be around a while.
Justin Riley from Fremantle, Western Australia
Question: Firstly, will preface my question with the disclaimer that am more a Mariota fan than Titans fan but came aboard 5 years ago and have stuck fat since. I would appreciate your view on the following. The media particularly this year have gone with the narrative that Mariota is finished as he is too inconsistent, too conservative, too injury prone, holds on to ball too long etc etc all fair observations. There has also been mention of the HC and OC carousel that that has existed at the Titans since he arrived also a well-made argument. Then there is mention of the inconsistency of the OL and its inability to protect him, also true. What is not spoken about enough is the undisputed fact that Taylor Lewan the moron got himself a four-week suspension for PEDS and then when he returns he was dead set pathetic in his initial 2 games back. Countless penalties killed drives and momentum. It is no surprise that Lewan has been much better from his 3rd game back which aligned with the decision to promote Tannehill. I am not saying this is the be all and end all just that it seems missing your most important player on the OL and then have him playing like a third stringer when he returns probably did play on the mind of Mariota and I feel if a decision had of been made in the preseason to start Tannehill we most likely could have ended up where we are now with Ryan being benched and Marcus taking over. Anyway looking forward to the game this week and believe we are a real chance to progress
Jim: Hey Justin. Thanks for weighing in from Down Under. G'Day! I'm going to be blunt here. The media's take on Mariota -- he is too inconsistent, too conservative, too injury prone, holds on to ball too long, as you said – became the narrative because all of it has been partly true. It's hard for me to believe that three months after Tannehill took over, and after he's helped guide the Titans to an 8-3 record, the emails continue to roll in from "Mariota fans" either making excuses for him, or taking away from what Ryan has done. Don't get me wrong – I like and respect Marcus, hope he does well, and I think he still has the potential to be successful in the NFL. I'm pulling for him. He's one of the classiest people I've ever been around. And with all the changes around him, he didn't have an ideal situation to develop. But the reason Marcus Mariota was benched in favor of Tannehill is because Marcus Mariota didn't play well enough to keep his job. It's really that simple. Marcus hasn't made any excuses -- he has said this himself. And the Titans were pretty darn fortunate they had Tannehill on the team to step in, jumpstart the offense, and guide the team into the postseason.
Paul Sprouse from Lexington, North Carolina
Question: Hi, Jim...first time writer, but long-time Titans fan since the move to Nashville. I appreciate your time and efforts! I just read an article on NFL.com that Brady was playing through a foot injury and tennis elbow during the wild card game vs. the Titans. Still no love for the Titans who clearly played a superior game vs. the long-time dynasty. If Brady was that bad off, he should have been benched and his backup should have taken it, but because it's TOM BRADY, exceptions and in this case, excuses are made to dismiss the Titans great game. Oh well, Titans are moving on...that's what counts! Do you think Tannehill will be able to increase the pass game efficiency vs. the Ravens? GO TITANS!
Jim: Hey Paul. First off on Brady – he was fine physically. Everyone is playing injured and banged up at this time of the year. I'm betting he wasn't making any excuses. As for Tannehill, yeah, I think he'll play more of a role. The main thing is the Titans just don't need to turn the ball over. And even though Tannehill's numbers weren't eye-catching, he still made a heck of a throw to Firkser for the touchdown, and the big third down conversion late.
Hunter Phelan from South Pasadena, California
Question: Hi Jim !!! Wow what a game! So proud of this TEAM. I wrote in before the season telling you how I bet my 12-team fantasy league 20 bucks each we would win at least 11 games. I was laughed at, and called delusional by my fellow fantasy mates. Well even @ 2 -4 I told them all we would come back. Long story short I lost the bet. But they are all eating crow now watching the TITANS advance to the second round of the playoffs.
I lost my father to cancer this last August. He was an Oiler fan then Texan fan. I stuck with the Oilers and then Titans. We always had friendly banter through the years. I flew down to Houston when news was looking pretty bleak. I was blessed to say goodbye. It was at the third preseason game, and can't remember who the Texans were playing, but we put the game on with him barely lucid. Poor guy could tell was suffering, but having the game on gave him some peace. My Aunt who was there with us asked "Hunter aren't you Titans fan ?" Which I said yes! I looked down at my dad in his bed, and he had made a fist with a thumbs down. He couldn't talk but it was his way of showing that friendly banter. He passed the next morning. He loved football more than anything as I do as well. I can't help but think he and the man upstairs are guiding our favorite teams to a great run. Wouldn't be something if its TEXANS vs TITANS in the AFC championship? 20 years ago we lost the heartbreaking game to those pesky RAVENS. Time to return the favor! Thanks for letting me rant JIM!!! Once again thanks for all that you do. Happy New Year to you fine Sir!!! GO TITANS!!!
Jim: Hey Hunter. For starters, I'm really sorry to hear about your father. But I know you have so many great memories of him and with him and know he will always be with you in spirit. And I'm sure he'll be looking down from heaven tonight hoping the Titans make his fine son happy. The Titans do still owe the Ravens, so hopefully that's coming. And sign me up for a Titans-Texans AFC title game!
Tristan Melton from Greenville, South Carolina
Question: First of all, congrats to the whole organization for the huge win in foxboro. It was a great game, hard fought. Now looking forward to Baltimore who myself and many believe to be the favorites to win the super bowl, how do we match up to the ravens? As hard as the game against New England was and rightfully so, I think we have our toughest matchup ahead, rest up and titan up! Thanks
Jim: Hey Tristan. Not going to sit here and say it's going to be an easy matchup, because the Ravens are really good. Looking for reasons to be optimistic? Well, the Ravens might be ranked 5th overall against the run, allowing just 93.4 yards per game. But they're just 21st vs the run as it relates to rushing average. Why the discrepancy? Well, I just think a lot of teams abandoned the run against them because they fell so far behind. If the Titans can run the ball with success, it will be tight. Defensively, the Titans need to limit Lamar Jackson's big plays on the ground and force him to beat them throwing it in 3rd and 8 situations. One more nugget: The Titans and Ravens have faced one another three times in the playoffs, and the road team has won all three times.
Greg Cushman from Salem, New Hampshire
Question: Hi Jim, I became an Oiler fan at the age of 12 when the Oilers drafted Earl and stuck with them when they moved to TN. As a lifelong Boston area resident I have been so sick and tired of the Patriots and their spoiled fans. There are a few of us here, the Hatriots as we like to refer to ourselves. A few weeks ago I brewed up a Pale Ale but was struggling to come up with a name for it. Once the planets aligned to give us the WC matchup in Foxboro the name came to me, GOATBusters Pale Ale - I ain't afraid of no GOATS! I tapped it on game day and managed to convince a couple of my Patsy friends to watch the game at my house. Revenge is sweet! In my opinion if anyone is on a Revenge Tour it would be us. Who cares about regular season losses, the Titans/Oilers have been beaten by the Patriots, Ravens and Chiefs in the playoffs many times, some of which when we were big favorites, losing to Chiefs and an aging Montana still haunts me. I don't expect us to beat the Ravens, I think we will need everything to go our way, limit the penalties and win the turnover battle and somehow contain Jackson. Tall order but crazier things have happened, maybe it is our time to be on the other side of the fence. Keep up the good work! Go Titans!!!
Jim: Appreciate it Greg. Turn one up for me! Cheers!
Ben Gilbert from Lexington, Kentucky
Question: Hey Jim. First time writer and long-time reader for your mailbag! I love reading your insights and appreciate you taking on the job of hearing from the fans (both the good and the bad).
My question for you: Do you think we can rewrite some wrongs this Saturday? When it comes to the Ravens and the playoffs they seem to play spoiler a lot. I think back to 2008 when WE were the #1 seed in the AFC and LOST by the same score we beat the Ravens by in the regular season (13-10)! Do you think we can beat them like they did to us a decade ago? If so Jim, what do you think will be the single greatest key for the Titans to come out of Baltimore with a win?
Jim: Hey Ben. I touched on the keys a little earlier, as well as the rivalry against the Ravens. But you sound like a lot of other fans who have had to deal with the pain of past playoff losses to the Ravens. I still think the 2000 team was the best Titans team ever, and I think the 2000 and 2008 teams that lost to the Ravens as the No.1 seed were both capable of winning the Super Bowl. Those two losses rank among the most excruciating losses in Titans history. I do think the Titans have a chance to get some payback, but it's going to take a complete game.
Jeff Pedneau from Olney, Maryland
Question: I am a longtime Oiler/Titan fan, dating back to the Luv Ya Blue days, living for the past 30 years in Maryland, just a few miles from Baltimore. I have followed the team faithfully even after moving away from the Houston area and then later when they moved to Nashville to become the Titans. However, last year when the Patriots won the AFC Championship game, I said "That's enough – I'm sick of this, and I'm not watching football anymore until the Patriots are done." And true to my word, I did not watch last year's Super Bowl, nor did I watch any more than one game this entire season (Titans vs Saints when my dad from Louisiana was visiting for Christmas). But I did finally tune in on Saturday and got to watch the Titans finish off the Patriots – which….was….awesome. Thank you for that! That avenged the 2003 and 2017 teams. But the job is not done – this week, the Titans have the opportunity to go into Baltimore and do what they did to our team twice (2000 and 2008). Scoff in the face of their home-field advantage and please – GO STEAL THEIR SUPER BOWL!! Thanks for reviving hope in a faltering fan -- GO TITANS
Jim: Hey Jeff. Glad to have you back. Stick around!
Siddiq Haqq from Memphis, Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim, first and foremost Go TITANS!!! Followed by a thanks Jim for the time you invest in keeping us presumably informed about our beloved Titans.
Now to address the situation at hand. I've been a Titan fan since 1999 when they had to play their first couple of home games in Memphis...I could remember literally crying tears of rage twice within this tenure of being a Titan Size...Once with the short coming of a super bowl we were "LITERALLY" in arms reach of winning via Kevin Dyson's extra but failed attempt to score....the other being the upset of a bland but Ray Lewis led Ravens Defense that made us turn over the ball 4 times in the RED ZONE. Who had to hurt CJ2k in order to remotely have a chance...not to mention the end of the game, the last drive Flacco clearly threw the ball while 0 was on the play clock all of 2 seconds it seemed that ultimately set up the kick that sealed our faiths once again...it hurt worse that time though cause we were snubbed at home...
Yet Once again riddled by injuries and counted out against, what will it take from our guys to David vs. Goliath these Damned Ravens and NFL Mob Members (lol)...who seem to exude pessimism for a team as resilient as ours have been when being a underdog.
Jim: Hey Siddiq. You're another member of the club with bad memories of the Ravens. And believe me, I understand. Those were gut-punch losses for the Titans. The Titans are a big underdog heading in, not given a chance by a lot of the so-called experts. But the playoffs are different than the regular season, and you never know how things are going to play out for sure. I've touched on what I think it will take in here, but the reality is the Titans will have to play well. But it's a game the team can win. I mentioned this in Tuesday's mailbag – the Ravens lost the Browns and Chiefs earlier this season, two teams the Titans beat. I know it was a long time ago, and I know the Ravens have improved since then. But so have the Titans.
Bill Holton from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Question: Hello, Jim, on the heels of the biggest win in years. I know Henry is doing his thing and getting lots of deserved love, but I wanted to give some love to some folks that aren't getting the recognition they should. First off, I was skeptical of hiring another OC with no play calling experience, but Art has grown as much as anyone this year in the organization and is doing a great job. Secondly, Henry wouldn't be doing this if the OLine wasn't doing their job at a high level. Watch the highlights of our line bully the stout NE D from the opening drive. None were more impressive than Davis, who took some lumps early in the season. He's really rounded into form. And I think the sacks and penalties by the OLine has improved. This was the most dominant start I've seen from this team in a while and I hope they keep it going early in Baltimore. On to the next big test. Titan Up fans!!! Winning January football is what we've all craved. Let's hope Winter Storm Henry still has a heavy effect in the MD area Saturday. Winter is coming!
Jim: A lot of good vibes in the mailbag this weekend.
Have a great Saturday everyone!