FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The waiting is almost over.
After clinching a playoff spot last week in Houston, it's go-time in the postseason as the Titans face the New England Patriots on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
Let's knock out some questions – and answers – to help pass the time.
Here we go…
Dylan Nissen from Phoenix, Arizona
Question: Hey Jim! First of all just wanna congratulate the guys on making it into the tournament. It's been a tough month for us with some close losses to some good teams, proud of the fight I see in the team this year. Anyways, we saw MM8 make an appearance this Sunday and take a couple snaps. I was just wondering if Ryan had an equipment failure/other reason he had to come out, or if we can expect to see Marcus in the playoffs or if that was a one time thing? Speaking of Marcus, want to thank him for the hard work and his grit as a Titan. Seems a lot of fans have forgotten about the big block in K.C. or the stiff arm against the Jaguars, but he was a tough player and leader and wherever he ends up, wish him the best! Thanks Jim! Go Titans!
Jim: Hey Dylan. No equipment failure for Ryan. Marcus was in there for two plays by design. It's something the team worked on leading up to the game. Will we see more against the Patriots? Well, kickoff is set for 7:15 CT, 8:15 ET. Stay tuned …
James Gordon from Spring Hill, Tennessee
Question: I was watching the Chiefs game and was thinking how I really didn't like how we match up with them and would prefer to face the Patriots. Well, my wish came true. But how crazy is this to be wishing to play the Patriots at their home field! What are your thoughts about who we match up with better and why? They don't have a speed guy like K.C so not having Jackson is not nearly as critical. I think we just need to double Edelman and play man on the outside. Then, make sure Jayon Brown sticks like glue to RB's out of the backfield. If we do that, I don't see the Patriots hurting us.
Jim: Hey James. I've heard a lot of folks say that. Can the Titans win this game tonight against the Patriots? Yes. But you're not going to see me write here that the team was lucky to get the Patriots, a team that has broken more hearts and crushed more dreams than the high school homecoming queen. There's a reason they have so many trophies in Foxborough. The Titans are going to have to play extremely well against a team that's battle tested, with the best head coach and quarterback in NFL history.
Jabari Jackson from Merced, California
Question: I'm back, not with a question but to eat that ever so delicious Ryan Tannehill crow. I thought that we could do better as far as back up QBs are concerned, boy was I wrong. Tannehill has been lights out. The boys are in the playoffs with a chance to knock off Tom Brady and Bill Belichick it doesn't get much better than that for me as a fan. I think I hate losing to the Patriots almost as much as I love my Tennessee Titans. Oh I lied, what also makes this such a wonderful playoff scenario is that the game is on Saturday and I don't have to sneak to the bathroom during church 1 million times so my wife doesn't catch me trying to check the score during worship.
Jim: Hey Jabari. You're in a long line of folks who doubted Tannehill, so don't feel bad. I don't know of too many people who saw his remarkable 2019 season coming. I thought he was capable of stepping in and playing well, but I wouldn't have forecasted him to lead the NFL in passer rating while breaking several franchise records. So all is good. And here's hoping you hit the daily double on Saturday night.
Jim Hill from Salisbury, North Carolina
Question: Is Adam Humphries going to be able to play @ New England? We hope!!!! Go Titans
Jim: Humphries has been ruled out for the contest, and receiver Kalif Raymond is doubtful. Everyone else is good to go.
Steven Diaz from Waterbury, Connecticut
Question: Hey Happy Holidays Jim. This weekend i will be going with my 11yr old son to gillette to watch the boys beat up the pats. I am from CT so i get a lot of slack from all the new englanders but we have beaten them in the past so Saturday wont be any different. So my question is since it will be my sons first game where would be a good place to possibly get an autograph or pic. We are sitting in the 127 section hope to see all the guys thank you and have a TITAN ole time these holidays
Jim: Hey Steven. Every road game is different, and I make no promises here. I always tell folks to get close to the tunnel where the players come onto and leave field in pregame warmups. It's your best bet, but at some stadiums the security won't let you down to the front rows if you don't have a ticket stub in that specific section. Good luck and give me a shout if you see me!
Adam Hyman from Orlando, Florida
Question: Hey Jim. What a year!! Quick question, I'm flying up from Orlando to watch the Playoff game vs New England and was wondering if the Titan Fans will be tailgating at a certain location?? Thanks for all the content! Adam
Jim: Hey Adam. Have a great trip. Here's your spot for tailgating with Titans fans: CLICK HERE.
Justin McPeek from Killingly, Connecticut
Question: Hey Jim, first time writer. Have a ton id love to ask on a serious and schematical level but im here for a pressing issue. Is there any word on a titans fan party in new england? Me and my wife are about an hour from foxboro and would love to join up with whatever titans fans are in the area. It was great being surrounded at the draft by titans fans but up here it seems like were alone. If there is some kind of event id love to know the info and get out and support our team!
Jim: Hey Justin. To join the party, see above.
Randy Porter from Hendersonville, Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim! All week, I've been reading comments from the social media trolls who insist on criticizing Coach Vrabel. It's typical and comes with the job. Coach couldn't care less and would never defend himself, which apparently is part of the latest criticisms. These self-appointed coaching analysts say he's "rude and short during pressers, a total jerk, has a bad attitude, etc..." In short, apparently Vrabel is not "personable" enough and forthcoming with information to reporters. Really?? Mike Vrabel has taken this team to the playoffs, yet that's not good enough. They now attack his demeanor at the microphone. Well let me point out, that Bill Belichick is not exactly "Mr. Giggles". To many, Belichick is grouchy, short with reporters and fans, and has the charm and personality of an ear infection! But, Bill Belichick is one of the best coaches the game has ever seen! Many other top coaches fit that same profile, including Mike Ditka, Bill Cowher and other coaches, who will never be doing stand-up comedy. Even Tom Landry was accused of having no personality. These men aren't hired to appease reporters or any of us at the microphone. They realize anything said publicly, goes straight to the opponent, not to mention any other information teams can "acquire". Coaches are hired to lead a team of professional athletes through a grueling season, with as much success as possible. Mike Vrabel is doing just that, even though it's clearly inadequate for the Gridiron Gods, lurking in social media forums. These keyboard coordinators who post their constant critique, have never coached a successful game in their life, including their best video game prowess. Yet, they spout their wisdom and insight, hoping a like-minded X-Box genius will agree with them and reward them with the coveted "thumbs-up". Point is, if you don't like this coach's interviews and pressers, don't watch them. But to constantly criticize the man you've never met, especially after making the playoffs, just shows your arrogance and stupidity. I'm betting, if they sat face to face with Coach Vrabel, these keyboard assassins wouldn't say ANY of what they post. Instead, they would sit meekly, realizing Coach Vrabel and possibly even Belichick, were friendly, caring, very personable men, who not only destroy their online characterization, but just might even meet the stringent standards, set by these thuggish critics. Again, Mike Vrabel will never address this himself, he's above that. But, I'm not above it and I think he deserves some defending. Happy New Year Jim and thank you for your weekly servings of fact and reality. Of course, that's what everyone posts isn't it?
Jim: Dang Randy, I couldn't have said it better. Well done.
Rick Smith from Union, Kentucky
Question: No questions, just a confession and a thank you. 1st my confession, I have been critical at times of Vrabels decisions this year but he has proven me wrong so I wanted to apologize before the game, no matter the outcome. Every coach makes decisions they would like to have back but if it was not for his decision-making I feel we would be last in the division and instead we are playing in the playoffs and everyone is talking good about us and I honestly feel we are taking down the Pats. My thank you is to you, you have given us Titans fans a place to group from all over the world, to vent, to get excited and just to communicate about our Titans. You do an incredible job and love your honest answers Happy New Year to you and all Titans fans, let's go to NE and show the world what we are about! TITAN UUUUUPPPP!!!!
Jim: Hey Rick. I really appreciate it. It's been a wild season here in the mailbag. Some good times, and bad times, to discuss. And I've let fans speak their mind in here, and I've tried to give honest answers. And we'll keep it going no matter what happens tonight.
Rob Cuellar from Laredo, Texas
Question: Hello Jim. Happy New Year from Laredo, Texas!! Wish you the very best in 2020.
I have been a die-hard Oilers/Titans fan since I was 7 years old. I enjoyed MNF especially with Earl Campbell when he would "bull doze" over all those wanting to tackle him. Derrick Henry reminds me of Big Earl! I enjoyed the Luv Ya Blue chants that I would see on TV.! My question or comment is — the Titans should not only have Big Derrick Henry run over the Pats secondary, but also have coaches pull all the stunts / some truck plays like "flea flicker or other. I even think they should put in Marcus Mariota for some plays and catch the Patriots off guard. Do you think that may occur?? I am hoping Titans will win big on Saturday night in Foxborough!! Titan Up — Go Titans!!! Thanks Jim! Rob
Jim: Hey Rob. I appreciate the email. Well, I get to watch practice, so I get to see what the team is working on leading up to each game. I've watched the prep leading up to tonight's game. I have to be careful in here not to give anything away, because I'm sure coach Belichick reads the mailbag each week. So I'll just answer "maybe." 😊
Ulysses Wilson from Humboldt, Tennessee
Question: Jim, Thanks for everything this year, this is my second time writing this year, I have a story rather a question this time. I remember the 2016 draft was coming up and I was talking with former Titan Donnie Nickey, he and I rode to Nashville together to go to training for the company we were working for at the time. Derrick Henry had won the Heisman and I told him we needed to draft Derrick, he told me no we needed a lineman (offensive). That draft we got Jack Conklin 8th pick but then in the second round we picked up Derrick Henry also, I was so happy because I felt we needed a running back. That draft was a very good draft class that is performing very well. Kevin Byard, Tajae Sharpe, LaShawn Sims just to name a few these guys are playing their hearts out. I saw the story of Derrick Henry meeting the man with stage 4 cancer (John Loreant), before the game in Houston and I thought that was so beautiful and very nice of him. It just stands to reason why we needed him as a Titan. I am a fan that has been with them since they came to Tennessee a die-hard fan. All he has accomplished he deserves because I know he works hard and the whole offense put in a lot of work. Donnie took me over to the practice facility the day we were in Nashville but I couldn't go past the front entrance but it was nice to see that much. I was diagnosed with heart disease but I keep pushing and rooting for my Titans. So happy with the year we have had and the progress that has made by everyone involved. TITAN UP
Jim: Great story Ulysses. Thanks for sharing. And best to you. Take care of yourself so you can keep on rooting – and spotting talent!
Justin King from Canton, Georgia
Question: Thanks for providing quality and consistent coverage of the Titans. The offense has thrived since Tannehill took over. It helps that we've had a full season of the aggressive Derrick Henry, and that A.J. Brown is developing into an elite receiver. But Arthur Smith deserves just as much credit. It's incredible that we run more than any other team, yet have such a consistently explosive passive game. We're averaging nearly 10 yards per pass! Players make the plays but the scheme and balanced play calling go to Mr. Smith! Would love to get your thoughts on Arthur's first year so far. Thank you Jim
Jim: Hey Justin. Arthur has done a fantastic job. He's added new wrinkles each week, and regularly gotten a bunch of players involved.
These numbers are incredible, and speak for themselves:
• The Titans scored at least 35 points in five games in 2019. In franchise history, only the 1960 (five games) and 1961 (seven) teams scored 35 points five or more times prior to 2019.
• The Titans six games in 2019 with at least 400 yards tied for the third-best total in franchise history and the most since 1991 (six).
• The Titans scored 34 touchdowns on 45 red zone trips for an NFL-leading rate of 75.6 percent.
• The Titans' 75.6 percentage scoring touchdowns in the red zone was the NFL's third-best percentage since 1991 and the best percentage since the 2013 Denver Broncos (76.1).
• The Titans scored 22 touchdowns on 25 goal-to-go drives in 2019. Their rate of 88.0 percent in 2019 ranked first in the NFL.
• The Titans offense's 5,805 total net yards in 2019 ranked fourth in franchise history and amounted to the team's highest total since 1991 (5,987).
• The Titans' 2,223 rushing yards in 2019 were the most by the team since 2009 (2,592) and ranked seventh in franchise history.
All this on top of the fact quarterback Ryan Tannehill led the NFL in passer rating, and running back Derrick Henry won the league's rushing title.
Alex Law from Charlottesville, Virginia
Question: Hey Jim. I went up to the last Titans playoff game in New England and one of the coolest parts of the experience was Amy Adams Strunk taking the time to walk around the field and greet Titans fans that could make it down to the front railing. I don't know that I've ever met someone so successful that also came across as so humble and naturally likable. Anyway, I wanted to ask about Adam Humphries. I've followed the team closely (all the blogs and twitter and radio) for a long time and I can't remember an injury so shrouded in mystery. There hasn't been an estimated time to return since he hurt it. We don't even really know what the injury is beyond something with the ankle. I know you can't say anything out of school about it, but I was wondering why we haven't heard Adam talk about much of anything, injury aside? He was a great leader and voice in the locker room and in the community before the injury. Thanks Jim!
Jim: Hey Alex. Cool story about the owner. As for Humphries, he left the game against the Colts with the ankle injury. I remember the play when it happened. Adam has been a regular in the locker room on most Fridays, and I've talked to him about it. He's disappointed, and frustrated. He wishes he could be out there playing. But he's not going to give up specifics about the injury, and neither has coach Vrabel. The fact he hasn't been placed on Injured Reserve should tell you the team thinks there's a chance he could return at some point. But the season will have to continue past tonight to give him a chance. In the meantime, he's been rehabbing, and he's continued to be a voice in the receivers room despite the fact he hasn't been able to practice, or play.
Kelley Lang from New Albany, Indiana
Question: I'm a 20+ year fan of the Titans. I believe I read that the Patriots are 11-0 in the playoffs when playing a team whose QB has never had a playoff appearance. Tannehill hasn't appeared nervous or shaken in any of his regular season appearances. Do you think Ryan can maintain his composure in a playoff game? Thanks for taking the time, Jim!
Jim: Hey Kelley. It's crazy to think Ryan has appeared in 100 regular season games in his career, and never a playoff game. How he'll handle his first playoff game is a fair question, and we won't find out for sure until tonight. But he hasn't flinched in a lot of pressure-packed situations this season, guiding comebacks and responding to in-game adversity. So I expect him to rise to the occasion again tonight.
Chris Adams from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim! Just wondering if there's any rules about the timetables of players coming back off IR. I'm sure it's unrealistic, but outside of injury status, is there anything keeping Wake, Butler, or Walker from returning if we make a long playoff run?
Jim: Hey Chris. The Injured Reserve rules are this: Each team has an opportunity to recall two players from IR during a season. The Titans recalled defensive back Joshua Kalu from IR, and kicker Ryan Succop as well. So they've used their two, which means you won't be seeing Malcolm Butler, Cameron Wake, Delanie Walker or anyone else who is in Injured Reserve again this season.
Heather Mims from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: I would like to congratulate to our Titans football team on their win over Houston Texans. We are in the Playoffs woot woot. My question for you is that when we win against the Patriots can we have a playoff game here in Nashville at Nissan Stadium?
Jim: Hi Heather. Love the optimism. But as the No.6 seed, there's no scenario where the Titans could host a playoff game this season. The team will have to be road warriors.
Jonathan Leavitt from Riverside, California
Question: HAPPY NEW YEAR! Thanks for all that you do for all of us rabid fans who cannot get enough news of our beloved Titans! TITAN UP!!! As a fan of the team for over 25 years, and a MM8 fan since his days at Oregon; I was a little upset at the decision our coach made in week 7. However, looking back at the MM8 years, he was injured many times, had crucial pieces of his O-line were missing or injured, and mostly he's been hampered by an ever-changing coaching staff and game mentalities. I truly thought this would be his year, but the inconsistency of prior years plagued him again. In retrospect, Coach Vrabel's week 7 decision to make the change was the right one! RYAN TANNETHRILL has been an utter joy to watch! Coming off the bench he's got something to prove, and he is backing it up! Of course, it helps to have one of the most brutal and punishing backs the NFL has seen in recent years assisting the RPO's we've grown accustomed to. Add in the final ingredient of a young and hungry WR corps led by our rookie sensation and ROY candidate #11 AJ Brown... Wow just wow! It takes me back to the McNair/George/Dyson days! Always an exciting game, always on the cusp of a win deep into the 4th quarter! Our team is truly a joy to watch this year! I just know we can beat the Pats Saturday afternoon, and we know we can hang with the best the NFC has to offer--- after our #22-less performance vs the Saints. However, our next opponent due to seeding would be @ Ravens. ...and their defense and Lamar scare the heck out of me. How do you see that potential match up?
Going back to King Henry 2019 NFL Rushing Leader... During last week's game a commentator during the 4th quarter said that after hearing how close Derrick was to the title; Taylor Lewan went up and down the bench to fire up the O-line to attain this team goal. I saw nothing about this in the press. Can you please shed some light on this for us all?
Jim: Hey Jonathan.
Three quick answers:
- Thanks for taking the time, and for your comments.
- The offensive line was well aware of the fact Derrick was edging closer to the rushing title. They talked about it on the sideline, and in the huddle. Players talked about this in the locker room after the game.
- There's absolutely no way am I looking ahead to the Ravens and discussing how the team might match up with them before tonight's game against the Patriots.
Have a great Saturday everyone!