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New Year's Day Mailbag: Jim Wyatt Answers Questions From Titans Fans Ahead of Sunday's Game vs Dolphins

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NASHVILLE – Happy New Year!

And, welcome to the playoff push for the Tennessee Titans, who are in a win-and-in playoff scenario on Sunday against the Dolphins.

Actually, if the Titans win, they're the AFC champs for the second straight year.

Since you're here, you're already #winning.

Let's do this …

Here's the link to ask questions: CLICK HERE.

Paul Guerra from Donna, Texas
Question:
Hello Jim, A couple of questions Boss. What's the status on David Long? And I'm curious on what the Titans mindset is with such a stout LB crew. I mean like who should be the starters?

Jim: Boss? Hey, I like that, Paul. … Some good news here: David Long returned to practice this week after a long absence. He practiced in full all week, which is a great sign. It's going to be interesting to see what happens moving forward at the position. David Long was playing really well before his injury. After watching Zach Cunningham the past few games, he needs to be on the field. I think he's the team's best inside backer now. But Rashaan Evans has been playing well, and same for Jayon Brown in his new role. But Jayon is now on the COVID list. I think they'll all have a chance to play in some capacity. Having so many good players at one position is not a bad problem to have, huh, Boss?

Scott Ainley from Shawnee, Kansas
Question:
Hey Jim. Appreciate the time you give to the fans. I've been a fan of this organization since I was 10 (1988 Season). It is tough being a Titans fan in the "Chiefs Kingdom", I have and will remain steadfast in my love of this team. First off, I can't get enough of our defense! In today's NFL of up tempo, high octane offenses, our defense continues to gel and batter opponents. Even in our losses, the defense has been a bully. We MUST continue to hit the QB with our front four and keep contain. Mahomes and Allen love to play off script and ad lib out of the pocket, keep them in there and apply pressure, like all qb's, they are a lessor version of themselves. Obvious statement about the defense, now my question. With the o-line struggling in pass protection this year, do you think we will be an emphasis on max protecting Tannehill going forward and rely on our receiving core and Tight ends to get open with added seconds? Thanks again Jim!

Jim: A think a lot of things are in play here. Protecting Tannehill will be paramount moving forward. The Titans have to keep him healthy, and he has to have time to operate. The Titans need to get their o-line back at full strength, and those guys will have to be better. But if the Titans can get No.22 back at some point … and the running game can be even better … then that will help a lot of things, including the protection. The Dolphins present a big challenge on Sunday because they've been sacking QBs at an impressive clip. Thanks for reading, Scott.

James Clark from McMinnville, Tennessee
Question:
I'm curious if you can provide any further insight into why the Titans waived hot offseason acquisition WR Josh Reynolds. I understand Reynolds may have a certain chemistry with QB Jared Goff in Detroit since the two played together for the Rams. That said, Reynolds looks fast, explosive out of his breaks, and has shown he can make tough catches in traffic. He has helped the Lions woeful offense look much better and he can actually finish a football game without hamstring issues. It makes me think Reynolds could have made an impact for the Titans, who struggle when A.J. Brown is out of the lineup.

Jim: Hey James. Well, it's complicated. Josh had some bad luck from an injury standpoint when he first got here. He battled an Achilles injury in camp, which put him behind. When everyone was healthy, he was probably 5th or 6th on the depth chart. He just wasn't very impressive when he was here, but part of that could have been because of his nagging injuries. The Titans were on the verge of getting healthy at WR. ... But unfortunately, when he was waived, the Titans got hit hard again with injuries at the position with A.J. Brown, Marcus Johnson (now out for season) and Julio Jones having another setback. So yeah, the team could've used him. And yes, he has been pretty good in Detroit. The reality is if the Titans can get keep A.J., Julio, Westbrook-Ikhine and Chester Rogers healthy, Josh won't be missed.

Jackson Weber from Irvine, California
Question:
Hey Jim, I feel like we need to get rid of Todd Downing. Not saying he's a terrible guy but honestly his play calling is so bad. Running the ball on 3rd down and 18 doesn't make sense. What's your thoughts on this?

Jim: Todd Downing is not going anywhere Jackson. No play-caller is perfect, but as this guy continues to take shots from critics, I keep thinking to myself how much easier his job would be if he had Derrick Henry, Julio Jones, A.J. Brown and a healthy offensive line to work with week in and week out, which was the plan. We all know that hasn't been the case.

Franky Markle from Dyersburg, Tennessee
Question:
Are you ready? This is the Tannehill revenge game. His first shot at Miami since becoming a Titan. I know players say it's just another game, but is it really? I think we see him show up and show out!! What are your thoughts?

Jim: I think Ryan Tannehill is more concerned with winning the game and getting the Titans into the playoffs than anything else. This is no revenge game, as Tannehill said himself.

Jim Allen from Nashville, Tennessee
Question:
It seems to me that the Titans are having a lot of trouble playing 4 quarters of football. They seem too often to start flat and come back in the last half. Or start out fast and go scoreless in the second half. When we play 4 quarters it's hard for anyone to stay with us. What do you think? Also. The way they are using Julio Jones reminds me of how we signed Randy Moss and rarely ever threw him the ball. It's sad. Go Titans!

Jim: Hey Jim. I think this could be said for a lot of teams. The Titans have been slow out of the gate a number of times this year, but the important thing is they've rallied a bunch. Let's look at the overall scoring numbers, just for fun. First quarter: Titans 54, Opponent 56. Second quarter: Titans 136, Opponent 109. Third quarter: Titans 65, Opponent 74. Fourth quarter: Titans 96, Opponent 84. Overtime: Titans 6, Opponent 3. … Julio has been more productive than Randy was in Tennessee, but I have to admit, he has made a minimal impact of late.

Janet R Brewer from Lenoir City, Tennessee
Question:
Please pass this on to my guys. I watched the Dolphins beat up on the Saints quarterback with complete disgust. In my opinion, that is bullying, not playing football. Any team that feels the need to win in that manner earns my complete disgust. To go after a quarterback play after play after play is too deplorable for words. I sincerely hope that my Titans can beat the absolute snot out of the Dolphins by playing regular football.

Jim: Hi Janet. The Dolphins beat up on the Saint because they couldn't protect their quarterback, and their QB in that game, rookie Ian Book, looked lost. That's on the Saints – not the Dolphins. Now the Titans have to make sure that doesn't happen to them on Sunday.

Zach Barrett from Winnipeg, Canada
Question:
I think I speak for many Lewan gotta go after this season. He's played how many games last 3 seasons and for how much he's making, gotta show some worth or go. Did you see Radunz vs Bosa matchup, Radunz won that and looked pretty solid throughout the night even Brewer show future promise.

Jim: Or, you speak for Zach Barrett, which is fine. I welcome opinions. Hey, I know some fans don't love Lewan. I see it on social media, and in here. But when he's played this year, he's played well for the most part. He had a terrible game in the opener, and he's gotten beat on some snaps. But I'd rather have him at left tackle than a lot of guys playing the position across the league. And, based on the Pro Bowl voting process, where he was elected a second alternate, a lot of coaches and players agree. I don't know what's going to happen with Lewan next year. But the guy is not all bad. And there's no doubt he's the team's best option at left tackle on the current roster.

Adam Kanode from Herndon, Virginia
Question:
Hey Jim. I wanted to follow up to Tuesdays question from Pono/give the fans a (maybe) needed perspective on Julio. It's my thought process that Julio came into camp injured. Then he got healthy, and RT was out for a little. Then the season started, there was more injuries, practices slowed down to heal guys and Julio has been underwhelming. That doesn't give Julio and RT a lot of time to practice full speed with each other and get on the same page. That chemistry is important. Julio has shown he could make big plays when targeted, so he SHOULD help this post season and then off season, he and RT will have time to form that bond. I believe next year will be much different in terms of production out of him. On another note, huge game by our O-line against the 49ers. Another big game against a pretty good Miami front, so good luck to them!

Jim: Good to hear from you Adam.

Laura Pippin from Cookeville, Tennessee
Question:
What is the number of players allowed on the practice squad? Do they leave a position open for emergency signing or waive a player to add a player? Thanks for your time' Laura

Jim: Hi Laura. The total number allowed on the practice squad is 16. And, with COVID, spots are available for teams to add players while putting guys on the COVID list until they're better.

Daniel Ponce from Rockford, Illlinois
Question:
Hi Jim, first time writing to you. Long time Oiler/Titan fan and have reading this column for about a year. Thank you for all you do. I am so pleased to see so many Titan fans on here from all over the world; makes me feel not so all alone here in Northern Illinois. I was just surprised to see a fan on Tuesday's mailbag calling for the firing of Mike Vrabel. This is a man who has turned us around and got us one game away from the Super Bowl a couple years back. Then came back and won the division (first time since 2008) and on the verge of winning the division again this year (Hopefully!) and maybe have the best record in the AFC! And that's without King Henry for most of the year, now that says a lot. Now don't get me wrong, I was yelling at my TV for a TO when the Bills were moving the ball inside the red zone at the end of the game and begging Vrabel to conserve time thinking they were gonna score! But Vrabel stayed cool and we won; That's why I'm not an NFL coach. I have learned to trust in him and his game plan. He truly does give us the best chance to win! So, I guess my question is: Could you please apologize to Mr. Vrabel for such comments and that I am very proud to have him as our Leader on the field? Thank you. TitanUp!

Jim: Hey Daniel. I'll let him know. I don't think he gets his feelings hurt easily, though

Nico B from Bonn, Germany
Question:
Hey Jim, wanted to write to you for a while now, but never got around to it. But this guy, claiming that we should get rid of Vrabel after the season was just too much. Although he most likely is a troll and not really worth being responded to, I wholeheartedly disagree with him in every way. I just love coach Vrabel and what he is doing with the Titans so much, and feel like the Titans should try to keep him as long as possible and luckily it feels like Amy does see it the same way. He will earn at least one Lombardi trophy (as a head coach) and I just hope it will be with the Titans. He is the best coach I've seen with the Titans so far (following all of their games since the 2009 season) and he is the first coach I watch every single press conference of (I also really like the Coach Vrabel Show, btw :) ). His preaching of fundamentals obviously makes the whole team and even the guys on the practice squad so much better and it is now very hard to outplay and trick the Titans, even if we are playing with backups or their backups. It now feels like that if you want to beat the Titans, they have to do it themselves (I'm looking at you, turnover ratio in those losses :) ). Best wishes to you, the Titans, coach Vrabel, King Henry and his return after our first round bye ;) and to all the fans. We are going to win it in the near future.

Jim: Happy New Year, Nico!

Stephanie Neu from Kingston, Tennessee
Question:
Hi Jim. Any update on Derrick Henry returning? Thank you.

Jim: It's now 2022, and I hear No. 22 is up and walking around…

Ron Dilbeck from Ducktown, Tennessee
Question:
Hey Jim. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for consistently keeping us informed on our beloved Titans. My question concerns Mason Kinsey. I know he was called up to the active roster once this year but then was relegated back to the practice squad. I realize call-ups are based on injuries and need but do you get any information about how guys on the practice squad progress or regress while they are there? Sure would like to see this kid get another opportunity before the season ends.

Jim: Hey Ron. Mason is working hard. He's been good in practices, helping the defense get a good look each week as on the scout team. Coach Vrabel gave him a really nice compliment this week, saying he's been the "show team" player of the week several weeks. He's made road trips too, which has been a good experience for him. I can't promise you he's going to play again this year. But I can promise you he's doing everything he can to get himself noticed.

Carol Thomas from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Question:
There are rumors abound concerning Derrick's return for the last regular season game or the playoffs in January. If any of these rumors are true is there concern about whether or not it is too soon for Derrick to return?? I remember what happened years ago to RGIII of the Washington Redskins (team name at the time) when he was injured, although not the same kind of injury as Derrick's, but he came back too soon BEFORE he had ample time to heal properly. Griffin was never the same and eventually he was released. As much as I would love to see Derrick back on the field to increase our chances in the playoffs if it means he's not COMPLETELY healed then I hope he will be allowed to take whatever time is needed for him to comeback healthy and able to perform at the level for which we have all come to expect from him. His value as a person is first to the team and that should never be forgotten no matter how much we want to win.

Jim: I understand your thinking here, Carol. Believe me, Derrick won't return unless the team and Derrick think he's healthy enough to play. Did I mention he's been walking around?...

Brett Heard from Nashville, Tennessee
Question:
How are you feeling about this Dolphins game? Even though we won against the 49ers (and by that I mean AJ Brown beat the 49ers) this is a game of 2 teams headed in completely different directions. We may have them in the standings with our record, but they are riding a 7-game streak.

Jim: Hey Brett. Good to hear from you again. I'm not sure I'd describe it as two teams headed in different directions. Yes, the Dolphins are riding a seven-game winning streak, but by no means are the Titans going backward. If the Titans build on their momentum from the second half against the 49ers, I think they'll be wearing AFC South champion hats on Sunday night. If they play like they did in Pittsburgh, it's going to be a pressure-packed finale in Houston.

Have a great weekend everyone! Happy New Year!

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