NASHVILLE to PITTSBURGH –** OK, so it's not Saturday.
But I looked through the mailbag on the flight to Pittsburgh and saw a lot of questions that will be outdated by then, so I decided to bang out a special edition of the mailbag.
The Titans face the Steelers tonight.
Let's pass the time with this mailbag…
Michael Newsome from Drexel, North Carolina
Question: Will the Steelers be recognizing Dick LeBeau in any way? Or will it be treated as just another week? Would absolutely love to see him exiting the tunnel alone to one last standing ovation by the Steeler fans in what could be his final game coached on that field, since it's not a regular occurrence for us to make the trip to Pittsburgh.
Jim: Hey Michael. Good question, and it's one I don't have the answer to unfortunately. The Steelers haven't made their plans known. I suspect he'll be shown on the video board at Heinz Field, and with how much fans love LeBeau in Pittsburgh, that would surely prompt a nice ovation. But we'll have to wait and see if the Steelers have something else planned. Stay tuned.
James Gordon from Franklin, Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim, question and comment - is there one person that is responsible for watching the game from a monitor for the purpose of calling for a challenge? I noticed a play where a Bengals player was late getting off the field and would have been a 5 yard penalty and thus 1st and 5 instead of 2nd and 7. Just curious on the process. Also, I must say that Amy Adams Strunk has won me over! I think she has been amazing by doing so many things to improve the organization and the fan experience at the games. It's not just the big things that she has done like hiring John Robinson but it's also all the little things that she does too. Thanks for providing this forum for fans to ask questions and get your take on so many different topics.
Jim: Hey James. Coach Mike Mularkey does have certain coaches that watch replays, and then communicate to the sideline whether a play should be challenged or not. But I doubt those include too many men on the field scenarios. Those would probably come from Mularkey, if he notices it on the spot. As for Amy Adams Strunk, she is definitely doing a great job with decisions, but also with winning over the fan base. She's really made an effort to be involved with fans for sure.
Justin Jones from Silver Spring, Maryland
Question: Hey Jim. Thank You for all that you do, I can't Thank You enough, especially being a fan from out of town.
I just want to say that I see the difference in the offense of play-calling. Although sometimes it seems like it's hard for us to find balance in passing and rushing, especially in the 2nd half of the last two games. But the redzone and 3rd downplays and execution have improved drastically. To go from 31st to 10th in the redzone within 2 weeks is a huge improvement.
The defense is playing well too, despite the two big plays last game against the Bengals. The defense has been pretty good. We are on the plus side when it comes to the turnover differential and the tackling has been a lot more crisp. The secondary is making plays... and Woodyard is playing like a man possessed!
My only concern is that we seem to let teams hang around, instead of just putting the game away. Neither the Ravens or Bengals games should've been that close. The Mariota Int's, Corey Davis fumble, the multiple penalties, and just the lack of execution has to be cleaned up. I am sure coach Murlarkey is working on this... we have improved drastically and I believe we will continue to do so to make a late playoff push! Lets Steal one in Pittsburgh. #TitanUp
Jim: Hey Justin. I appreciate the kind words, and for taking the time. You're right. Things have definitely improved in the red zone. Some of it is playcalling, and some of it is execution. As for opening up close games, if not for the Matthews drop and Davis fumble into the end zone, the Cincy game wouldn't have been such a nailbiter in the end, no doubt. Those are things that need to be cleaned up. And the team can't make those kind of mistakes tonight against the Steelers.
Russ Bradley from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: On the Corey Davis fumble out of end zone, I know the rule states that, if ball is fumbled before crossing goal line and goes in and then out of end zone before either team recovers in field of play, then it's called a touchback with the defensive team getting the ball at 20 yard line. This seems to me to be one, if not the most, unreasonable, unjust rulings in the rule book. Could you or some rule book expert explain why the ball is awarded to the defense when they didn't recover the fumble? To me, the reasonable, just rule would be that the team, whose runner possessed the ball prior to the fumble, retain possession of ball at point of fumble. In Corey's play, Titans would then retain possession with ball spotted one foot from goal line, 1st and goal. Can someone offer me a good explanation for this current rule or help get it changed???
Jim: Hey Russ. It's a brutal result if you're the team fumbling, that's for sure. Quite a drastic turn. But it's been that way ever since I started watching football, and I haven't heard any buzz about it being changed. Personally, I feel like if a team fumbles the ball in such a critical situation, they don't deserve to be bailed out.
Mark McCullough from South Padre Island, Texas
Question: Hey Jim, I have been a fan of this club since the Earl Campbell days. Every week I listen via radio, don't miss a game. It has been exciting watching the team grow and get better since J. R. took over. What a difference a dedicated owner and GM make. Those years when our season would be over b4 it ever started are in the rear view mirror. I love seeing all the stats that have not been accomplished since the Titans were relevant. Good gravy what a difference the past few years have made. Ol Bud would be proud.
This week the big bad Blue team has to travel to play its oldest rival and a game I have been waiting for since I saw this year's schedule. The Steelers, and it's on prime time. Every time we play the Steelers I think back to when I was a young lad and the speech Bum Phillips made after they beat us in the playoffs for the second time. Well is it next year yet? I grew up in a little football town just south of Oklahoma City, Ok, and through the years I always knew that the owner of my favorite team wasn't partial to drafting SOONERS, is that still a thing seeing that Ms Strunk is one of those other guys (UT). That's another great rivalry that never gets old or cools off. My Question is: What was DeMarco Murray doing when all the UT alum were posing for the pic last week (with Vince Young)? I know what I would have been doing. Lol. I love football and the TITANS. Let's go kick down some doors. TITAN UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jim: Hey Mark. Appreciate the email. I know the picture you're talking about, with all the Longhorns – V.Y., Brian Orakpo, Bo Scaife, Ahmard Hall and Amy Adams Strunk. I'm not sure where DeMarco was when it was taken during homecoming weekend, but I know he wouldn't have been flashing the Hook 'em Horns sign like they were. Have a good one!
Luis Murra from Torreon, Mexico
Question: Hi Jym!!! I know Davis is the drafted 5th overall, of course he is a gifted guy and everybody wants to see what is he capable of doing on the field. But Decker has been so reliable that I don't know if he has been pulled out of the field to much. In fact, on both the second and fourth quarter last drives, Decker was there making plays. On the INT, Mariota wants to hit Davis when Decker is the one who finished wide open.... I mean, Davis is going to be the guy... but right now, Decker and Matthews are the titans best wr... what do you think about it?
Jim: Hola Luis! I agree Decker has been reliable catching the football, and it was great for him to get his first TD against the Ravens. But I don't think the Titans are playing Davis to see what he is capable of. They're playing him because he is a special talent, and in time that will show even more. Sure, he's going through some growing pains, but he's going to help in a big way and be a game-changer. The best way for him to improve is to play, and he's going to make some big plays along the way as well. And don't forget Taywan Taylor. I know I hear from a lot of fans who want to see more of him as well.
Darin Finkelstein from Chatham, New Jersey
Question: Hey Jim. 6-3 is a great place to be after nine games. Feels like Marcus was getting hit a lot during the Bengals game. The Titans have a real shot to make the post season but this will only happen if Marcus remains healthy. Worried the Titans are putting Marcus at risk with running plays. There is no doubt we love his productivity on the ground but is the risk of Marcus getting injured worth the return? Looking forward to Thursday night.
Jim: Hey Darin. He did take some shots. The last tackle on him by Carlos Dunlap was scary. It gave me a flashback to last December in Jacksonville, the way he was tackled. I just think coaches want to take advantage of his skill set. And when he's on the move and outside the pocket, he's going to take some hit. Just keep your fingers crossed and home he stays healthy.
Enjoy the game tonight!
Titans Online looks back at the all-time series between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers. (AP Photos)