NASHVILLE, Tenn. –** Hope everyone enjoyed a Happy Thanksgiving, and didn't get too stuffed.
Thanks again for stuffing this Titans mailbag with questions.
Let's get to them …
Kameren Amaral from Pearl City, Hawaii
Question: When do you believe the era of Derrick Henry will start for the Titans? I believe that DeMarco has two years left on his contract after this season and I just can't see the Titans waiting that long to have Derrick finally take over as the primary running back.
Jim: Aloha Kameren! Time will tell on this one, but I don't think it will be this season. What happens moving forward remains a question mark, but I can tell you coaches have shown a great deal of loyalty to DeMarco, who remains the better all-around back at this point. That's my opinion at least. Murray's numbers are down, but he's played through hamstring, shoulder and a knee injuries. He's looked good in practices of late, and I expect him to finish the year strong. Henry will also get his touches, and we can't forget he went for 131 yards and a touchdown in the first meeting against the Colts.
Randy Howard from Kennett, Missouri
Question: Hey Jim, don't you just LOVE being in the thick of Playoff Chatter?!?!?! My question is regarding our running game, while it's not what is was last year, I still feel it is very effective each and every week! The only issue I have is, I feel like they are trying too hard with Murray. There have been multiple games when Henry has clearly been able to make more plays, longer runs, etc. yet Murray still gets the bulk of backfield time. I know that Murray has more than proven himself as the more reliable pass blocker and catcher, on top of him dealing with the injuries that he has had to deal with this season; but, seems to me that the run game would benefit more with Henry leading the way and Murray spelling him. Are there any signs pointing to this becoming the new norm??
Thanks for all the work you do!! Titan Up!!
Jim:* Hey Randy. Well, we're back-to-back in the running game debate. As I mentioned to Kameren, I suspect Murray will continue to be the lead back moving forward this season. But the Titans need to improve across the board running the football. While the 12th overall ranking and 117.5-yard average is respectable, the Titans have gone for less than 100 in six of 10 games, and less than 75 in three of them. The team needs to get a lead and pound the run, but across the board the team is also going to be more consistent in the running game. *
Delfonte Kelly from Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Question: Jim, what is going on with Corey Davis play in all games he played in? Davis will catch one pass and then disappear. It seems like it the same catch, him toe-tapping on the sideline.
Jim: Hey Delfonte. Corey is still finding his way, there's no doubt about that. But we can't forget he missed all of training camp, and he's really just played in four games during his rookie season. He's a talented guy, and coaches are working to get him more involved. I think he'll make more of an impact moving forward, but right now Marcus Mariota clearly has more chemistry with familiar guys like receiver Rishard Matthews and tight end Delanie Walker, which is understandable.
Tim Hammond from Seymour, Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim, I have been a Titans fan since the Music City Miracle! And you are correct in your comparison with McNair and Mariota. Much like older quarterbacks learn with time, Marcus seems to be running less. My question is if he chose not to run on Thursday when he could have, or if it was a coaching decision? Is that the plan for the future?
Jim: Hey Tim. When Marcus has been healthy, you've seen some plays in the game plan to reflect it. During the stretch of games against the Colts and Browns when he was coming off the hamstring, he stayed in the pocket, and he didn't run. He's good to go now, but most of the time it's up to him when he takes off. I think you'll see him impact games with his feet moving forward.
Rick Pinkerton from Terryville, Connecticut
Question: Jim, Thanks for taking my question. I want to address the negative remarks from last week. First of all in my opinion, the Pittsburg game was a measuring stick to see how the Titans did against an upper level team. We did not have a good game, but I totally believe that when we put the 3 phases of the game together and execute we can beat ANYBODY. Marcus has not had the time to throw. He has been sacked many more times than last year. I believe the offensive line is in a slump and when they break out of it and protect Marcus you are going to see the TD ratio skyrocket. Living in New England, I would love to see the Titans play the Patriots, the best measuring stick they could have. Please tell Marcus that I see him as one of the best quarterbacks in Oiler/ Titan history all the way back to George Blanda.
Jim: Hey Rick. Thanks for the question. I appreciate the comments. The Pittsburgh game was just a bad game. A bad performance against a good team. But the NFL is a week-to-week league, and teams can get exposed when they play poorly. The Titans have beaten some good teams, including the Jaguars -- the same Jaguars team that blew out the Steelers 30-9 in Pittsburgh. But when you play poorly and turn the ball over you run the risk of getting embarrassed. The Titans need to find ways to improve to keep that from happening again, and you can be sure Mariota -- and all the players and coaches – have been working at it.
Mike Sorey from Medical Lake, Washington
Question:Hey Jim. Been a fan of this Oilers/Titans team for quite some time now and have a hard time not being too critical of what I see on the field. Love the ask Jim column and decided to write a couple months ago and complain about how this team needs the right coach to take this team to the next level. I'm writing again to say it again. This team has so much talent and all we do is tell people every game that we are going to run the ball. If it works then great but if it doesn't it seems we struggle. This offense is not built for coming from behind. This could be a high powered offense if we opened it up. Seemed to work for the rams. Yes we are winning but we have easy schedule. To go to overtime against the browns and then listen to coach say what a good team the browns are? I don't think so. Pittsburgh was a good team. Anyway would just like to see someone come in and maximize Mariota's skill level and let him sling it like he did with Oregon. Exotic smash mouth? Just not seeing it. Thanks Jim for letting me ramble!
Jim: *Hey Mike. Thanks for the email. I let you vent here, and I hope it helps. But I'm not going to side with you on it always being the coach's fault. Not when I've seen wide open touchdown passes dropped, a fumble into the end zone for a touchback, and four INTs thrown in one game in games this month. The Titans are 6-4, following a year when the team went from three wins to nine wins. If the team takes care of business down the stretch, it's going to the playoffs. It wasn't long ago when I was writing this mailbag during 2-14 and 3-13 seasons. Sure, I get the frustration when things aren't as pretty as everyone would like. But then I look at the standings and I see 19 teams with fewer wins than the Titans at this point. Things have improved significantly of late, but there's clearly room for more improvement. Hang in there. *
Matt Faulks from Dickson, Tennessee
Question: I would love to see a certain play incorporated in the red zone offense: the OT winner in New Orleans from 2015 looked great and hard to stop. Thoughts on putting it in this year too? Thanks!
Jim: Hey Matt. That was a great play – Mariota to Antony Fasano! The team has used it since then, and it's still in the arsenal.
Keith P. from Hendersonville, Tennessee
Question: Dear Jim. My buddy is a Cowboys fan and he says that Dak's superstar performance last year was in large part, due to Tony Romo being on the sideline and teaching Dak how to spot defenses (Dak's numbers are significantly worse this year without Romo). Romo has shown through his commentary that he can still spot defenses well and has stated that he would like to coach. My question is why don't we pay to bring Romo out of the booth and to our sideline, either as a QB coach or offensive coordinator? I believe that Romo can help Mariota finally take that next step. Why has nobody thought of this? Thanks as always. Go Titans!
Jim: Hey Keith P. I think Romo has done a great job in the booth, and I suspect he'll stay there for a while. I don't know what he's making, but I have a feeling it's more than he'd make as a QBs coach -- with a lot fewer hours.
Ethan Evans from Memphis, Tennessee
Question: Do you think the Thursday Night Football game against the Steelers was a good game for the Steelers or just a bad game for the Titans? Also, do you think the Titans could still win the AFC South?
Jim: Yes, yes, and yes.
Have a great weekend everyone!
TitansOnline.com looks back at the all-time series with the Indianapolis Colts. (AP Photos)