NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Well, we're at the end of another calendar year, and regular season in the NFL.
If all goes well on Sunday, the Titans will be playing football in January.
While we wait for the Titans-Jaguars game, let's knock out a mailbag …
Ardie Melton from Fair Oaks, California
Question: Hi Jim. Well it's down to one game. Win and we're in. I like our chances, regardless of whether the Jags play to win or not (which I believe they will), I think we match up well with them, (the same way we did with the Rams).
I wrote to you awhile back about how winning close games was a character builder, but also how we should have been putting the 'mediocre' teams away with much more authority. Back then, we were character building with close wins, now we're character building with close losses. Still, on any given Sunday, I do believe that we can play with any team in the league. The officials played more of a part then they should have over the past few games, but that should help the Titans confidence in knowing that during this losing streak, they've been right there to win it - even with some questionable calls.
I also wrote to you a few weeks back (prior to the Arizona game) recommending that we sit DeMarco Murray to get him healthy for the playoffs. Obviously, that didn't happen and we went on to lose each game. Now it seems that Derrick Henry could get his chance to shine. This is a dangerous game for him, though. It seems that his negative yardage plays might have played a role in Murray being the lead back thus far. While it's true that Henry can break a long run off any time he touches the ball, he must see the importance of getting 4 or 5 yards on first down. If he can keep the Titans ahead of the chains, I see a big day coming for he and the Titans.
My questions are: 1. If Henry gets it going and does what a lot of us fans think he can do, will the Titans roll with him throughout the playoffs? (assuming we get in) Watching interviews of other players, they really seem to get amped up when Henry runs the ball)
- Mularkey hinted in an interview that Mariota's lack of running is from him being overly cautious. While a running QB is not a recipe for long term success, I'd like to see #8 pull it down and run when the pass isn't open. Also, how many times can you run the read option if the QB never keeps the ball? I keep waiting for him to keep it in must-win situations, but it's just not happening. Is this something the coaches are emphasizing to Mariota? It's now or never.
My keys to Sunday's game is that Henry must put his head down get positive yardage on first and second down. Mariota must trust his feet and get out of the pocket when it breaks down. Sprinkle in some no huddle throughout the game and we're tough to beat.
Side note, Corey Davis is going to be a stud. Second side note, I made it all the way to the end without mentioning to #fireanybody. I'm sure you'll have enough of that in the column this week. Titan Up!
Jim: Hey Ardie. Appreciate the email. Well, with Murray ruled out, Derrick Henry is ready for a bigger workload, and I think he'll perform well. His teammates love his running style, but they also have a ton of respect for DeMarco as well. The team needs to get into the postseason first, and then worry about how things go from there. Murray wasn't placed on IR, so there's a chance he could return if this season continues. As for Mariota, he has definitely picked his spots as to when to run. But with a burst on Sunday against the Rams, he showed he can still do it when needed.
Robbie Wood from Hendersonville, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim, so the Houston Rockets appealed a referee error to the NBA in a game against Los Angeles. The error cost them the game. If the appeal is accepted, the teams will have to replay the game from the point in which the error occurred. Why does the NFL not do this? We were clearly cheated in last Sunday's game and deserved to win.
Jim: Hey Robbie. Interesting thought, but the NFL could never do something like this. It just couldn't work from a logistics standpoint. And while I agree the officiating was bad, I don't think it's the reason the Titans lost the game. The Titans lost because they kicked too many field goals instead of scoring touchdowns.
Jerry Barnett from Fairhope, Alabama
Question: Franchise fan since 1962 (bet you don't see many of those). Bortles has 300 yard games. That being said, is there concern that Marcus Mariota does not have one?
Jim: Hey Jerry. Appreciate the email, and support. Marcus actually has two this season – vs. Indianapolis (306) and at Pittsburgh (306 again). I don't think yardage stats always tell the whole story when it comes to QBs, though. Marcus has five 300-yard games in his career, and the Titans are 2-3 in those games.
Mark McCullough from S Padre Island, Texas
Question: Jim. Here we go. Once again our Titans find themselves with their backs against the wall looking up to where they want to be. Win and get in. We can even lose and get in but I'm not going to even consider that scenario. Last year this team was 8-7 and wondering how a 2 win team could of beat us. This year we are 8-7 looking at the same team except they have 10 wins. I have a good feeling about this one, but I'm worried it will come down to a call from New York or the refs on the field and it bugs me. With D. Murray out for this game, who and what will fill that void, ie (pass blocking and receiving). I'm apprehensive but at the same time excited to see an entire game planned for D. Henry. If u run into Demarco let him know that the fans appreciate his grit and a quick recovery. If it can snow on the beach, (and it did this year), this team can get to the playoffs. We got the losing out of the way in Dec, now it's time to win. As always appreciate your in depth coverage of our beloved Titans. Keep it up and lets hope for a game in January this year. TITANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
Jim: Hey Mark. Appreciate it. Henry will be the guy, but Flullen is in the mix as well. Both are capable. But Murray will be missed – he has extra value because of his ability catching the ball out of the backfield, and in pass protection. But this is Henry's chance to shine, and establish himself.
Justin Jones from Silver Spring, Maryland
Question: Happy Holidays Jim. I must say Jim the Titans have been in the Christmas Spirit, long before December 25th. Dropping three straight games (which were all winnable) losing the division and possibly the 5th seed. With that being said he we still have control our destiny to get the post-season, by beating our divisional rival (who injured our QB last year with basically the scenario as this year.) What An Opportunity!!
I have few questions:
First, has Terry Robiskie thought about utilizing Derrick Henry more in the passing game? When I mean the passing game I don't mean just as a check down pass, I mean like place him in the slot, or have him running wheel routes, screen plays etc. When I look at how teams like KC, Pittsburgh and even the Rams use their backs, I just wonder why we don't take advantage of the use of his hands more often.
Secondly, I think we need to get rid of this "Exotic SmashMouth" concept. It seems like whenever need short yardage (in key situations) we come up short. Can we just go back to power football? Lineup in a strong formation, I-Formation etc.with a full back in front of the RB and just run the ball. Running plays from the Single-Back Formation, Jet-Sweeps and Options plays on the regular just doesn't seem to be fooling defenses.
Finally, Have you heard anything on the possibility of Eric Decker returning for next year? It looks like he and Mariota seem to developing a good chemistry now.
I know fans/media have bashing Marcus Mariota because of his stats but people have to realize, he missed the whole off-season, recovering from the injury, so a lot of his passes the timing & mechanics have been off. He will be fine, best QB we've had since the late great #9 (Air McNair). #TITANUP
Jim: Hey Justin. I do think Derrick has improved as a pass catcher, and I'm sure coaches are looking for ways to get him in favorable matchups moving forward. So stay tuned on this one. As for the 4th and 1 plays, there has to be a mix. You have to change it up some. Remember the goal line debacle in Cleveland from the one-yard-line? Running it didn't work on three of those plays. The Titans have been successful there with Mariota sneaks, but I agree there need to be better execution and success across the board. Too early to know about Decker for next year, and I agree 100 % on your observation about Mariota's lost offseason. Have a good one.
Brad Wolfe from Pittsburg
Question: Good evening Jim! I just wanted to drop some positive energy towards this team. I have been a fan ever since the team moved from Houston. So many fans are just looking at the negative. My take is a little different. We have suffered through many seasons where meaningful football this late in the season was not an option. Yet, going into week 17 this year we control our own fate. I ask any NFL fan.. What more can a team and fan base ask for then a chance to make the post season for the first time in almost ten years. My question is this Jim: What is the mood of the team and coaches with all out the outside noise? Also, in your opinion, win or lose on Sunday, what is your biggest takeaway on the overall direction of this team? Thanks Jim!
Jim: Hey Brad. Appreciate you taking the time. The team is ready to roll. Sure, the last three games have been upsetting, but players and coaches know it's now up to them to get in. Win, and the Titans are in. A nine-win season with a trip to the playoffs would be a positive step, no doubt. As for the biggest takeaway, it all depends on what happens Sunday. A loss would make the team 8-8, and there's no debating it would be a disappointing season.
Romeo Ford from Columbia, South Carolina
Question: Hey Jim! I'm going to dive into the issue. We came so far to fall so short just to look at a week 17 in hoping that we can win against Jacksonville. We keep losing which bothers I know a lot of fans. My opinion , I'm happy finally that we are playing the no huddle offense, but we aren't being "consistent", Jim, do you believe if we don't win against Jacksonville that they'll release the offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, and the head coach? I'm sorry to be so blunt, but I just don't believe in their technique, we struggle so bad at times, we make what supposed to be an easy game hard and a hard game even harder. The running back situation, tell the organization that they need to trade (RB) Murray for some draft picks and have Henry as primary back. I'm just tried of a struggling team, the main question is WHY CAN"T WE WIN?!!!!
Jim: Well Romeo, let's see how things play on Sunday before we dive into some of this.
Michael Hughes from Cape Girardeau
Question: Hi Jim. Thanks again for keeping us all up to date on our favorite team. Despite my overwhelming frustration with the Titans on many fronts, I'll try to keep it respectable here. Before my questions, I have a few comments. First, I was impressed with the outing against the Rams, especially by our special teams unit. Hats off to those guys. Second, I continue to be disappointed by predictable playcalling by our coaching staff. For example, everyone knew the Titans would open the second half with a run-run-pass-punt that would kill our momentum, yet there was no mixing it up. Same ol' same ol'. Very unfortunate. This brings me to my first question.
Can you please explain the decision to call a timeout before the two minute warning? We were already past midfield and had the benefit of a free timeout from the two minute warning. If we save that timeout, we may get the ball back with 20-30 seconds at the end.
My second question is a bit unrelated. I'm here in Cape Girardeau, MO, where the Titans are now the closest team (since the Rams moved from St. Louis). However, I'm surprised how often the Titans games aren't aired on my local TV channels. Do you have any insight on which teams are aired where? I assumed that since TN is the closest team, they'd be aired here every week.
Thanks for your time and merry Christmas! Go Titans!!
Jim: Hey Michael. Taking a timeout before the two-minute is something I see happen a lot. The Titans took one at the 2:05 mark, and with the clock automatically stopped at the two-minute warning, I becomes a five or six second play. The stoppage came at 1:59. So before or after the two-minute mark, the time off the clock would've been the same if you're using one there. The coaches took it then because they were anticipating needing it to drive down and score a TD, instead of saving it, anticipating they'd be stopped and that it would be needed it for a last-ditch effort. As for the telecast, I'm not sure about that. I'd call the local affiliate there and try and get some insight. Thanks for the questions.
Marco Antonio from Nezahualcoyotl, México
Question: Hi Jim good morning, first of all I want to thank you for listening and open this space, well my question is, why do not they use Kalan Reed, give him a chance, he is an excellent player, on the other hand Mariota is a great player, he is going through a bad time but not worrying, he is a big one and he showed it little by little, how feasible would be a west coast design, combined with running, and in some occasions shooting and running with formation of four receivers, more offensives in series or no meeting in some lapses, I would like to see more play action or pistol or counter plays, run to the sides and throw pass as McNair did, I think that design of plays would be ideal for Mariota, would it be viable or not? Thanks Jim, I thank you for your time and attention.
Jim: Hola Marco! Man, you must be tired without using a period in that sentence! :)
We'll see what happens with the offense moving forward, but don't expect any drastic changes this late in the season.
Alex Dorsey from Hendersonville, Tennessee
Question: Why is it that the Tennessee Titans can always finds a way to lose football games that are supposed to be in the pocket wins, at the end of the game. I think Marcus Mariota should be benched and/or replaced along with Demarco Murray. We need Henry's fresh young legs carrying the ball regularly. Mariota has cost the Titans this season with his bad decision making and recorded setting interception rating. Let him go to another team and throw this Bull.
Jim: Hey Alex. There's no such thing as an "in the pocket win" in the NFL. Ask the Patriots, who lost to the Dolphins just a few weeks ago, or the Steelers, who lost to the Bears. As for Mariota getting benched, who would you like to see replace him – Matt Cassel or Brandon Weeden? Just curious.
Josh K from Los Angeles, California
Question: I have inside info on a Rams key starting player injury. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 408-XXX-XXXX.
I work at a major hotel chain and he just checked in in a wheelchair in LA.
Jim: Oh man, Josh. Sorry I'm late getting to this. Not sure which guy you were talking about, but if the player was Todd Gurley by chance, he made a heck of a recovery. Man, that guy is impressive!
Kenny Gore from Horse Cave, Kentucky
Question: Hello Jim, Hope everything is going well there! I know it has to be an exciting week at Head Quarters. I am excited here in Horse Cave, KY it HAS to be exciting there!
I want to take a minute to encourage fans to GET TO THE STADIUM THIS SUNDAY & GET LOUD!!!!!!!
I know many do not support the Coaching Staff & are being very vocal about that. However, This team HAS A CHANCE TO WIN & GET IN THE PLAYOFFS GUYS! Once they are in ANYTHING can happen!!!
If you do not want to support the coaching staff; PLEASE think about guys like Bret Kern, Jurrell Casey, Karl Klug, Derrick Morgan, & Delanie Walker who have been here for years w/o a playoff game!! GO & SUPPORT THOSE GUYS!! They have been playing hard for years w/o a playoff berth! THEY DESERVE OUR SUPPORT!!!!!!!!!!!! FANS NEED TO BE THERE & BE LOUD!!!!!
I wish I could be there!! I am still off recovery from knee surgery in August. If I could afford seats I WOULD ABSOLUTELY BE THERE & LOUD AS HELL!!!!!!!!! People Do Not know how many guys like me there are that would LOVE to have a chance to be there screaming for the TITANS!
If you can afford it, GO SUPPORT THIS TEAM!! We as fans OWE IT to guys like Casey, Morgan, Walker, Kern, & Klug. They put thier bodies, hearts, & pride on the line for years!! THEY DESERVE A PLAYOFF BERTH!! HELP THEM EARN IT!! BE THERE & BE LOUD!! Lord knows, I WOULD IF I COULD!!!!!!!!
So fans, it's our turn, TITANS UP, SHOW UP, & GET LOUD!!! MAKE IT HARD AS HELL ON THOSE JAGS!!! THIS IS OUR HOUSE MAKE THEM KNOW IT!!!!!!!!
Jim: OK Kenny, we're ending on this one.
Have a great weekend everyone! And Happy New Year!
TitansOnline.com looks back at the all-time series against the Jacksonville Jaguars.