NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Well, we're making our way through January, and it's going to be a busy stretch at the end.
The Senior Bowl is coming up, then the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. We have another Titans mailbag to do.
Billy Zanetti from Rocky Springs, Wyoming
Question: Hey Jim, life-long Titans fan here. I have a few questions regarding Derrick Henry. In his first few seasons he has struggled the first half of the season and then December hits and he goes wild. I believe Henry could be the best running back in football if he played the whole season like he plays in December. How do we help Henry to have a full season like December? Why does he struggle to start and what changes to get him going? Is it the offensive line or inconsistency at the OC postion? What are your thoughts? Thank you for your time #titanup
Jim: Hey Billy. If I knew the answer to that, I'd be coaching instead of banging out this mailbag… But I have my theories. Some of it has to do with Henry. He was critical of himself the first half of the season, saying he wasn't running well, calling his play "trash" on more than one occasion. Some say the turnaround was simply a matter of giving him the ball. Well, in the December 6 Jacksonville game everyone remembers, when he racked up 238 yards, he had just 17 carries. He had 18 carries in the first Jacksonville game in September (for 57 yards), and 18 carries the week before that (for 56 yards). So obviously something changed to make him more productive. I think the difference turned out to be a combination of things, from Henry to the o-line to playcalling, to the way the games were going. Obviously everyone hopes he hits the ground running in 2019.
Moise Chery from Newark, New Jersey
Question: Hey Jim, long-time Titans fan here. With the Buckeyes connection we have, is there any chance of us drafting Dwayne Haskins?
Jim: Hey Moise. I'm expecting Haskins to be the top-rated QB in this draft. When all is said and done, he'll probably be top 10. I saw several mocks this week with him at No.6, going to the Giants. The Titans are scheduled to pick 19. And this answer is just now mentioning the fact the Titans have quarterback Marcus Mariota. So I'd say the chances are Slim and none, and I just saw Slim waiting on the corner for a Lyft …
Jimmy Darling from Humboldt, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim. I've seen a lot of questions on here about offensive coordinators. So figured I throw out a name nobody has mentioned. Do you think we could talk Peyton Manning to come be our OC? Worth a shot. I mean he was like every coach would say, a head coach on the field. They didn't have to teach him he was teaching other ppl. Sounds like dream come true but ya never know. Vrabel does know Peyton all too well from the playing days and could spark a good at best decent future for Mariota and Davis like Manning and Harrison.
Jim: The Lyft has officially pulled away. So long, Slim.
Bryce Cox from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim. Who do you think some of the options for the huge wide receiver spot needing filled or do you go for another tight end to help block and help the offence for another target in the open field? Also, do you know maybe who we could go for in the draft as far as the d-line? I also think there will be no need to go for a huge back up in the QB position because if we can get another target or two and maybe an addition to the o-line Marcus won't have to take those hits and they won't have to rely on him running the football as much. Just was wondering what you thought and thank you so much.
Jim: Hey Bryce. It's so early in the process. I think you're looking at the right positions, but what happens in the draft is influenced by what happens first in free agency. I've said in this space before, I believe the top positions that will be addressed this offseason will be interior o-line, receiver, edge rushers, big and nasty d-linemen, and I wouldn't be surprised to see tight end help added. If some of these are tackled in free agency, it would change the draft focus, of course.
Alonso Alvarez from Ciudad de México
Question: Hi Jim. In Mexico there are many fans since the time of the Oilers. When Warren Moon was our QB, they had very good receivers and the team was very powerful. I have two questions: 1) To strengthen the air attack, what are the chances of acquiring Antonio Brown in free agency? 2) What chances do you have to play in Mexico next year against the Raiders as visitors? The fans in Mexico love our team.
Jim: Hey Alonso. I'm accepting the fact I'll probably be getting Antonio Brown questions from now until he lands somewhere. The way I've answered it so far: I'm sure every fan base wants him. How much of a distraction would come with his dynamic play is what GMs must consider. As for a Mexico game, that's up to the league, and the Raiders. It would be a fun experience, I know that. And judging from this mailbag and social media, I understand there are plenty of Titans fans in Mexico.
Trey Dickerson from Macon, Georgia
Question: Hey Jim! I actually have some questions that do NOT revolve around Marcus Mariota. You're welcome. I was wondering what the general consensus is on some of our first year players like Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry. Do they look like they might be good hits in the draft?
Jim: Hey Trey. I think both of them have promising futures. Evans was slowed by an injury early, and he really came on as the season went on. He was very productive down the stretch. Landry finished strong as well, with sacks in back-to-back games to close it out. He's going to need to develop more as a pass rusher to take it to another level, but a full offseason should help them both heading into Year 2.
Alex Aguero from West New York, New Jersey
Question: Hey Jim. Die hard Titans fan here. I don't think I've missed a snap in about 10 years. Having said that, I've seen a lot of football, specifically, Titans football. I know you're getting this a lot but frankly, Mariota isn't cutting it. There are shades of brilliance constantly overshadowed by over/under throws, indecisiveness, and running into sacks. Instead of asking what we can do in free agency/draft (I know it's unknown) … what do you think the locker room feels about this, including Marcus? I always hear the "great leader" ploy but rarely anything regarding him being a top talent. Do you think the organization accepts we simply have a subpar guy under center? I have no doubt with a mediocre QB we end this season 12-4 and make some serious noise in this league. With a good QB, the sky is the limit! Your thoughts? Thanks and Titan Up!!
Jim: Hey Alex. I think his teammates support him, and know he's a capable, talented guy. He's proven it. Now he just has to stay healthy, and be available.
Buzz Reisinger from Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Question: Hey Jim. Well I'm glad you're the one answering these letters and not me! You have a lot of patience with these boneheaded so called fans bashing MM! What would they say if we did move on from him and he went to a team that didn't change coaches and systems every year, and had a great O line, and he'd take off and be in the top five QBs in the league?? There's no doubt he has the heart, the brain, the skill set, and the leadership qualities that are beyond rare in this league. Please tell Marcus the vast majority of us love him, pray for him, and will always root for and admire him! Thanks Jim!!
Jim: Appreciate it you taking the time, Buzz.
Nick Katenkamp from Jessup, Maryland
Question: Hey Jim! My question is about Dennis Kelly and how well he has played when injuries force him to the starting lineup. With a (hopefully) healthy Conklin and Lewan, next season could Kelly slide in to play guard alongside our tackles, or is his role as the back-up tackle too valuable? The guard position has seemed to be a weak spot for us and I'm curious if Kelly playing on the line with Lewan and Conklin would be feasible.
Jim: Hey Nick. It's a fair question, because when Dennis has played, he's played well. And he's capable of playing guard as well. There's a lot TBD, but I suspect there will be additions in the interior this offseason. Kelly is a valuable swing guy, and he's certainly been needed during his time here.
Zach Matthews from Waipahu, Hawaii
Question: Hey Jim. My question is what is the Titans draft plans in 2019? With Brian retired, who need to step up in the 2019? From the Aloha State Mahalo and God bless.
Jim: Aloha Zach. I touched on some of this with Bryce. As far as who needs to step up with Orakpo retiring, the answer is Harold Landry, Kamalei Correa, Sharif Finch, and anyone who is added as an edge rusher this offseason. Where's Derrick Morgan on this list, you ask? Well, he's scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, so we'll have to see how his situation plays out. But I feel certain there will be some new faces at OLB in 2019.
Dave Maniaci from Honolulu, Hawaii
Question: Hey Jim, I love your cool demeanor with your responses to some really Titan-bashing emails as of late. And these people call themselves fans? Anyhow, I'd like to say the Titans, under a completely new regime, have played better than I expected this season. Kudos to the coaching and players for giving it their all. What do you think a solid right guard, a center, an edge rusher, and a great receiver would do for this team? It could make me believe in a Titans v. Rams II for the Super Bowl next season! That's how close I think we are! Lastly, I certainly hope for a better draft in 2019. Reminder, we had only 3 picks after we cut Luke Falk! THEN, Evans does not seem smart enough to earn more playing time, Cruikshank has always been injured, and Landry III has only a handful of sacks I would say that is almost a bust of a draft. Hehe here I am bashing them too now. Well the undrafteds did play fairly well but we just need a break on at least one superstar rookie right out of the gate. It's been almost 10 years! Thanks for all of your time you give to us fans.
Jim: Mahalo Dave. You were doing so well until you got to the draft class. Believe me, Evans is plenty smart, and he played really well in the second half of the season. He's savvy, and aggressive, and a hard-working guy. He's going to be a good one. Cruikshank played in 12 games, and he made some big plays on special teams. He showed toughness by fighting through some of those injuries you mentioned. I suspect others might've been shut down for the season, but he played through it. Landry finished with 46 tackles, 18 pressures and 4.5 sacks as a rookie. Hardly a bust. I think you'll see all these guys do even more in 2019. Aloha.
David Elmore from Oxford, Mississippi
Question: Hey Jim I've been a fan since that magical ( and painful 1999 season) I have a few players on my wishlist and was wondering if the front office has given any indication of who they'll be targeting in FA. Could you put a % on why you think the Titans interest is in them?
Daryl Williams OT
Landon Collins SS
CJ Mosley ILB
Danny Shelton NT
Shaq Barrett OLB
Ha Ha Clinton Dix SS if Landon doesn't pan out
Preston Smith OLB
Shane Ray OLB
Sign some of these guys get a guard or two
And a WR from the draft to go with Corey's growth this year and I think we're set
Jim: Hey David. Interesting list. Obviously the GM hadn't told me who he's targeting. He usually gives me that list around the first of March (just kidding). I'm staying away from giving a % here, but I'm including this in the email because I suspect others will be intrigued. Have a good one…
Madeleine Cloutier from Saint Jean sur Richelieu
Question: Hi Jim. My name is Madeleine Cloutier and I am 19 years old. I am from Montreal in Canada. I am very interested in the functions of a General Manager in the NFL and I would like to learn more. I would really appreciate if I could learn some tips from Jon Robinson on how to become a great GM. Thank you.
Jim: Hey Madeleine. Good to hear from you. I think Jon would tell you it takes a lot of work to get there, and then a whole lot of work once you're in that seat, evaluating talent. Jon paid his dues, working as an assistant coach in college (at SEMO and Nicholls State) before getting into scouting. He worked his way up from an area scout to Director of Player Personnel before landing the gig with the Titans as GM. Scouts leave no stone unturned as they evaluate players, from watching their skill set to talking to coaches and other officials at the schools. I think he'd tell you there's a lot more to it that watching film or games. And once you're in the GM's seat that's a whole new world as rosters are put together, and you have to make decisions on roster turnover, money, and so much more. The umbrella has gotten so much bigger. But it all starts with working hard, paying your dues, and having a keen eye for talent and more.
Tom Montesion from Livingston, New Jersey
Question: Hi Jim, been awhile since I've written. Happy & Healthy 2019 to you and your family. As always, thank you for the outstanding job you do allowing us fans across the country to keep our finger on the Titans pulse, which leads into my question: Reading all your replies in the mailbag the last few weeks you've addressed all of my Mariota, O Line, secondary, D line and draft questions, so my question is this...This team is vastly improved over the last few seasons yet it appears that the a large portion of the fan base is still so negative. Nearly every sports outlet that ranks fan bases has us in the bottom 3 if not dead last. Some saying pro football has no following in Tennessee cause of market size etc. I disagree. Although I'm only watching on TV from NJ, but it looked to me that with this season we were playing in our home stadium again rather than being outnumbered by visitors fans. Crowd was definitely louder. Seeing it first hand down there, do you see the fan support for the team amping back up again as it was in the late 90s early 2000s or are these naysayers right?
Jim: Hey Tom. There's no doubt there's a lot of excitement in the fan base. And Nissan Stadium has turned into a true home-field advantage once again. Of course fans from opposing teams are represented. There were tons of Eagles fans and Patriots fans in the stadium this fall. But I think some of that is because plenty of those fans see Nashville as a great road trip, and their team doesn't play here that often. Now is there still work to do to win more fans over in the city? Of course. But I think winning helps. I know the end of the season was a big disappointment, but the fan based was fired up – and Nissan Stadium was packed – for the season finale against the Colts. The team needs to keep the momentum going by winning.
Have a great weekend everyone!