NASHVILLE – The Titans got back in the win column over the weekend.
No, not everything is cured.
But it was a start.
Let's talk about it, and more, in this Tuesday's mailbag …
Here's the link to submit questions: CLICK HERE.
Josh Cantwell from Canberra, Australia
Question: Long time reader Jim. Thanks for the regular updates! No question from me, just wanted to give some praise to Jeffery Simmons. I came all the way to America from Australia with my brother to watch the Titans play the Panthers this weekend and on Saturday, decided to go to the Titans shop to treat myself to some jerseys and such. Big Jeff walked in with his child as I was buying his jersey. With no hesitation he approached me and asked if I wanted him to sign it. Got a photo with him and a new, signed Oilers jersey. Made my trip, what a legend!!
Jim: This is a great story, Josh. Thanks for sharing. Jeffery is a great guy. Does a lot on and off the field. Hope you had a great trip.
Reuben Alvear II from San Francisco, California
Question: It was great to see the two-tone blue get a win v CAR. The guys showed that they, indeed, have plenty of
character, fight, fire, grit, heart and moxie. I don't care how cosmetically pleasing this win was. The Titans
do not need to apologize for being victorious.
Jim, in your Six Things ...section you pointed out the 30-second sequence right before halftime. The Titans poise in that situation wowed me. CAR may focused on taking away the deep outs, as the Panther D may have presumed that Will Levis surely wouldn't throw over the middle. Then, Levis calmly throws a middle-of-the-field dart to NWI to set up Nick Folk's booming kick. To quote Bret "The Hitman" Hart, that was 'the Excellence of Execution!' :-D
Jim: The execution at the end of the first half was well done, Reuben. I've seen the team practice that scenario a lot. Hope all is well.
Jeremy Rodriguez from Winchester, California
Question: Well Jim, it's a win! Henry earned his yards today. Both his TDs came off his will to score. Both times he was hit in the backfield but managed to find a way to score. The line continues to show they are weak link. Secondary will cost the Titans at least 3 more games with the WRs and QBs they will be facing. For now, let's enjoy this one and get ready for Indy! Have a great week and as always TITAN UP!
Jim: I hear ya, Jeremy.
Mitch Wilson from Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Question: Jim, I spent 22 years in the Army. I commanded 3 companies and 3 battalions and was offered the opportunity to stand up a battalion in Iraq and command two battalions at the same time. Unfortunately, injuries incurred in Afghanistan blocked me from being able to deploy into a combat zone again. I would love to say everything turned out great but that would not be true. All some units need is for you to give them a vision and guidance and they take off and accomplish things that most would say are impossible. Those are organizations that are a joy to be a member. Some units/teams started out rough but ended up jelling in the end and turned into high performing organizations. These are where you learn and perfect your craft. Although all improved, I was not able to get a couple of them to realize their potential. Sometimes the chemistry just isn't right. These are the jobs that test your faith. I say this only to point out, I understand the challenges a leader faces when they are trying to produce a high performing team. A command is normally two years at battalion level and above. There's a reason for two years. It's long enough to learn how to do your job and make a difference. It is short enough that the next guy comes in and replaces you before you can do too much damage. I've been very impressed with Vrabel until the last draft. He was very successful until the last two years. The way we finished last year, largely due to injuries and an O-line that couldn't get the job done, was disappointing. The last draft left me scratching my head in confusion.
The last draft did not fix anything except maybe the QB position (only time will tell). It made almost half hearted efforts to shore up a few of the team weaknesses with pitiful results. Free agency was more of the same. The Titans have a very good and fairly deep defensive line. Their linebackers can get the job done. The secondary needs help. Vrabel, understandably, is defense oriented but the secondary is not the top priority. I'd say it is third on the list. The titans offense can not score. The team record and red zone performance clearly show this to be true. Henry and Spears both have the talent to win a rushing title if they could get to the line of scrimmage without having to drag a couple of defensive players with them. Tannenhill, Levis and Willis have the talent to lead the Titans deep into the playoffs behind a good offensive line. If they could stay healthy ,the receiving corps could get open and catch the ball if the QB, whoever it is, could stay on his feet for more than 2 seconds without having to run for his life. If the WR/TE are hurt and can't play, it doesn't matter how good they are or how much potential they have they will not help your team. The receiving corps is priority 2 because they can't stay healthy long enough to make a difference. Hopkins is an absolute freak but he cannot do it all himself. The offensive line is weak. We lost three players off the O-line last year that were very good. I understand why and agree with letting them go but one draft pick, Skoronsky, can only moved the needle a little bit in the right direction. I guess we will see if Duncan (7th round?) can make difference after it is too late to matter. Most of the O-line starters would be riding the bench or on the practice squad for other teams. O-line is obviously the top priority. That makes It the top priority for the second year in a row. Which brings me to my point/question: Is Vrabel so biased to the defensive side of the ball that can't see his problem is the O-line? Can he and the GM be counted on to spend the capital they need to in order to fix the one weakness that has held the team back for the last two years. By fixing it I mean using draft picks to get at least two starters for the in the first four rounds? That will give him two picks for O-linemen and one for a superstar WR/TE before he has to balance between picking up another lineman, WR/TE or CB/safety (best available). Do they have the discipline to pass on a shiny, new CB with a great motor to draft a talented O-lineman or receiver we need more. And yes I understand we need a shutdown defensive back who can stop a 3rd down conversion without getting flagged for DPI. The question is... do we have the commitment to make a right decision even when it hurts. Many Titan fans were highly perturbed when we traded Brown and Byard. I think they were great decisions. Every player on the team now knows the coach and GM will help them get into a position to realize career goals when they can't be realized with the Titans. Letting coaches and players move to career enhancing positions when you have nothing to offer them builds loyalty and trust not only in the people you take care of but the other players who see you do it. When players/coaches see that kind of sacrifice they play/work harder for you. Had the Titans been in contention to get to the super bowl the last two years, I doubt either Brown or Baird would have left the team. The Titans organization has also made some very questionable decisions that I don't like. Everything from the National Championship game to the day the draft starts is designed to reduce risk and help teams make informed and wise decisions so they don't waste their draft picks. Despite this we have spent high draft picks on very high risk players and gotten very little return for our investment in all cases but one. Why are we drafting players with serious injuries, multiple injuries, or mental health issues when they are still two or three players in the same positions that we could draft and be reasonably sure they would contribute because they don't have these issues. It is illogical and defies common sense especially when the position is a critical need. Out of 6 high risk players we have drafted that I can think of off the top of my head only one of them has produced. We drafted a CB with ACL and back issues, an O-lineman with multiple issues and at least three receivers who were hurt when we got them or had a track record for injuries. Only Simmons and Spears have been able to stay on the field and Spears is a rookie with limited playing time. Simmons is a beast, a freak and a team player all rolled into one and if we want to keep him we better do something to keep us in the win column. Which brings me to my last question: Have we learned from our mistakes? Like I said before, Vrabel impressed me up front. Although I liked the decision to replace the last GM largely due to his draft record, the jury is still out on Ran. If he is going to make a difference we will see it by the end of next season. At least we didn't draft any broke players this year... but... if we don't fix the O-line and significantly improve either our receiving corps or the secondary I think it will be time for both of them to go.
Jim: Hey Mitch. Thanks for your service, and for taking the time to type your long and in-depth email. A lot to digest. I don't agree the 2023 draft did not fix anything besides the QB position. Peter Skoronski has proven to be a good player, Tyjae Spears has helped and will get better, Josh Whyle is improving, Jaelyn Duncan has shown promise, and Colton Dowell is developing nicely as well. I think it's going to turn out to be a good draft class. … The o-line needs work, we agree on that. And, I'm sure Vrabel is aware of this himself. But this year, he has to work with what he's got. I'm sure it's going to be a big point of emphasis this offseason.
J Gann from Little Rock, Arkansas
Question: Hi Jim, my question is concerning Treylon Burks, I've been watching him since he was a kid, my family is from the south Arkansas town he is and my last living grandmother still lives in a house next to Lumberjack stadium so I would watch the games from outside the fence. My question is what is your professional opinion that with his constant injuries and missing games, is there a point where his constant absence starts to outweigh his value to the team? Just curious as to your thoughts, thank you.
Jim: Well, the team wants to give Treylon a chance to get healthy, and return to play. He's had bad luck, including a pair of nasty concussions, when he was knocked unconscious.
Patrick Meadows from Giddens, Texas
Question: Why will Caleb Farley not play this year? I am not aware of an injury.
Jim: Caleb had a back procedure last year. Last month, he acknowledged recovery "has just been very slow."d. "(I'm) just continuing to work on the strength of my legs, making sure my core is healthy," Farley said, "and just let all the signals get back to firing correctly." I've said in here several times over the last few weeks, I don't expect him to play this season.
Peter Palmer from Miramar, Florida
Question: Good morning Jim. I pray all is well with you and your family. Glad to finally be in the win column again but disappointed in our performance as we beat the worst team in football. It is now clear more than ever that Tim Kelly needs to be fired as his play calls are so predictable. I keep saying not having Henry in on 3rd and short or 3rd and manageable doesn't keep the defense honest as the focus on pass only. This was more than evident in the 2nd half when Henry was in we were having 3rd downs converted in opposed to when he's on the sidelines. All of this have seemed to happen when Vrabel decided to bring other players into the game and giving Henry less plays several years ago. This came out in an article of the interview with Tannehill. Been a fan since 1978 Earl Campbell rookie season when I moved to this country. Forever an Oiler /Titan fan
Jim: Enjoy the win, Peter. No, things weren't perfect, but it had been a while.
Jon Cowart from Seattle, Washington
Question: Jim - here's my thoughts on the tanking.
NFL players and coaches are constantly playing / coaching for their careers. No matter if you have a future on a team, you want to put good tape out there and be competitive for a contract.
Winning culture - you don't just turn on/off winning. Winning is contagious, just like losing. If we lose another 5-6 in a row to finish the season, then we start next season in the hole - with no winning formula, no players who know how to win, and the expectation that when the game is on the line, we lose. People point fingers, throw their pads into the stands, ... it gets ugly. We need these young guys to learn how to win right now, build momentum, and go into the offseason feeling good. See what the Lions did last year.
A lot of draft picks, even in the top 10, are busts. You don't throw a season away just to go get that "can't miss" player who has a 50/50 chance of busting. Remember - Jurrell Casey was a 3rd round pick, AJ Brown was 2nd round, Byard 3rd round, Derrick Henry 2nd round, Denico Autry UDFA, Ben Jones 4th rounder, Etc. Currently Titans have the 10th pick. Lewan was taken at 11, Simmons taken at 16, etc. Having a top 20 pick is fine.
You want current players on your roster to win jobs. You don't want to head into the offseason with 15 holes in your roster. You want players to step up and play so well that the coaches have to give them the job. Then, you can check off the boxes and go fill more holes. Imagine if we head into the offseason knowing the Jaelyn Duncan can hold down LT, Brewer steps up and proves he can play C, Chig and Whyle step up and show they are great TEs, Fulton and SMB and McCreary step up and play great, etc. Then, you have the luxury to go draft a play making MLB, or a fast athletic FS, or an electric TE (Bowers?) knowing that your needs at O line and elsewhere aren't as grave. The ONLY way that happens is if these players step up, play better, and start winning.
K thanks bye.
Jim: I don't disagree with any of this, Jon. The talk of "tanking" is silly, really. I get some teams elect to play younger players when they're eliminated from contention, but even those guys are playing hard, playing for their jobs, and each other.
Ed Helinski from Auburn, New York
Question: How do you like the Titans chances of catching the Colts and Texans by season's end?
Jim: Still a lot of work to do, Ed. But with two games left vs the Texans, and a big one this Sunday against the Colts, there's at least a chance.
Cody Dan from Smithsburg, New Jersey
Question: should I make a lego football with the titans logo on it?
Jim: That would cool, Cody.
Justin Tibbs from Dyersburg, Tennessee
Question: I just wanted to point out what a bright future our Titans have with our rookies going forward Levis Skorinski and Spears man what a trio for years to come, not to mention those extra draft picks we received from Eagles for Byard. If we have draft hits next season like we did this season look out league cus my belief is we will be back to postseason form!!! Thanks Jim have a good one and TITAN UP !!!!!!
Jim: This is one of the most optimistic emails I've received in a while, Justin!
Frank Snyder from Rancho Cucamonga, California
Question: What do you think the Titans will do as far as Tannehill, Henry during the off season? Is Vrabel Safe? Think Henry will try to get a ring? Stay with the Titans? Tannehill has to be on his way, especially after getting knocked down to backup QB after 2 games this year...
Jim: These are questions for the offseason, Frank. The Titans still have six regular season games to go.
Have a great week everyone!