NASHVILLE, Tenn. – We're another week into the offseason, and another week closer to Super Bowl LIII.
Then it will be time to officially turn the page to the 2019 season.
Until then, we have a few more games to watch – and the Titans have an offensive coordinator to hire.
And right here, we have another Titans mailbag to bang out.
Let's do this…
Scott Weaver from Brownsville, Pennsylvania
Question: Hi Jim. I am a big Titans/Oilers fan since the late 80s who lives in Steeler country lol my house is divided with Titans and Steelers stuff. I really like Marcus and do think he can be a franchise QB but 2019 is going to be a crucial year for him. Do you think that maybe if he bulked up a bit he could take more punishment? Also we all know the O-line and WR and D line need addressed, but I don't think we are that far away from being a Super Bowl contender. … My wife and I are coming down to Nashville for the draft in our Titans and Steelers gear lol. We love Nashville – it's a great town. Have a great day.
Jim: Hey Scott. Good question on Marcus bulking up. His weight has actually fluctuated in offseasons past. He's added a few pounds of muscle some offseasons, and trimmed down leading up to others. In reality, I'm not so sure bulking up would protect him from some of the injuries he's dealt with. The nerve issue was fluky, the injury to his fibula would've broken a bigger QBs leg, the knees aren't necessarily preventable, etc. But I get where you're coming from. As for your question about contending, I do think the franchise is in a decent position, but more pieces are needed. Lastly, the draft is going to make for a fun weekend in Nashville! Hope you've booked your room!
Jeremy Rodriguez from San Diego, California
Question: Hi Jim, I've been an Oilers/Titans fans all of my 40 years of life! I wanted to say thanks to the Titans organization for the way they support our military. I am active duty Navy and love to show off how Mrs. Amy supports our armed forces. My question is, with Marcus now having his fourth or fifth OC, will this be a make or break season for Marcus? Will he have to have his best season yet for the Titans to sit down and make a long-term deal?
Jim: Hey Jeremy. First off, thanks for your service. As for Mariota, well, I have to think it's make-or-break time. He's headed into the final year of his rookie deal (the option year), and he's going to have to prove to management and coaches he can be counted on. He'll need to play well, and stay healthy. Titans GM Jon Robinson said last week he wants to keep Mariota around long-term. That doesn't necessarily mean he's going to sign Mariota to a long-term deal in the coming months, or even next offseason. There are options the two sides would need to work through, and don't forget the franchise tag is among the possibilities. Right now, a lot could happen next offseason, from a long-term deal, the team using the franchise tag, Mariota moving on, etc. How Mariota performs in 2019 will likely determine which direction things go.
Dennis Frankson from Point Hope, Alaska
Question: Hey Jim!! First time writing. Disappointing to not be in the playoffs but injuries did plague us this year. I really liked the defense this year and think we should bring everyone back. Although I think our main focus on the draft should be a cornerback and improve the offensive line. We also need a wide receiver but I think we should pick that up in free agency or trade. Do you think Antonio Brown would be a big help or would he be too much of a locker room distraction?
Jim: Hey Dennis. I disagree on main focus of draft. Cornerback? We're not on the same page here. I understand what you're saying about the o-line, and the interior will be addressed. Same with receivers. What happens in the draft hinges on what happens on free agency first, of course. I've touched on Antonio Brown in previous mailbags, and I get several questions a week. I'm sure every fan base wants him. How much of a distraction would come with his dynamic play is what GMs must consider.
Alan Martinez from Humble, Texas
Question: I've been a fan since the 70's beginning with the Great Earl Campbell. Love watching Titans QB Marcus Mariota but as all true fans feel he hasn't had the OC coach to really use his talent. I'm just an arm chair critic but has the front office thought of Scott Frost his college OC and QB coach from Oregon as his Titans OC?
Jim: Hey Alan. You do realize Scott Frost is the head coach at Nebraska, right? He signed a seven-year, $35 million deal last offseason. I read in the Omaha World-Herald if Frost left Nebraska for another job, he'd owe Nebraska $2.5 million per year for the remainder of the contract. That's more than what OCs make in the NFL. I think you can eliminate Frost from consideration….
Chad Heitman from Alvin, Texas
Question: Hey Jim. Oiler/Titan fan since Luv Ya Blue Days. I know Titans are taking their time with OC search. Praying we get someone long term, for Offensive continuity and Mariota success. My thought is to go with Gary Kubiak. Seems content at OC now, has a proven track record, and is offensive scheme seems like a perfect fit for our offensive weapons (Mariota, Henry, Walker, and Davis). QB play hurt him in Houston, but got a really good year out of Schaub. What are your thoughts?
Jim: Hey Chad. I was intrigued by Kubiak myself, but the Vikings hired him on Monday.
Russell Martin from Magnolia, Texas
Question: Hi Jim thanks for keeping us fans in Texas informed. My question is don't you think that Mark Helfrich would be a better choice for OC? He knows Marcus very well and just look what he did with Trubisky, I just wish the best for Marcus and the Titans, thanks from Texas.
Jim: Hey Russell. Glad to hear your namesake is back in the Dodgers system! Helfrich's name is also a popular one, and I understand why. I also know he's still under contract with the Bears. While Rams head coach Sean McVay was gracious enough to let Matt LaFleur come to Tennessee last offseason to take on play-calling duties, there's no certainty Bears head coach Matt Nagy would do the same with Helfrich. So while Helfrich is an intriguing candidate, he's also not a free agent. We'll have to see how this plays out.
Marco Antonio from Nezahualcoyotl, Estado de México
Question: Hello Jim. Thanks first of all thanks for listening and answering all our concerns, are fans of the titans that were oil (1986), my question is: Would be feasible for the position of offensive coordinator can invest or look at: Brian Schottenheimer, Jim Caldwell, Cam Cameron, Joe Philbin, Bill Callahan, Greg Roman, Zac Taylor or some assistants in Philadelphia to be more successful on offense? Thanks for your time and attention.
Jim: Oh man, Marco. My head is spinning now. That's a lot of candidates. All I can say right now is Coach Vrabel is working off his list. I'm sure he's had it ready since he hired his staff last offseason, and updated it since. I'm sure it includes guys in-house and out, from the NFL to the college ranks. I'll just say you can probably take Taylor off your list – it sounds like he's getting the head coaching job with the Bengals.
Adam Peek from Cookeville, Tennessee
Question: Hello, Jim. Love my Titans! Do you think we will ever see a pass rusher get 15 or more sacks in a season? Kearse was the last guy to show that type of dominance with 14.5. I know we still need a mass amount of help in all areas. I would love to see a dominant figure on our D line for a change. Most importantly like to see the culture change from good to great from bottom to top! #TITANS2019 #CHAMPIONSORBUST #BRINGOUTTHEDAWGS
Jim: Hey Adam. That's going to be tough to do. I've witnessed some pretty good pass rushers since, from Kyle Vanden Bosch to Jason Babin and more. Vanden Bosch got 12 one year, 12.5 the next. Babin has 12.5 in his one season with the Titans. Who's going to top 14.5? I'll believe it when I see it…
Ardie Doss from Belleville, Illinois
Question: What do you think the Titans primary needs are going into the NFL 2019 draft? The second question is will the Titans go after a big play receiver and running back to complement Henry and Davis?
Jim: Receiver, interior o-line, receiver, and a big and nasty defensive linemen are my top four needs. And yes, I think a big-play receiver will be added.
Boz Backen from Hulett, Wyoming
Question: Hey Jim. I know it's the NFL and changes happen all the time. I am a big Mariota guy I love how he represents himself and the Titans. He's a guy that will do whatever it takes to help team win. I know fans are disappointed in him but I kinda feel for the guy. I know he is working to help team to win a Super Bowl. My question is how hard is it for a QB every year it seems having a new OC calling the shots? Does each coach want to bring in their own system that Mariota has to now relearn? Or does Vrabel say this is what we want to look like as an offense?
Jim: Hey Boz. It's very difficult. The offensive coaches come with their own offense, and usually their own verbiage. GM Jon Robinson said he's talked with Vrabel about trying to keep things as similar as possible for Mariota moving forward. A lot depends on who is hired, and while Vrabel certainly is making the call on who his OC will be, he's also going to let the guy hired do his thing for the most part. It's how he handled things with Matt LaFleur last year on offense and Dean Pees on defense.
Michael Bailey from Kernersville, North Carolina
Question: My question is one that I've asked at least once each year and yet we run into the SAME issue every year. We have a GREAT QB in Marcus Mariota and there's no denying it. However, I believe our problem is STILL the back-up QB. I'm not saying Gabbert, Cassel, and Hasselbeck aren't good QBs (though I have my opinions...haha). When our scheme includes the threat of designed or even unscripted runs, the defense must take a man out of coverage or from the rush to spy the QB. Or the rush is tempered to try to keep him in the pocket instead of pinning their ears back. When we put our recent back-ups in the game, we allow the Defense to add that extra person back to the secondary or the rush (creating more potential for picks or sacks). Can we PLEASE ask the management to get a back up QB that will present the same threats as Mariota? (Josh Johnson/Redskins, Tyrod Taylor, Teddy Bridgewater, RG III, or even go to the draft and get Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, or either of Alabama QBs Tua Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts). It won't let the defense have a chance to relax thinking they have one less threat to worry about. Also, we wouldn't have to change our game plan at all.
Jim: Hey Michael. Your point is always a popular one with the fan base. I just think when the GM/HC are looking at back-up options, they're looking more at the best player/fit, and not necessarily someone who plays a similar style as Marcus. You bring up some interesting names. You also bring up some guys who simply aren't options. Lawrence, Tagovailoa and Hurts will all be playing in college in 2019.
Jarrod Williams Lucedale, Mississippi
Question: Hey Jim I'm glad to hear Robinson talk highly of Mariota and I don't really think our young receivers were as bad as people make them out to be. Not to mention we'll get Walker back. I recently read an article that stated the John Elway would be willing to deal Von Miller. I believe we should offer a 2nd or 3rd round pick (possibly both) for him and then spend our 1st round pick on the best interior lineman available. What's your thoughts on this? And thanks for everything you do!
Jim: Hey Jarrod. It's fun to think about, huh? But don't get your hopes up. It sounds like Elway's quotes last week on the subject – which started a social media firestorm – were taken out of context. I don't see the Broncos trading him -- but he'd definitely make me think about changing my answer to Adam's 15-sack season question.
Slobodan Maricic from Sombor, Serbia
Question: Hello Jim. Happy New Year to you and to everyone fighting for the Titans! I've been Titans fan for the last 17 years (the first time I watched NFL game in Serbia in 2001 I fell in love with the sport and this franchise), and I must say I feel the good days are coming back. Last year we've seen some great things and the team really moving forward, but we also saw some bad things we can't seem to fix for the last few years. However, we have a very young team that managed to finish the season with a positive score and that just brings hope that the Titans are capable of doing great things. I'm 100% positive that if we had weapons from Delanie Walker and some others available this season we could've maybe get to a bye week in the playoffs, it wasn't that far away, but after he got injured the staff should've put more trust in the one veteran receiver we were left with, Rishard Matthews, and I think that not giving him enough targets and releasing him afterwards hurt us a lot. We needed someone with experience to lead the team. Also, I'm very sad for seeing Marcus getting hurt at the most important part of the season every time, and if that trend continues, the team needs to find a substitute of his caliber to be able to cover him. Yeah, I know Gabbert had 2-1 as a starter this year, but he's not the one who made a difference and really led the team to victory. I wish Marcus could stay healthy at important times, but most of his injuries are done due to some stupid circumstance, like a bad fall or stuff like that. Being a sports person myself, I can suggest that should Marcus take a few lessons of judo and practice falling down. Getting a feeling of how to correctly fall could reduce the chance of upcoming injuries and increase the chance of protecting his body. I write this from personal experience, I've never been injured above my ankles after learning how to fall down thanks to judo. Really hope you will forward this suggestion to Marcus so we can have him healthy and spot on for the next season. Oh, and one more thing... why is staff so ignorant about fans request to bring Colin Kaepernick to the team, it's obvious similar playing style to Marcus' could only bring positive stuff, as well as his experience. Their athleticism could also make OC to bring up new innovative gameplan which could combine having them both on the field and bring the game to a new level? Would be fun to watch that too. Sorry for writing a bit more than maybe needed, but it's my first mail, and please don't pay attention for possible grammar mistakes. Best regards from Serbia, I wish everyone all the best in 2019 once again! Cheers!
Jim: Hello Slobodan! Thanks for weighing in from Serbia! Interesting take on judo lessons for Marcus. Write any time! Cheers to you!
Robert Conlon from Baltimore, Maryland
Question: Hey Jim, massive Titans' fan here since '78 with the Oilers. Do you happen to know what Mariota is saying before most of the snaps - It sounds like "down, down, goose"... Just curious. Go Titans.
Jim: Hey Robert. It probably varies from play to play. Based on where he went to college, though, the answer to this is probably "Duck, Duck, goose." … Thank you. I'm here every Tuesday and Saturday … :)
Have a great week everyone!