NASHVILLE – The losing streak is now at four games, and I can feel the frustration from Titans fans.
On a short week, there's no time to waste.
Let's get right into the mailbag…
Josh Harper from Billings, Montana
Question: Hey Jim. I'm just going to come out and say what I'm sure a heck of a lot of people are thinking. Bad luck surely can't be the only reason we are so banged up for the second year in a row. Some feel proud that we are able to have the most missed games from injury and still win. I find it concerning that we own this title two years in a row. I find myself reading the injury report and being very disappointed every week. We are never at a point where we are anywhere near full strength. Something has changed in the past few years, not sure what but player injuries and recovery need to be a major focal point this off season.
Jim: Hey Josh. This has become a popular topic in here, and I admit, I understand why. The Titans have used 80 players this season, which is most in the NFL (ahead of Arizona's 78). A bunch of more guys were hurt on Sunday, and five of the team's inactives were the result of guys being out because of injuries. A total of 16 guys are currently on Injured Reserve. I can't explain it. If I knew the answer, I'd tell someone. I don't think it can all be attributed to bad luck, and I don't think it can all be attributed to the team's strength and conditioning staff. There's no doubt it's having a major negative impact on this season, that's for sure. For the record, this is how Mike Vrabel responded on Monday when asked how much reflection has gone into assessing the injuries over the last few seasons: "We have changed a lot. Training camp has been different and we track all the injuries. We track how they occur. Some guys are repeat offenders. Some injuries occur in a game. We try to limit the ones that occur at practice. We were very conscious of the training camp schedule and practice schedule. We talked earlier about how we try to - we have done research on getting guys to 90 percent each and every week, so that it is not just once a week on Sundays. Sometimes on Wednesday and Thursday, Frank (Piraino) will walk around with the iPad, track guys, and say, 'Hey, I need you to get 90 percent.' They'll manufacture some sort of stride, so that it is not just that they hit 90 percent on Sunday, wait a week, and then all of a sudden go out and hit 90 percent. We're focusing on some of those things. Some guys are repeat offenders that have been showing up there more than once on some things that are maybe similar or maybe the same injury."
Suzi Reyes from Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Question: Hello Jim. As a season ticket holder it's hard to drum up the desire and willingness to come to the next two Titans home games, especially when the temps will be below freezing. The Titans offense is broken, although they do have capable players. Why can't the Titans who had a great two minute drive to tie the game against the Chargers, play that way, with the "two-minute urgency" throughout the entire game? Is Vrabel really willing to keep Downing as the OC at the possible risk of his own demise? Downing is a terrible OC. Let's give Tim Kelly a shot to call some games. At this point, what would it hurt? I doubt the offense would be worse, and might actually be better. It's time for Downing to be benched.
Jim: Hi Suzi. Vrabel has said he's not making any staff changes in season, and that's 100 percent his call. Your complaint on the OC also continues to be a popular topic in here. … Bring all you've got to the game on Saturday – it is supposed to be very cold. I'm not sure Buck Reising is going to survive this one.
Robert Gullo from Mullica Hill, New Jersey
Question: Hey Jim. I know the problem isn't Tannehill, but I really believe the offense succeeds much better with Willis. Do you think it is a possibility Tannehill gets benched and Willis takes over these next 3 games?
Jim: Tannehill is not getting "benched." He's the team's best quarterback, and he gives the team the best chance to win. The question is whether he'll be healthy enough to play on Saturday, or against the Cowboys in nine days. Another question: Does it make sense to hold him out the next two games to get him as healthy as possible for the season finale at Jacksonville? That, of course, is a game the Titans will likely need to win the division. I've already heard all kinds of opinions on this one outside the building.
Chris Berry from Cleveland, Tennessee
Question: Titans force 2 turnovers, Henry gets 100+ rushing yards averaging 5 per carry, and the Titans lose. That leaves a bad taste in your mouth if you are a Titans fan. If the rushing game is solid and the defense if forcing turnovers then that should be 'Titans Football'. I know there is never any single thing, but jeez we gotta know that 14 pts isn't going to win many NFL games. Negative plays definitely seem to be our Achilles heal.
Question: What happened to Clark being the next in line at left tackle like you've mentioned multiple times?
Jim: Le'Raven Clark had been next in line at left tackle – he was the guy who'd come in previously. But that changed in practices last week. We'll see what happens moving forward with Dillon now injured.
Devin Douglas from Memphis, Tennessee
Question: First off, 80 different players in one season from injury and it's not over yet, that's a lot to have to contend with. Injuries are a for sure plague on us right now. However, with that being presented, I just have a couple of questions. Why is Derrick "KING" Henry being removed from every 3rd downplay in the game. (at least most of them)? The least of all he can be a diversion. I really am sick of the lack of attention (In the media) we receive but it's now self-inflicted Our TITANS are better than what is portrayed in each game. I wasn't going to say anything about the OC but Dang, he has to see the same as everyone else watching the game sees. Are there any talks of him being replaced? I am a TITAN forever and I just want the team to be great and prove that they are. Playoffs we are coming.
Jim: Hi Devin. The Derrick Henry question is a popular one as well. I'll say this – he is out there some of the time on that down. (Yes, I know he wasn't at a critical time on Sunday). … There's a lot of talk about the OC being replaced in here and on my Twitter feed, but Vrabel has given no indication changes could happen in-season.
Terry Harris from Valencia, California
Question: Hey Jim, aside from the game I hope you had a good time out here in L.A. I skipped attending the game figuring they would get blown out with all of the injuries on the defense, and what ever that offense (or lack of) has been doing this year. Better ways to use money this time of year. I was shocked we hung in there. I know hindsight is 20-20, and we did get lucky with that incredible interception at the end of the half, but the Chargers drove the ball down the field in the 2 minute drill with relative ease. Having said that, I'm surprised that they didn't go for 2. No guarantees that they get it , but I think that it would have been better to try that than letting the team who's strength is passing the ball have a short field for a field goal attempt against are biggest weakness. What say you Jim, try for 2 or go for overtime.
Jim: Hi Terry. I was a pretty low-key trip for me. I walked to In-N-Out from the team hotel to get a Double Double on Saturday night, and that was a treat. I'd considered going to Killer Shrimp, my favorite spot in Marina del Rey. I always enjoy L.A., the weather and the palm trees. It's one of my favorite places, especially when the Dodgers are in town. As for game day, SoFi Stadium is spectacular – that was my third game there. I thought the Titans showed a lot of fight in the game, but right now the team is having a hard time doing the right things to win. … Vrabel said he'd considered going for two – but how crushing would it have been for you had the Titans gone ahead 15-14, only to lose 17-15?
Chuck Rhoten from Kingsport, Tennessee
Question: Close game. Titans just don't have enough talent. Hopefully we get a few players back on both sides of the ball. Looking at the schedules it looks like the Jags have the easiest path to the playoffs. Hopefully our new GM will cut loose some of the overpaid players that are not producing. We need OL help and WR. We need DB help and LB help. We need a FG kicker that is accurate. I don't know if we can fill all our needs this offseason because of the salary cap but hopefully improve. Hopefully our head coach will look to upgrade our OC and DC. I do think our team is giving great effort and should have won a couple of more games this year but our offense game plans were not that good. Hopefully we win out but seems unlikely.
Jim: Good to hear from you, Chuck.
Barry Pritchett from Guthrie, Kentucky
Question: When will the Titans play to win instead of playing not to lose? I know they have had a lot of injuries and that needs to be investigated too, but they play so they will either win by a field goal in the last minute or lose by a field goal in the last minute. Prevent defenses may stop touchdowns from being scored at the end of a half or game, but they often yield field goals. When a field goal will beat you, why do they continue to play prevent?
Jim: After playing well all game, the Titans defense botched the team's chances to force overtime by allowing the deep ball to Mike Williams, there's no doubt about it. But, I can say with 100 percent certainty the team was playing to win.
Dakota Houston from Knoxville, Tennessee
Question: Hey again Jim! As always, I hope you are well and I hope you and your family have a blessed Christmas here soon! Well… I think this season has a lot of struggle points with a highlight on injuries and a hard struggle from the O-line. I'm curious about the cap space for next year? I think we need Tanny but I know he ties up a lot along with Dupree, Landry (deservingly) and a few others? Do you see the Titans being able to keep key players while really being able to free some cap to bring on better offensive lineman (hope we keep Ben Jones) and getting some targets? Just curious what your view is on the cap overall. Thanks for the work you do! TitanUp!
Jim: Hey Dakota. Cap space? Cap space? The Titans just need to win a game. In all seriousness, I'll dive into this more when the season is over. Let's hope it's not on January 7-8 weekend. Have a blessed Christmas as well.
Greg Serheev from Bedmister, New Jersey
Question: Hi. Another typical Titans loss. The last throw to set up the game winning field goal could have simply been avoided by Mabin turning around to either intercept or to knock down the ball. Not his fault. He and all the DBs have been taught the wrong way to cover. How can you cover anyone when your back is facing the ball?? YOU CAN'T!! If the receiver can turn his head to catch the ball so can the DB!!
This has been a huge problem throughout the season because all the Titans DBs do it and get beat every time. They don't have eyes in the back of their heads so why not just TURN AROUND?? What's the worst that can happen, honestly?? The receiver catches the ball?? They do anyway!! At least you have a fighting chance to make a play at the ball when you're facing it.
Also...on third down or to get into field goal range, knowing the opponent needs a first down, would it kill someone to jump the route and get a pick??The entire stadium knows they are running a simple out pattern. Anticipate it and JUMP THE ROUTE!! Be the hero and win the game!! Instead, our DBs are giving a 10-15 yard cushion in the last 40 seconds as if to say "here ya go" win the game Chargers!!! Take some risks for God sake!!! Especially when you know you have safety help behind you!!
Who is teaching these garbage techniques ?? This is disgraceful !!
Come on man!!!
Jim: Happy Holidays, Greg.
Dick Clodfelter from Bell Buckle, Tennessee
Question: Hello Jim, and best wishes for a happy Christmas and New Year. Seems like the Titans have hit the end after losing to the Chargers. There's just no way they can continue to have any hope to advance into the playoffs without ANY semblance of an effective pass defense, let alone operating with a predictable and ineffective offense. I think my nearly 81 year old arm could exploit the Titans exceptionally porous excuse for a pass defense. Opposing team's quarterbacks must be salivating for the opportunity to play against the Titans. Forget the rest of this year and get ready to do what's necessary to improve for next year, hoping for that to be made possible.
Jim: It hasn't looked good of late, Dick, I admit it. But I'm not ready to concede the season yet.
Jack Walker from Calabasas, California
Question: Ok Jim. Hot take incoming. No wonder JRob was fired. Our most explosive receiver on the field is a rookie TE drafted in the 4th round. Let that sink in. We've completely wasted one of the best defenses in the league. Seeing the game in person, the WR room is terrible. Treylon Burks, when healthy is a WR3 at best... Vrabel has these young men playing unbelievably hard, they're playing out of their minds out there, thus the injuries. It's really painful to watch in person. The defense plus Derrick Henry don't deserve this dumpster fire. Bottom line, Jim... The Titans probably need to win 2/3 of the remaining games.
Jim: Hey Jack. Some fair points here. The way the Jaguars are playing, I think the Titans are going to need that win in Jacksonville.
Marc Combs from South Carolina
Question: I know it is not very likely, but can we still win the Super Bowl? Making the playoffs is still in question, but I believe we will find a way to finish and win the division, even if it requires the Jaguars to choke; something that is less likely with Lawrence at the helm. Tannehill is good enough to win playoff games and a Super Bowl. Henry certainly is one of the greatest of all time. Our defense will be even tougher when we get all the pieces back. Is there a way to improve the offensive line enough before the playoffs? Maybe replace Daley with a tackling dummy so defenders actually have to go around it to get to Tannehill? Maybe require Downing to have Henry on the field for ALL short yardage plays, get our injured players back, and start to play better when it matters most. All that being said, the best team doesn't always win. I've had a lot of heartbreak as a 50 year Oilers/Titans fan, so maybe we're due for some good to come when we least expect it.
Jim: Hey Marc. This is easily the most positive and optimistic emails I've received since Sunday. I feel like I need to cue the Jim Mora video…
Charles Johns from Hermitage, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim, I hope you and yours are doing well during the holiday season. That was a great effort by the defense considering it was a patchwork of backups and practice squad players. Hats off to that group. Yes I would have gone for 2 even though a field goal still beats us. The main reason is because we were already the walking wounded and playing for overtime just doesn't make sense in that situation. Question: why do we take Henry off the field on every third down even when it's third and short? Our third down success rate is pretty bad so that's not working. With no threat of a run the defense just pins their ears back to rush the passer. Our offensive personnel groupings and alignments give away what we're doing more than any other team I've watched. With all of the injuries I didn't want to write a negative post but count me in with the group wanting to give Tim Kelly a shot at calling plays. We still have enough talent to score more points than we've been putting up. If we could do that, the defense wouldn't have to play a perfect game for us to win. Going into next year it's pretty obvious we're going to have to score to keep up with Trevor Lawrence and the Jags. Give Tim Kelly a try to see what we have there and maybe he can even help us get to the playoffs this year and make some noise when we get there. Titan Up!
Jim: Thanks for chiming in, Charles.
Clint Phillips from Fletcher, North Carolina
Question: Well golly gee , I guess we'll just have to go back to the drawing board and try to play better. Lol
Firing the GM sure made a positive difference on the team, huh. The players aren't the problem. It's the OC and possibly a few more offensive assistants. Maybe they'll make the necessary changes after we lose the division and drop out of the playoff contention.
Jim: Three games left, Clint. Let's see how things play out.
Terry Anderson from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Question: Jim, Fire them all.
Jim: That would include me. I'm not in favor of this.
Luke Atherton from Alexandria, Pennsylvania
Question: Hey Jim! This is a little late to the party considering the Eagles game I went to was a couple weeks ago now. But I just wanted to say it was great despite the loss. Living in PA I don't get too many opportunities to see the titans play in person. Unfortunately they lost both times I was there (maybe I'm bad luck??) but getting signatures from you, Buck, Dylan Cole, and Vrabel himself might've been one of the most exciting experiences of my life! I hope all is well and I hope you have a good week and can finally get on to another mailbag after a titans win!
Jim: It was great to see you, Luke. Buck has given me a hard time about me printing my name – JIM WYATT – instead of a signature. Hey, at least you can read it. 😊
Brett Heard from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: Well, the window has not just closed, it has slammed shut. I'm a big fan of Vrabel, I hope he doesn't Mularkey himself and go out in a blaze with his TE run loving Offensive Coordinator. The NFL is selling a product and right now the product in Nashville is poor, dull and boring to watch.
Jim: Good to hear from you, Brett.
Bill Holmes from Fairport, New York
Question: Well, after being humiliated in the prior two games, at least this one was competitive. But where after the Eagles game I felt like the title was ours to lose (jut finish 3-2 with at least one Jacksonville win), now I could see us dropping every remaining game. Dallas is too good and Jacksonville and Houston are playing their best football of the season. If the Jags beat the Jets and we lose to Houston, the Jags take over first place by virtue of the tiebreaker - then we have to beat Dallas AND beat the Jags on the road, and even that might not be enough.
I love our toughness, but we just are outmanned with too many injuries. Watching the games lately, I feel like we're a good lightweight contender facing a heavyweight champ. Yeah, we get a few knocks in and might even win a round, but you know at some point that punch in the face is coming and we won't get off the mat.
Kudos to our defense for the job they have done all year, and that play by McCreary and Kalu was the best play I've seen all year by anyone. And anyone who doubts Tannehill's toughness hopefully shuts up after that effort. But if we drop the next 2 and are eliminated, I hope they rest everyone they can and play all the rookies and bench guys to preserve the health - and maybe lives - of our core players.
Jim: Good to hear from you again, Bill.
Franky Markle from Dyersburg, Tennessee
Question: Thanks Jim for all you do!! No matter what happens these next 4 weeks, I'm proud to be a Titans fan. #17 is a LEGEND!!! I think the injuries have taken their toll. Maybe something good will happen. The NFL is crazy. TitanUp
Jim: Appreciate it, Franky. Four more weeks of Titans football would guarantee a playoff appearance. I'm sure a lot of folks would take that, and obviously want more.
Bear Butler from Somerville, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim, I was pleasantly surprised that the defense held up against Herbert and the passing game as well as they did. The secondary was getting INT's. The D-line was getting pressures, sacks, and some nasty looking qb hits. The offense didn't give up and they showed some grit getting that late touchdown to tie the game. If not for that x-play by Herbert at the end the game would have went to OT, and who knows we may have gotten the win. And from what I saw it is too bad Radunz got hurt he looked like a significant upgrade at left tackle. And it sucks the Cowboys didn't get it done in Jacksonville now Malibu Barby has pulled the Jags within one for the lead in the AFC South.
Jim: This is all true about the game, Bear. Hard to draw that conclusion on Radunz being a significant, though. Yes, Dennis Daley continues to struggle. But Dillon only played 15 snaps. Yes, I know the obvious comeback is that anyone would be an upgrade over Daley. I'm just saying Dillon has more to prove and I'm not sure he's going to get a chance because of the knee injury …
Billy Horton from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim I hope you and yours are doing well this holiday season. I wanted to share a few thoughts on these Titans after a close loss to a very good Chargers team.
I'm a realist and optimist but didn't give us much chance with 8 defensive guys out and Big Jeff on a bum ankle. Man this coaching staff does a great job of getting guys ready to play. This team exceeded my expectations even though we didn't get the W.
Herbert is the real deal (so is Ekeler) and has a Howitzer for an arm. What a great performance by an undermanned Titans D and staff getting the next man up ready to represent. What a gutsy performance.
J Rob did a great job of adding depth defensively.
McCreary is a STUD. Full stop.
Kalu keeps making clutch plays against top AFC teams.
That was a championship caliber defensive play!
Chig is the most dangerous offensive skill weapon we have outside the King. Get that man the ball more.
I hope we get stronger at PK.
Stonehouse is a STUD. Full stop.
OL play has got to get better in pass pro. Good to see Radunz at T even though he made some mistakes. At least he has potential to improve if he gets reps.
Loved seeing the TE crossers late. We need more of that early and often.
Willis keeps looking better each time I see him. Growth!
Hope Tannehill gets well soon. Man he's tough!
Hope Autry gets well soon. And all our injured players. But especially Autry. He's the straw that stirs the front 7.
Love the passes to Henry. Keep getting him the ball in space.
All I want for Christmas is a Titans Super Bowl Championship this season! (And a new stud LT!)(and a perpetually and greatly healthier team that perennially dominates the league as the greatest dynasty in sports history!)
I'm not asking for much… Happy Holidays and Titan up Navy and Baby Crazies!
Jim: Lots in here, Billy. Happy Holidays to you!
Have a great week everyone!