NASHVILLE – It's time to get back to football, and time to get back on track.
The Titans return to the practice field on Wednesday to really ramp up preparations for Sunday's game against the Ravens.
With losses in three of the last four games, the team needs to get things figured out.
Speaking of answers, I'll do my best to give you some in here in the latest Titans mailbag.
Here's the link to ask questions: CLICK HERE
Robert V from New York, New York
Question: Hey Jim - Lifelong fan and first-time contributor so thanks for all you do to keep us informed from afar. Born and raised in Nashville, I remember the countless seasons of Eddie-up-the middle for 2 yards and 8-8 records give or take a win/loss so I've learned to temper my expectations - but am quite happy with where the organization is headed (keep it up J-Rob and Vrabel). With that said, a lot of the questions in this column recently have been negative so I wanted to get your thoughts on the path forward (hopefully positive). The way the division is turning out it's a race to the top between the Colts and Titans. The Titans have one additional out-of-conference game moving forward (BAL, CLE, GB, DET) compared to the Colts (GB, LV, PIT). All of these opponents are capable and near top of their divisions. Barring any possible hiccups of either the Colts or Titans losing to JAX or HOU - I think that the winner of the AFC South comes down to these out-of-conference games and the final head-to-head matchup between the Colts and Titans in Week 12. What are your thoughts on the upcoming schedules for both the Colts and Titans against these offense-heavy teams considering the Colts have one of the best defenses in the league and the Titans have been struggling on defense? Will the Titans have to resort to track meets to win the division, or is there any hope for some improvisations to sure up the defense?
Jim: Hey Robert. Thanks for writing in. I've looked at the schedules, too, and both teams have some challenging games coming up. I'll be completely honest here. When the Titans got to 5-0, with one of those wins being a blowout win against the Bills, I thought the team would win the division going away. The Titans were rolling, and playing with an attitude. The results in the last four weeks, which has produced a 1-3 mark and losses to the Steelers, Bengals and Colts, have been pretty discouraging for a number of reasons. The defense hasn't been playing well, the offense has slowed down, and the special teams unit has been shaky. Meanwhile, I look at the Colts and see a surging team. Are the Titans are capable of getting hot like last season and making another memorable run? Absolutely. But the team is going to have to step up and play a whole lot better than it has in recent weeks. If that doesn't happen, then the Titans will be sitting at 6-6 with a quarter left in the season and the questions and comments in these mailbags are going to be a lot uglier than they've been of late.
Jose Robledo from Corpus Christi, Texas
Question: Hi Jim Jose Robledo from Corpus Christi Texas I've been a Houston Oiler fan since I was 7 years old and now I'm a Titan fan and I'm 61 years old I think the Titans are a great team and I think the defense is doing a good job even though people don't think so but I've noticed that our quarterback is playing about 70% effort instead of 100 % and our defense is out there too long which is giving us problems what do you think?
Jim: Well, Jose, I think this is a 100% ridiculous observation Tannehill. Playing with a 70% effort? Give me a break.
A Stambene Lethbridge, Canada
Question: Was looking forward to game against the Colts. Turned badly for the Titans which was unfortunate. Can't help but think that homegrown talent does better than players that are brought on board (Clowney, Beasley)! I know in today's NFL GM's have to utilize the draft and Free Agency but...The Titans have had success with other teams players but just wish they just stick to the plan of drafting their own players who have a loyalty to the team(Titans) and not the almighty dollar! Sorry for the rant...just wish we had had Casey back and Logan Ryan cause the defense sure needs them. Plus, can we recognize what the blocking scheme is on the Offensive side so we can get some pressure and sacks. The pass rush has been pathetic and I don't see it improving anytime soon. And the schedule looks like it's going to get a lot tougher the next few games
Jim: I hear ya, and thanks for writing in. I've always been a big fan of Jurrell Casey myself, but keep in mind one of the reasons the team traded him away was because of concerns about his health moving forward, considering he was banged up in 2019. And his season ended in Denver in September because of a biceps tear. We'll never know what would have happened had he stayed here, but we can't ignore the fact he was placed on Injured Reserve after Week 3 this year.
Lenore Locatelli from Thomson's Station, Tennessee
Question: So what are we going to do about it? Beyond the standard "we've got to do a better job of....." I'm a 76 yr old gramma .. Do I need to suit up? ... maybe kick? I love my boys in blue! A team of really impressive good men off the field...now let's again get impressive on the field.
Jim: I like the spunk, Lenore!
Kevin from Honolulu, Hawaii
Question: Jim, I've been watching every Titans game for the past 6 years now and my opinion of this years Titans is this. I think GM J ROB has done an excellent job putting together a competitive football team. I also think HC Mike Vrabel is a very good HC. I also think Arthur Smith is a vey good OC. Mike Vrabel has gotten this team together despite all the Covid hardships they had to endure at the beginning of the season. He got the team in football ready shape at the beginning of this season while all the other teams were still in preseason mode producing a 5-0 start. Arthur Smith had also done a fine job with the offense during that time. However our INVISIBLE DC has done a terrible job of coaching this year! He has no defensive schemes for all 3 levels of our football team. Evident in Harold Landry's and Jadeveon's lack of sacks and also Kevin Byard's lack of production so far this year. Everybody's getting on our defensive players cases when it's not even their fault. It's the INVISIBLE DCs fault. We have soooo much talent this year defensively but no one to steer them in the right direction This team with our INVISIBLE DC is like a ship w/o a rudder. Just flowing aimlessly from game to game hoping for a favorable outcome. So all you fans don't get mad at our GM,HC or our OC. GET MAD AT OUR INVISIBLE DC! And I don't want to hear it about Malcom Butler anymore. He and the whole defense is giving 110% on each and every play! He is one of the bright stars on this rudderless defense! We should have squeaked by a win on the Steelers and the Bengals and should have beaten the Colts by 10 if it wasn't for our INVISIBLE DC! So there you have it, MY OPINION. Let's keep on supporting our team no matter what and hopefully next year we will move on from our INVISIBLE DC and TRULY DOMINATE!!! Aloha (from the VISIBLE FAN)
Jim: Aloha, Kevin.
Mart Fendley from Clarksville, Tennessee
Question: Correct me if I'm wrong, but had the kicking game been solid, the Titans would be undefeated.
Jim: I disagree. Kicking game or not, only one team deserves to be undefeated right now, and it's the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Titans deserve to be 6-3.
Larry Yarbrough from Clarksville, Tennessee
Question: Jim: Hello Jim, I can only say: Support the team. If the Titans straighten this out and go to the playoffs or even the Super Bowl everyone will forget about all this. And the sore losers will become hardcore Titans fans once again. Titan up fans!!!!
Jim: You tell 'em, Larry!
Jordan Newbury from Cushing, Texas
Question: Hey Jim. Though I'm not a bit thrilled about how our team has played the last few weeks, there is evidence that hope for a turnaround isn't all that far-fetched. There was a team last season that hit a pretty rough skid in all 3 phases of the game, and it came after a hot start. That team went on to win the Super Bowl! KC's prolific offense hit a cold spell to go with a mediocre defense , and if I remember correctly, had a special teams meltdown at the end of regulation versus our Titans in week 10. They made adjustments and earned the ultimate team goal in the sport! So, why not us?
Jim: Hey Jordan. I like the positivity. Of course it's still a possibility, but there's no doubt the Titans are going to need to make a lot of improvements, starting on Sunday in Baltimore.
Dakota Eltzroth from Knoxville, Tennessee
Question: Whew! I just read your most recent mailbag drop and wow... I will say that no matter the frustrations I will always root for this team and let's hope we can turn it back around this year. My thoughts on the team and tell me what you think: Jack Conklin ( a big loss to the O-line) is with another team, Taylor Lewan has had a season ending injury ( I pray for his own health and well being as an individual), Roger Saffold went down and Ben Jones went out and came back in with an injury... You are looking at a big hit to the O-line with three (and a half starters if you want to somewhat count Ben's injury while playing) offensive lineman down/out/to another team and well... who knows where our First round draft pick is- those are the front line guys, it is going to take some time to recover from that and correct it, you can't assume your back-ups are going to be the Brady of linemen and do better than the starters; Next is the defense, they played a lot better (in my opinion) as two scores really go against the punting unit in my perspective ( one 17 yard punt that gave them momentum and one blocked for a score) take that away and now you are looking at a 17-20 game outcome... Not bad as the offense could have had some momentum and changed the game but it is what it is; Lastly is Gostkowski, look, I like the guy, I think he is a great kicker who needs to get it figured out (Let's just move all kicks to 50 yards for him?) and remember why he played for the Patriots and why we chose him. Let's hope we have some more reason for optimism and turn it back around! TitanUp!
Jim: Hey Dakota. Some folks sounded off, huh? And they still are. Hey, I'm happy to give fans a chance to voice their opinions, just as long as they keep it clean. I know no one wants to talk about how good the field looks after a 34-17 loss to a division rival. You make some good observations. I think we all agree the Titans need to find a way to fix their problems if this season is going to end well.
David Vallee from Vernon, Connecticut
Question: Hi Jim. Long-time fan of you and the Titans. Love your answers luv your sarcasm. You are more of a Titans psychologist than an information machine. But my question to you is I just found out there giving our kicker Gostkowski $2.75 million dollars. How can they justify that? In my job or any job if I don't perform well I don't make I don't make squat. He should give some back just saying. … Haha … Anyway I'll still be a fan been for 45 years can't quit now. Just wish we get one more Super Bowl I'm running out of years Anyway thanks I feel better now I can skip my therapy this week. Go Titans.
Jim: Thanks, David. And that cost you two pencils… 😊
E.M. McFarland from San Diego, California
Question: Hey Coach Vrabel. It seems it is time to hire a Defensive Cordinator or become one for another team. Your plan is not working so well. Our guys run themselves out of play, they allow other teams to make uncontested catches in between a group of 3 defenders. We run away from the ball. Time to Titan up! We are being outschemed and outplayed on a regular basis on the Defensive side of the ball.
Jim: Wrong email address, E.M.
Tony Malgiero from El Paso, Texas
Question: Hey, Jim!! Enough about the players and coaches!! Tell us something about our other favorite Titan, Jim Wyatt. When the team isn't playing because of a bye week or a weekend off like after a Thursday night game, what do you normally do? Do you try to take a vacation? Do you do something simple like spend more time at home or with family? Do you feel the need to decompress? I know this year is probably different because of Covid, but what would you do during the weekend after a Thursday in a normal year?
Jim: Well, thanks for asking Tony. It was a good weekend, I must say. Went to see my alma mater, Father Ryan, play in a playoff game Friday night, watched a lot of college and pro football on TV, visited my parents (from a safe distance, of course), hung out with my family, went for a run at Percy Warner Park, raked some leaves, went for a drive downtown, got a little work done, and a little more sleep. It was actually pretty nice. Now it's back to the grind and hopefully it will go into February.
Scott Menard from Portland, Texas
Question: I know fan's are upset with way Titans been playing after 5-0 start. With everyone crying about the no DC issue. I been wondering, you think Vrabel did this in anticipation of his long-time close friend and former DC Romeo Crennel expiring contract after this year and was making sure he had DC job available for him for 2021? Just makes waaay more sense than deciding him and LB coach could multi-task throughout games coaching linebackers and game calling at same time.
Jim: I do not subscribe to this theory, Scott.
David Buck from Germantown, Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim. Been a fan since Bud brought the Oilers to Memphis for that one year. Offense is there and can make the plays when needed even with a banged up O'line. Defense needs a leader on the field, just doesn't seem like one person is taking charge there which is sometimes all you need to right the ship. Special teams, ugh, don't know what is going on there but that job has to be 50% head game. Stephen knows what he is doing, saw him make these kicks blindfolded as a Tiger here in Memphis (and as a Pat). He'll get it right. Hey, love the game good or bad. Go Titans Go.
Jim: Thanks for taking the time, David.
Bobby Young from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: What's up Jim? I grew up watching the Titans. Wanted to say that to me Breon Borders has been the best back up for Adoree all year. I think the defense will be mean and gritty for the playoffs because they know they have to be. My question for u is: With this high-powered offense we have do u think this team would beat the Super Bowl Titans of 99?
Jim: Hey Bobby. I agree Borders has been solid of late after being thrown into the fire. As for the defense, I know a lot of Titans fans hope you're right! Answering your question, the Titans of the last four weeks would not beat the Titans of '99. Ask me again in late December or early January.
Christopher Harris from College Station, Texas
Question: I hope all is well. I have a statement: I realize most coaches are loyal to their staff and players, especially ones they've hired or signed. Vabrel is the best coach we've had in a Long time. I really hope he can make sounds business decisions when it comes to staff and players he has personal relationships with. Have a great week!
Jim: Thanks, Christopher.
Trout Dawg from Long Beach, California
Question: What's the vibe around the team? The team leaders are so different now. I used to hear about how good the locker was ... Are the guys getting along? Do they enjoy each other? So excited to be in the race. Having been a fan my whole life it's so different being a consistent winner. Reading the comments by fans each week it is so obvious most people have no idea what an NFL football season is... Titans played in the AFC championship game last year and have won 3 playoff games in the last 3 years. SO AWESOME.. I CAN FEEL THE FRANCHISE TRENDING INTO THE UPPER CLASS OF THE LEAGUE. TITAN UP
Jim: What's up Trout Dawg?! Well, guys are ticked off right now. In the last month, the team has gone from being the No.1 seed in the AFC to the outside looking in at the playoff race. But you're right – it's a long season, and with seven games left, there's time to right the ship. It's a tough road coming up, though, no doubt.
Have a great week everyone!