NASHVILLE – At the halfway point of the season, the Titans are 4-4.
Next up is a game against the Carolina Panthers.
And right now, another Titans mailbag.
Let's do this ...
Bob Easley from Austin, Texas
Question: Jim, Coach Vrabel is a tough coach and a players coach who believes in his guys!! However, if I was the GM, I would tell him that I need him to be the adult on the field on those calls where he goes for it on 4th down. I was hoping he learned from his 4th down fake field goal attempt but when I heard his press conference, he didn't sound like he learned a thing. We dodged a potential season-killing bullet!! If the whistle hadn't blown that play dead, we would have probably lost - not to mention we very well could have lost the best punter in the league who took a massive hit!! Question: Jim, would you tell Coach Vrabel this for me? haha
Jim: Not sure of the play you're referring to here, Bob. Just kidding. 😊
It was a gutsy call, no doubt. And yes, I've heard a lot of feedback on that one, some of it not so positive. If you're coming here to see me bashing coaching decisions, well, you've come to the wrong place. The team website probably isn't the place you'll find that. But I'll say this: I'm not surprised he did it, and by now no one else should be either. It's the way Vrabel has coached since he took over last year. I'm not going to sit here and say I've agreed with every call he's made. But I also haven't been against every one of them either. Against the Chargers, I was on board with going for it on 4th and 1 on the sneak – and I thought Ryan Tannehill got it, aside from a bad spot. Time will tell if Vrabel mellows in time, but I suspect he's going to continue to be aggressive.
Casey Moore from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim. .. Jim is my Dad's name (short for James actually) anyway.. How much longer do you think it's going to take before one of Mike Vrabel's gambles with trick plays & or just not playing the percentages of possible outcomes & taking almost sure points even if it is just 3 but as anyone knows points in the NFL are hard to come by. This drives me crazy as a fan. I'm asking this question because of the fake FG Brett Kern play that clearly got blown up this past Sunday against the Bucs. But this kind of mismanagement goes all the way back to the Titans / Chargers game in London in 2018 where he chose to go for 2-point conversion instead of kicking an extra point with Ryan Succop to give the Titans a chance in overtime. My concern is that if this reckless decision making in crucial moments of games keeps up it could cost us big at some point.
Jim: Hey Casey. Same here – I'm James Randall. Well, I hit on this right out of the gate, but you took me back to London, too, so I'll go there. I liked that decision – to go for the win. I didn't like the play-call, but I liked going for two and the win. Personally, I would have given the ball to Derrick Henry in London. I've heard a lot of folks say the Titans are due to lose a game because of some of these decisions. The way I see it, the Titans are due to have some of these aggressive calls work.
Eli Decko from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Question: Hey Jim, another win and another beautiful Monday morning as a result! The TEAM is so bonded right now and it is so evident that the only thing more obvious is the sun coming up everyday. Marcus continues to show his love for his teammates by encouraging them on the sidelines and getting in Ryan's ear when he leaves the field, it's beautiful man. Derrick almost had another 99yd TD, had it not been for him trying to stiff arm half the state he would have made it. Some penalties costed him another 100yd game, but things happen. His fumble was the weirdest one I've ever seen, but did you see his response? These guys actually care! It's awesome to see that. How about our defense though man? Even though Evans tore up some zones it not even slightly affected the resolve of our secondary. Talk about leadership. It seems everyone is accountable. So my question is this, and it's simple, Carolina next week, can we keep this going? The road seems to be our biggest weakness. Thanks for your time Jim, share the love with the team for me!
Jim: Hey Eli. Good to hear from you again. Definitely a lot of positives coming out of the game, and some things that need to be cleaned up as well. Can the Titans keep it going? Well, it's a week-to-week challenge. Definitely a winnable game in my opinion coming up against the Panthers, but it's also a game where if the Titans don't play well, they'll be back under .500. Need to find a way to win this one.
Tyler Ebert from Hanover, Pennsylvania
Question: Hey Jim! I would like to start off by saying that it sure feels good to end the streak of W-L-L-W-L-L and to get ourselves back in the hunt. Once again, our defense proved that they can and will get the job done when it matters most but, our offense always seems to try and give the game away late in the fourth quarter... Case in point, trying to sneak it on 4th and 1 last week against LA, and the most obvious and concerning moment when we attempted a fake field goal against TB.... WHAT IS VRABEL THINKING?!?!? (Also, is he the only one responsible for these decisions?) That should have been an easy call to take the points and go up by 7 but instead, we have our all-pro punter running a fake and nearly getting decapitated. If it wasn't for a huge officiating mistake that missed the fumble, TB would have taken it to the house and taken the lead. With that all being said, I like that we are being aggressive but the choices that have been made in these important situations are simply reckless.
Nonetheless, I thought we played another solid game and got another W on that excellent defense (even though my nerves were shot as the game was winding down....). Let's ride this momentum and keep pushing towards January! TITAN-UP!!!
Jim: Hey Tyler. Definitely good to get the win. The defense was solid and the offense stepped up when it mattered most – with a 12-play, 90-yard drive to win it. And I'll say it again on the 4th and 1 sneak – I would have done the same thing. I think Tannehill got it, but the spot was terrible. And that could have ended up costing the Titans the game, just like that early whistle might have robbed Tampa Bay in the game Sunday – Kern lost the ball, and Tampa Bay returned it for a touchdown. As for who is responsible for the decision—Vrabel is the head coach. It's his call. Can't have it both ways on the aggressiveness, though – he's playing to win the games.
Kenneth Yearout from Granite City, Illinois
Question: I am back again. So, I said last time I would eat my words if Ryan won some games for us. And so I will admit, he has. But I do have a caveat to that and I want to make sure I put it out there. Though the Titans have won with him under center, they have been ugly and unflattering games. Which is fine, a win is a win right? That being said, he has won both games against teams that have either been not 100% or imploded on themselves (the Bucs this weekend pretty much killed themselves). I just want to point out that Ryan still isn't great. MM8 is the better player in my opinion and needs to be given an opportunity. RT may be more confident and quick to pass at this moment, but look what MM8 had to deal with the whole first 5 games of the season? Being sacked and unable to find open people probably had a massive affect on MM8. My point here is, lets not jump on the RT bandwagon and say he is going to save the team. Looking at some of the poor play calling in both the Bucs and Chargers games leads me to believe that some of the things are organization based not player based. I also feel that the Titans have screwed MM8 even more because of this benching, instead of actually helping him improve in a new system (again...). Now with that rant over, my questions. One: Are they going to actually look at the play calling and organizational things that seem to be hampering the team? I mean with the Chargers how they were when they played them, it should have been a blowout. And the same thing with the Bucs, when MM8 played them last it was pretty much a destruction, 42-14 and 4 touchdowns from MM8. A win may be a win, but why is it so close? Second: Are there any rumors of trading MM8 to a team that will actually give him a chance to grow in a system? Because no offense to the Titans organization (I am not there and I don't know all the details), but it seems like they are pretty much tossing him away because of a few bad games. This is what I have perceived from this situation and it kind of stinks to me. Anyway, thank you for your time as usual. I hope the Titans get this all figured out. I would hate to see MM8 go, but that to me would be a big mistake for the Titans if it happens.
Jim: Hey Kenneth. Appreciate you taking the time. Not meaning to take this out on you, but I hope we can get to a point where it doesn't feel like Marcus Mariota fans are pulling against Ryan Tannehill, or vice versa. Ryan has done what the coaches have asked him to do at this point, and the team is 2-0 in those two games and 6-of-6 in the red zone since he stepped it. Would Marcus have done the same thing? There's no way of knowing for sure, and I'm not going to waste any time dealing with the what ifs. If you're a true Titans fan, then you should jump on the Ryan Tannehill bandwagon. Because he's currently the starting quarterback for the Tennessee Titans and how he fares as the starting quarterback impacts a lot of guys around him, and the team. Now my rant is over. And I'm definitely not going to go down a road trying to explain why a game in 2015 was a blowout and a game against the same franchise in 2019 wasn't. That was several head coaches ago, and the teams were completely different. Heck, that Titans team went 3-13. The better question is probably: Why did that team end up being so bad?
Ethen Hill from Gilbert, Arizona
Question: Why is it so hard for the Titans OC to take advantage of the weapons at his disposal. NUMBER 84, 11, 10 19, 82, 81, 86, 22, & 33. I mean, SERIOUSLY!!! Stop running Henry into block walls, keep the defense spread out with 3 wr sets that will allow for more running space. Arthur Smith is so vanilla it is flat out ridiculously easy for the defense to take advantage of. Enough is enough, open it up, no more excuses, the weapons are there.
Jim: Hey Ethen. Your tone makes it sound like the Titans are coming off a loss. Not all is bad, and while some of the guys you mentioned were maybe quieter on Sunday, they still made plays to help the team win. No.11? He made the game-winning TD catch. No.10? He made some big catches for first downs. No.19? A TD catch for the second straight week. No.81? He led the team in catches and receiving yards? No.86? He was second on the team in catches and receiving yards. And while Henry had some ugly runs, he did manage to get more rushing yards than any back in the NFL (75 yards) against Tampa Bay's rushing defense. And his success opened up some of those plays in the passing game. Do things need to keep getting better? Yes. But the team has made strides on offense in recent weeks with Ryan Tannehill at the helm. Heck, the Titans had three games out of four when they managed a touchdown or less before the QB change. Ryan had five TDs in the past two games and the offense is 6-6 in the red zone.
Isaac Goins from Cleveland, Tennessee
Question: What should you guys do with the O-Line? They are playing terrible. They aren't giving Derrick Henry any gaps.
Jim: Hey Isaac, as I mentioned to Ethen, the Titans had more success running the ball vs TB compared to any other team in the NFL. Henry averaged 4.7 yards per carry, and if not for a holding penalty he would have gone over 100 yards. He lost the ball on another run when it looked like he was on the way for a much bigger gain. So some holes were opened up, and the sack rate has gone down in recent weeks as well if you haven't noticed…
Ulysses Wilson from Humboldt, Tennessee
Question: Jim, thank you for all the hard work you do on ask Jim, the OTP & others. This is my first time on here, I usually just read other people questions and comments. I'm not for anyone losing their job but I am concerned about our offensive line. We have one of the best offenses in the NFL but not being exposed properly. Even though we beat the Chargers & Bucs, Derrick Henry should be getting more than 1-2 yards per carry, I know his average is 4.7 but that's low for a running back of his caliber. I saw many plays where the line didn't get a push from nobody on the line, several he should have been through the line with a little bit of push from them instead they were pushed in the backfield. My question is do you think they (offensive line coaches) need to change their techniques, because what they now is not working very well. No doubt they are good coaches but something needs to change. Derrick Henry should have more yards & our QB should have more time to find our very good receivers. Thank You
Jim: Hi Ulysses. Thanks for your comments. Across the board everything needs to keep getting better on offense. I'm not going to look at Sunday being a failure of a day for the running game, however. Some of the runs set other things up, and again, it was the best rushing performance (75 yards, 4.7-yard average) vs. the Bucs by a running back this year. On the year, Henry is averaging 3.8 yards per carry. That's not as good as guys like Nick Chubb (5.5), Dalvin Cook (5.3) and Christian McCaffrey (5.2) but it's not terrible either. But yes, it needs to improve.
Chelsie Grazier from Charlotte, North Carolina
Question: Hi! So I work a sports bar called Clutch Kitchen and Pour House that's right behind the Panthers Stadium (literally a 2 minute walk) and I'm trying to spread the word to Titan fans about our bar since we will be playing them on November 3rd at the Panthers Stadium. We are also going to be having a Titan Up drink with two types of Jack Daniels in it.
Jim: Hi Chelsie. Thanks for the heads up. Hopefully some Titans fans will see this and head your way!
Christian Simmons from Boise, Idaho
Question: Hello Jim. I have been a Titans fan since the very beginning. I don't really have a question... more of a rant about Marcus Mariota. I just want to say that, throughout all the years of the Titans organization, there has not been a more respectable or respectful character in my opinion. I find it very refreshing to see a world class athlete with this kind of selflessness and maturity. It was very fun to watch number 8 play with all of his swag and heart! I will always remember his many fourth quarter come backs keeping us titan fans on the edge of our seats. I don't know if his time with the Titans is over (it's still early), but I think he has a bright future ahead of him regardless. I would just like to say thank you, Marcus, for being a stand-up man and inspiring all the young athletes who follow in your footsteps.
Jim: Hey Christian. Not sure I would call this a rant as much as it is a compliment to Marcus. And it's well-deserved. He's as classy a guy as I've ever been around.
Have a great week everyone!