NASHVILLE – This much we know after Sunday: The Titans aren't going undefeated.
But everything else is still on the table as the Titans sit atop the AFC South with a 5-1 mark, and a game on Sunday against the Bengals.
I think we all agree the team needs to improve, especially on defense.
We'll get into that and more in the latest edition of the Titans mailbag.
Why wait? Let's go….
Here's the link to ask questions: CLICK HERE
Steve Crosio from Brick, New Jersey
Question: Hey Jim. I saw the game especially the ending, lots of people are still blaming Stephen Gostkowski for missing the field goal but Vrabel had 1 timeout left and didn't use it. Did you think Gostkowski was to blame or was Vrabel in a rush?
Jim: The kicker has to make the kick. It's what he's paid to do. But the Titans didn't lose the game simply because of a missed field at the end of regulation. Plenty of others contributed to the loss as well.
Mark Clarke from Coleraine Causeway Coast and Glens (Ireland)
Question: Great to see the team performing so well this season but third down defense is really frustrating me this season. Do you think big Mike will address it in the next few weeks HOPE SO.
Jim: Hi Mark. Good to hear from you. I know he's working on it, and I know it has to be killing him. As fans, it's maddening to see teams convert again and again and again on third down. Just imagine how he feels, a defensive-minded coach who is as competitive and as much of a hard-core football guy as I've ever been around. I can guarantee you he's trying to get things figured out, from a scheme standpoint to a coaching standpoint to a personnel standpoint. Other than his family, this football team is his life and he's not about being bad at anything. And right now, the Titans are awful on third down defense.
Christopher Harris from College Station, Texas
Question: Howdy Jim. I hope all is well, and you and your family are safe and healthy as we head into the Holiday season. Much Love for My Titans!! We all have room for improvement. I believe in Vrabel and Robinson, but will they make the necessary adjustments? Three questions. Who sends defensives plays into the game? What is your opinion on how not a having a designated defensive coordinator is influencing or impacting our defense? Did Stephen Gostkowski have a better camp performance than Greg Joseph? Thank you.
Jim: Hi Christopher. Appreciate it.
- Outside linebacker coach Shane Bowen is calling the defensive plays, but Vrabel is heavily involved in the plan.
- I'm not going to blame everything on DC Dean Pees being gone because players still have to make plays. I do agree things need to get fixed, and it's a problem someone has to solve.
- Gostkowski wasn't in camp. He was signed after camp, close to the start of the season.
Angela Lay from Indianapolis, Indiana
Question: This isn't a question, but a statement. My mother Rosie passed away on October 19, 2020. She was a huge Titans fan. She couldn't get any Titans schedules in her state of Kentucky, so she reached out to the Titans marketing department and they sent her a care package with schedules, stickers and such. She received it a week before her passing and it just made her day. She was cremated per her wishes in her Titans jersey, Titans shorts and her Titans blanket. Even in death she was a huge fan. So thank you to the staff for making her smile and the team for giving her excitement on game days. The last game she was able to watch the Titans won and she called me after games just to let me know. Again, thank you. I just wanted to share.
Jim: Hi Angela. I'm sorry for your loss. And thanks for sharing this story about your dear mother.
Eddie Sibley from Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
Question: Not a question but wanted to let the team know that this UK fan is still a proud Titan. Plenty to take from the loss to the Steelers and against the Bengals next week I'm sure we'll be back with a win. Keep playing Titan football. #TitanUp
Jim: Appreciate you taking the time, Eddie.
David Copperfield from Atlanta, Georgia
Question: Hi Jim, since we are thin at RB do you see us looking to add a veteran RB like Marshawn Lynch?
Also is there a chance we wear our throwback Oilers uniforms in 2021 or 2022?
Jim: Hi David. Love your magic tricks, and it's great to see you suddenly appear in here. The answers:
- No on Marshawn Lynch.
- Not unless the NFL changes its rule on teams being allowed to wear just one helmet. The Oilers throwback unis wouldn't look the same with blue helmets.
Robert Starkey from Corpus Christi, Texas
Question: The D … needs to play (with energy) every, snap and quarter. We could have and should have won this game but I hope it leaves a bad taste in our defense and whole teams mouth!!!!! Because we are the best team in the AFC and we gave this game away to Pittsburgh, period end of story!!!
TITANS, keep doing what you're doing and Malcom Butler, Jayon, and Evens continue to work on that defense cause y'all have greatness in you because y'all showed it the second half of this game!!!!
I know your upset because I wasn't even talking laying and I'm upset but I saw the defense when the "Freak" was with us so build on that and move on because we saw today no team is going to shut down our offense!!!
Gostkowski, don't get down on yourself because you are the best kicker in the game!!! Don't ever think otherwise and doubt yourself because your coach and tam still believe in you!! It's one game and as a kicker it sucks i k ow because I and my brothers were in HS and you will get hung with this loss. Just regroup and work yourself back into the game after your surgery.
Your, My, our Titans are still in position for home field in game in playoffs!!! We are bringing the Ship home this year gentleman!!! That's happening!!!
Jim: Oh man, Robert. I like the enthusiasm!
Ken Wiser from Miami, Florida
Question: COMPLETELY OUTCLASSED........ Never win a championship with this pathetic defense. Hmmmmm I guess letting Casey and others go has affected this group. Clowney is invisible (so glad we payed him) and Beasley is an absolute joke. This is worse defense in football..... AND WE HAVE A DEFENSIVE COACH...hahahahahaha
Jim: Not sure I'd call losing by three – and missing a field goal that would have sent the game to OT – "completely outclassed" but I do agree the defense needs to improve.
Jason Rodehaver from Greenfield, Tennessee
Question: Longtime Titans fan, first time to ask a question. The Titans third down defensive problems have been highly publicized, but what do you think is the root of the problem? Is it scheme? Is it a mental block? That is really the only complaint I have with the team. They have found ways to overcome it, but if they fix it maybe they won't always have to come from behind. Really proud of where we are right now, I don't think many predicted this. GO TITANS!!!
Jim: Hey Jason. It's been rough, no doubt. The Steelers converted 13-of-18 (72.2 percent) on Sunday, and opponents are now converting 61 percent of the time.
I'm gong to let safety Kevin Byard answer this one. He was asked this question after the game, and he gave this response:
"It starts everywhere, honestly. It starts with communication, it starts with the coverage, the rush. Everything has to be coordinated, because I don't think that we're really – we're not as detailed as we need to be, whether it's third-and-short, third-and-medium, or third-and-long, we're giving up all the varieties. So, we have to be better and we have to go watch this film and continue to correct those things. It comes down to pride, honestly, I think it comes down to pride and taking pride that we have to be better on third down."
Thomas Hibpshman from Soldotna, Alaska
Question: Hey Jim, well our defensive problems finally have haunted us. While watching the first half against the Steelers, it seemed to me like no one on defense knew how to tackle. You can't expect to tackle someone while standing straight up, and the angle of pursuit wasn't very good either. As someone who played in high school but not college do they not teach the principle of breaking down in the NFL? Is this the from not having the proper coaching staff? There were plenty of times during the first half where if our defense would have tackled the ball carrier, I do believe that the outcome of the game would have been different. The Steelers are a good team, and I like the way Coach Vrabel and staff have brought us back from the ashes. But unless we fix the problems on defense we're not going to be able to be as successful as we are capable of.
Jim: Hey Thomas. This is kind of what I touched on with Christopher. Tackling is another area that has to improve. Coaches do teach technique in the NFL, and the team has a lot of drills it works on in practice. But you can only have so much contact in practices during the week. And keep in mind the team practiced in pads last Thursday for probably the first time in a month because of the crazy schedule impacted by COVID-19. It's not an excuse, this is just background to explain why it's maybe been a little sloppy.
Jonathan Donahey from Sanford, Florida
Question: Hey Jim, long time reader firs time asking a question. I have been a fan since I was 9 years old. I am now 30. Defense has always been a staple of this team. You can make the argument that this year we have a better defense on paper than we did the previous two years. Yet we are under preforming....badly. We finally have an offense that can compete with the best in the league but now our defense cannot keep up. Can you imagine if we had this years offense and last years defense.....BOOM superbowl. I am not going to put this on the players, our D has been bad all year. This falls on the coaching staff and not hiring an accomplished Defensive coordinator. How does this team turn the corner on defense? Obviously its too late now we gotta ride with Shane Bowen and Mike Vrabels calling plays. Do you see any turn around here? Also no covid/adoree excuses, we have a good defense and Pees did well with less..... what is going on????
Jim: Hey Jonathan. The defensive woes are definitely a hot topic in here, and I get it. The team isn't performing well. I can't sit here and tell you exactly what the problem is. Mike Vrabel and Shane Bowen and the coaches know a hell of a lot more than I do. How does the team turn the corner? I think it's a combination of a lot of things. Getting Adoree' Jackson back will help, but it's not going to solve everything. I'm just going to steal a line from Vrabel: Guys have to play better, and coaches have to coach better. I do think things will improve. I'm not going to sit here and make excuses, but I can't help but wonder how not having minicamps and OTAs and an offseason program like years past has impacted things, especially with so many new pieces.
Sandra James from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: What is the meaning of the red check mark on players jerseys?
Jim: Hi Sandra. It's the Nike logo.
Randy Phillips from Mount Vernon, Illinois
Question: I would like to make a few comments. First, at this point in the season last year the Titans were 2-4 so a 5-1 record at this point is very exciting. Second, as a Titan's fan since 1999 I believe this year's team showed what they are made of yesterday. In years past I believe the 20 point lead at the half would have ballooned to 30-35 points by the game's end. Finally to my question. With the Texans sitting at 1-6 is there any chance J Rob makes a phone call and asks about the availability of #99 (I know it is a division opponent, but I would a least make the call)?
Jim: Hi Randy. Appreciate the comments. Can't see the whole 99 (J.J. Watt) thing happening. Of course I'd be crazy to say it's not worth making a phone call, but just being realistic here. You really think the Texans would trade Watt to a team in the division? …
J.J. from Houston, Texas
Question: Thanks for all you do in keeping us Titans fans informed all around the globe! My question is if the Titans made a trade for a player. Not putting any names out there. Because we all know how Trader Jon works. Do the Titans absorb all of the player salary or is the salary prorated for the remainder of the season or is the contract reworked? Just wondering from a salary cap standpoint. Thanks for all you do. Go Titans!
Jim: J.J., is this really you?
The answer is the new team has the option of renegotiating a deal. If not, the new team acquires a player's remaining contract, but does not have any liability for bonuses previously paid to the player ….
(I promise this email came in the mailbag, just initials, no last name, from Houston).
Henry Martin from Jacksonville, Florida
Question: Hello from Jacksonville, FL! Just wanted say that the Steelers held us in check in the 1st half. I was really impressed how we fought back in the 2nd. The defense made stops and plays while our offense got it going like they have been all year. Always hate to see games end like this, "heartbreaking" but there is "NO" need to panic plenty of games left to play. Two things: ADOREE'!!!!!!!!!! Lastly, is Jeffrey Simmons a gift from GOD? I mean, he is a BEAST!!! Every time he gets a hand on the ball really good things happen for us. As always, love reading your post and keep us informed. #GOTITANS #TITANUP
Jim: Good to hear from you, Henry.
Norman Dickens from Mountain City, Tennessee
Question: I have watched every game since Titans game to TN, never been to game in person. I'm proud to be Titan this team is one of the best Teams we have had in years yes they lost to the Steelers but they lost as a Team. Hope you can tell them to take this loss and throw it out and get ready for next game, and don't listen to outside noise cause that's all it is.
Question i have is do you think we will get Jackson back this week? And could we see Hooker more he looked good out there today. Thanks. Titan-UP
Jim: Hey Norman. Adoree' is getting close to returning. I thought he might be available for Steelers, but the coaching and training staffs erred on the side of caution. And I do think Amani Hooker has made improvement from last year.
Reuben Alvear from San Francisco, California
Question: Apparently one loss is all it takes for some persons to rip the team, coaching staff and front office. I'm calling out Titan "fans" on social media that on Sunday after the game said 'The team is moving the ball in spite of Arthur Smith' and that also berated Jon Robinson for personnel moves that he has not made. Dang. You'd think the Titans are 1-5 and winless in the division, with some of the things flying around on social media.
Even with 4 preseason games it can still take about 7-10 weeks for a team to truly gel into one cohesive unit. The 2019 TEN team is an example of that. So, without this year's preseason games we may not see the guys genuinely mesh until around Wk 11. The Sunday afternoon armchair quarterbacks and Internet experts may want to remember that this is a process. Nothing happens overnight. I believe Jon Robinson and Coach Vrabel are building something good, brick-by-methodical-brick. Be patient, and have a little faith in the team.
I was disappointed in the loss, yet the Titans still did some good things. Do they need to improve in all three phases of the game? Absolutely. Yet, they've got the talent, players and coaching to do it. I am still excited for this team because although they've shown flashes and spurts of what they can be, I don't believe they've played anywhere near their best ball.
Let's ride with the guys till the end. Speed bumps and obstacles happen along the way. So, let's not be those fans that demand the owner fire the GM, make wholesale changes to the front office and coaching staff, and make endless personnel moves just because one game doesn't go our way.
Jim: You tell 'em Reuben.
Have a great week everyone!