NASHVILLE – Well, December didn't start off so well.
A slow start on Sunday vs the Browns led to a disappointing finish, and now the Titans are back in a first place tie with the Colts atop the AFC South.
With four games to go, it's go-time, starting with Sunday's game in Jacksonville.
Ready to dive into another Titans mailbag?
Let's go ...
Here's the link to ask questions: CLICK HERE
Rick Pinkerton from Terryville, Connecticut
Question: Jim, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This new year WILL be better. Just an observation on Sunday's game: The Browns wanted it more than us. It was very similar to us when we beat the Ravens. It seemed the Browns confused the coaches and the team, by not running but passing. We seemed to have no answer for it, until it was too late. I believe this is a learning tool which will help the team the rest of the year. You have to play 100% for the ENTIRE game, which I believe we will do the REST of the season.
Jim: Hey Rick. Tough to debate the want-to part early. The Browns definitely took the fight to the Titans on Sunday, and they deserved to win. Yes, it was a valiant comeback effort, but you can't spot a team a 31-point lead. The Browns went into hold-on mode on the second half. Now the Titans need to get their act together and keep from having another terrible start to a game moving forward.
Harry Prentis from Sunbury, Pennsylvania
Question: Hi Jim. I thank you for the news and information that you provide us fans outside of Nashville. I've been a fan of this franchise since 1965 and feel this is the most sustained stretch of the team being good for years. My question involves Isaiah Wilson. Are the Titans likely to keep him next year? He seems to be a train wreck and I wonder if they'll just cut their losses? Happy Holidays to you and yours!
Jim: Hey Harry. Good to hear from you. To be honest, I'm not sure what the future holds for Isaiah. I just know his past 7-8 months with the team haven't been good, from his inability to get on the field, to his mistakes off it. The Titans drafted him in the first round to be a future starter, so I'm not so sure the team would be willing to give up on that goal after just one year. But his recent one-game suspension definitely raises more questions. The hope is he gets himself together and turns into the player he was drafted to be. But he's first going to need to help himself to get there. Will that happen? Well, we'll see. Here's what Mike Vrabel said when asked about Isaiah on Monday: "We are going to continue to work and support Isaiah – that is our job. We have brought him into this family, and we have expectations for everybody that is associated with it. And we'll continue to coach him, to teach him and support him, but hold him to a standard that we hold everybody else to. … Love isn't always about hugs and kisses. It's about holding them accountable and trying to make sure they are doing things that will help him and in turn help the team. I know that (GM) Jon (Robinson) and myself and the organization is committed to trying to help Isaiah, and we'll see where he is this week after the suspension."
Joseph Arcudi from Merrimack, New Hampshire
Question: Hi Jim. I wanted to share my story with you. I know I have been tough on the boys at times -- I think most of the 40+ year fans are always a bit tougher. We have seen a lot and sometimes I just can't shake the history before I post a comment or question here. I wanted the boys to know that the three hours I spend every weekend watching the Titans (I have had Sunday Ticket for 20+ years) are sacred to me. I found out last week that my long-time job was eliminated. After a long successful run I am yet another casualty of Covid cut backs. This is a very difficult time and quite frankly I do not know what I'm gonna do. I can't sleep and I can barely eat right now. Just trying to stay strong for my family is a job in itself. With all that out of the way..... please share with the boys that the time I spend living and dying with my Titans every week always helps me escape the reality for a little while. GO TITANS...I LOVE YOU!
Jim: Hey Joseph. Sorry to hear about your news. Hang in there, keep the fighting spirit, and here's wishing you the best. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts in this forum, and the team appreciates your support.
John Paul from Bristol, Tennessee
Question: I just want to say to all the people that keep yelling same old Titans that there is nothing about this team or coaching staff that is like the same old Titans. Having been a fan since the McNair Era. I can tell you that this team doesn't ever give up. They keep fighting. Was the loss to Cleveland disappointing? Yes but the Browns beat the Colts too. At the end of the game the Titans still had a chance. What if they recovered the onside kick? What if Humphries makes that catch? We can play the what if game all day I know, but the point is that the Titans were in position to come back and win. That is not the same old Titans. The fact is every team has bad games during the season and our defense has issues but the old Titans don't make a second half push, the old Titans don't make in season trades to try address issues, the old Titans don't have their coaching staff poached for other coaching jobs (LaFleur, Coombs, probably Smith). Having said all of that I'm super concerned about our defense and especially our pending free agents. Davis looks like a keeper but it may be too expensive, same with Jonnu. Jayon will also be a free agent as will King, Clowney, and matter of fact all four Tight ends will be free agents. My question is do you think players that are free agents will be cheaper due to the decreased cap space, the pandemic, and a desire for players to get some security financially during these crazy times? Or do you think more players will opt to play on 1 year deals so they can secure a bigger payday when the cap goes up in 2022 and the pandemic is hopefully in the rearview mirror?
Jim: Hey John. I always get a lot of overreaction mentions on Twitter, and frankly, in here. One long-time fan told me it was the worst loss he'd ever seen. Give me a break. Did he close his eyes during the 59-0 loss to the Patriots, or the 55-7 defeat in Green Bay? Did the Titans lay an egg in the first half Sunday? Yes. And it ended up costing the team the game. But things have been a lot worse, and with four games left, this team still controls its own destiny. As for free agency questions, I'm not ready to go down that road yet. There's too much season left. Hit me back in the offseason.
Charles Goodman from Gallatin, Tennessee
Question: Why not trade or get something for Adoree' Jackson? He's a great player when he plays but rarely happens.
Jim: For starters, the trade deadline has passed. Even if it hadn't, which team do you think would trade for a guy who has been hurt and not played all season?
Dion Miller from Sawyer, North Dakota
Question: Hello Jim, been a diehard fan of the Oilers/Titans for over 40 years, since I saw the great Earl Campbell play and was hooked. I have watched every game this year and this one was embarrassing. I truly believe we have the worst defense in the league and am surprised we are 8-4. I really think the playoffs are in jeopardy with this style defense. My question is why doesn't Vrabel like to blitz? Our front four does not get any pressure on the QB, we haven't all year. We come out with the same vanilla defense every week with no pressure. I can count on one hand how many times we blitzed in the first half. We finally starting blitzing the previous two weeks against Baltimore and Indy (only after we gave up 14 points right away) and looked what happened. I don't blame all of it on the players, I think Vrabel is to blame for a lot of it also. We are playing a finesse style defense instead of the aggressive one we are used to seeing.
Jim: Hey Dion. I get that everyone is fair game after losses, and Vrabel isn't running from blame himself. I hear ya, and I understand your frustration. Heck, the defense has 14 sacks in 12 games this season, and that's not getting it done. I think the defense has picked its spots this season, and on Sunday, there were a lot of misses. I think we both agree if the defense plays like it did in the first half on Sunday, this season isn't going to end well.
Keith Green from Memphis, Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim. Is something going on with AJ's hands? Way too many drops this year. I need to see more consistency from him before considering him an all-pro level receiver.
Jim: A.J. has a chance to be an elite receiver. I think he'd tell you he's not there yet. He didn't have his best game on Sunday, with a pair of fumbles. He has to make some of the catches he's dropped this season. But I still think he's going to turn out to be the best receiver the Titans have ever had. Again, he's not there yet, so that's what he is striving for now.
Eli Decko from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Question: Hi Jim. I made sure to read your takeaways before writing this week. I appreciate your take and how you honestly assess the team. Our defense is just plain bad. No ifs, ands or buts about it. In all my years of being a fan of this team, 25 years mind you, I have never seen a more stacked and underperforming unit. The mindless penalties to the complete lack of coverage and concepts just blows me away. Malcolm Butler at this point in time is our best defender. That is not a slight on him at all, he is really good. Tell us why Adoree Jackson is not playing please. We need to know and have the right to know. The 3-4/multiple base is not working for this team either. We need a defensive coordinator. Vrabel is a heck of a coach and was a great defensive player, but coaching the defense is not his fortay. If Covid isn't as bad next season do you think Dean would come back and coach the defense? Clearly his health is more important than football or I think he would be out there now. Huge shout out to 84, 98, 21, 17, 11 and 58 this week though. Now on to the Jags.
Jim: Good to hear from you Eli. Defense was bad in the first half Sunday for sure, and it hasn't been good on some other Sundays as well. As for Adoree, he's hurt. Suffered a knee injury the week before the opener. Dean didn't retire because of COVID-19, and I'm not going to speculate about 2021 while the 2020 season is still going on. Hope all is well.
Pete Tsomides from Saco, Maine
Question: Any idea when Coach Vrabel will realize he needs a Defensive Coordinator? Will it take another decade of 8-8 or 9-7 finishes? The Titans are the most frustrating team in the league. In a year that the NFL feels wide open, it seems like such a waste of a season again.
Jim: Hey Pete. Just a reminder the Titans are 8-4 and currently in first place in the AFC South. I'm not taking the 'sky is falling' attitude in here. Tell Jets fans the Titans are the most frustrating team in the league, and they'll laugh in your face.
Josh H from Billings, Montana
Question: I'm sure you are getting a bunch of angry comments from people, so I just wanted to give our players and coaches a little encouragement. Let's go fellas! Get up off the ground, brush the dirt off and get back to work. Build off the positives and clean up the negatives. Finish strong and Titan up! We're rooting for ya!
Jim: Good to hear from you, Josh.
Vickie Roberts from Trenton, Kentucky
Question: Hi Jim! After Sunday's defensive disappointing (and embarrassing) performance against the Browns, isn't it time the Titans give serious consideration to hiring a Defensive Coordinator separate from the responsibilities of our Head Coach?! There appears to be a lack of discipline in play shown by our defense in allowing 3rd down conversions, missed tackles, lack of sacks on quarterbacks to name a few. Doesn't the organization deserve to have an individual whose sole role is the accountability of Defensive player's performances both good and bad?
Jim: Hi Vickie. It's December 8, and the team has four games to go. If you're holding your breath hoping the team is going to go out and hire a new defensive coordinator this season, you better let it out.
Isaac Tipton from Sumter, South Carolina
Question: Huge Titans can my whole life. Had alot of disappointments. We seem like we the team to beat then we let our cheerleaders play and blow a game. We need a DC. Coach is not doing it and I really hated it when he was crouched down shaking his head. Stand tall in your decisions. It may not have been what he wanted but it falls on him. Our defense went from top 3 last year to bottom 3 this year.....coincidence?! Again I say we need a DC. My question is when do you we get back Adoree and Fulton? And I'm saying it now.... that was our LAST loss. TITANUP!!!
Jim: Appreciate your feedback, Isaac. Adoree' Jackson and Kristian Fulton will be back if, and when, they're deemed healthy enough to play. I get the sense Fulton is getting close to returning, and I get the sense a lot of Titans fans hope Adoree' is, too.
Joe Carlone from Montreal, Canada
Question: In my opinion that play where King had Mayfield in his grasp 10 yards further back from the line and didn't smash him to the ground, and let him throw the ball away , sums up our defence.
I remember Bishop and Cortland, they use to hammer people.
Absolutely no aggressiveness, no blitzing, no pass rush what so ever.
Byard is has having a terrible season, and our dbacks get burned every play unless the ball is dropped or overthrown.
At this point, it is what it is, I understand that, but they have to do something if they want to go deep in the playoffs.
You know as well as I do, this defence, the way they are playing won't cut it .
I hear the coach after the losses, gotta coach better, gotta play better , so do it !!!
What in Your opinion can the Titans do, or even better what are you hearing they will do ?
The offence can compete with every team in the league.
But we can't win if the D let's the other team score on every possession
Jim: Desmond's got to make the sack, Joe. We agree on that.
And I know no one wants to hear it, but the Titans do need to play better. Again, Desmond has to make that sack. Adam Humphries has to make that catch. A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry can't fumble. The defenders need better play better in coverage. The pass rushers need to get sacks. And to help them get there, the coaches need to do a better job of scheming some things up. So, like Vrabel always says, the Titans need to play better, and coach better. It may be coach-speak, but it's not a lie.
Mortimer Sneed from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Question:The Browns game this last Sunday is the kind of game that identifies the fair-weather Titans fans. They will pop up angrily accusing the team of sins they never even considered making.
I believe this team has not stopped wanting to win and they can at least feel better that they made it remotely possible at the end. They need to see this as an opportunity to learn and fix things BEFORE the games get even more critical, like "one and done".
Number one thing that needs fixing, in my humble opinion, is our pass rush. We have got to do better at pressuring the quarterback, whatever new schemes or persons it may take. Mayfield could have made a sandwich back there before throwing. His jersey stayed lily-white into the third quarter.
We need to coach up Adam Humphries to return to his old form. We've missed him and we need him. The mental part of recovery is probably more important than the physical.
Borders had a bad game, but not for lack of effort. The guy has been a bright spot for us. Quessenberry had the premier pass rusher in the NFL today in front of him and stood up as well as we have any right to expect.
I have to mention the brief exchange the cameras caught between Coach Vrabel and Rashaan Evans. Coach had his hand on Rasheed's shoulder and was leaning into him talking earnestly man-to-man and you could see Rashaan was completely into it, listening to every word. I can't recall seeing a more telling moment between coach and players. Great stuff.
Let's learn from this and get to work. We're still in a good spot to go into the playoffs with more momentum than we had last year and these opportunities are rare. It's fair to guess things are going to get even wilder with the rise in Covid and the clear message that fairness is secondary to just getting the games played. We need to seize every game we can.
Jim: Good observations, Mortimer.
David Johnson from McKenzie, Tennessee
Question: Once a player goes on IR like Taylor Lewan, how much contact do they have with the team itself? Are they allowed to travel, be on the sideline? It seems like it would be really hard to lose that emotional component of your life.
Jim: Hey David. It's a tough part of it. Some of the guys who end up on Injured Reserve still hang around the team, and others do their own thing. It's different for everyone. I will say during COVID times, it makes less sense for the injured guys who are out for the season to be around on a daily basis, because of the daily COVID testing that is required. The guys who are on short term IR need to be around for rehab, so they're around on a regular basis.
Scott Saling from Bowling Green, Kentucky
Question: Good evening Jim! Not so much a question just a few thoughts. Yes I know gave up to many plays. I feel the momentum in the game changed from the first offense series, but I can not and will not blame coach Vrabel for going for it on fourth and 1!! I mean 99.9 percent of the time hand it off to 22 and he is going to get the 1 yard (I feel he made it regardless) a testament to the team for not folding after halftime. And we can all say this team is going nowhere but those are bandwagon fans not like me or more of us. I would rather get this kind of game out of the way now before January football. The defense gave up a lot of plays yes but look at a couple plays here and there if made we would have won still yet! If Hump would have caught a very catchable ball I feel that would have been 7 when all said and done. So, I will not give up on this team. We will titan up and get this cleaned up.
Jim: Thanks for weighing in, Scott.
Asa Fitzpatrick from Lutz, Florida
Question: Hey Jim.
I have a few positive takeaways from the Browns game to share because I feel like this week's mailbag is going to need some positivity.
1). Cameron Batson made two unreal, clutch catches. He is a guy that doesn't get a lot of attention, but when we have players who can come up clutch in moments where we need it most, it is going to help us.
2). Corey Davis is unreal. This also might be a negative because now we are for sure going to have to pay him or let him walk, but Davis will be a big help throughout this playoff run.
3). In seasons past, losing a game like this severely hurt our playoff chances. This season, we lose a huge game and we are still in control of our own destiny in the AFC South. That's a positive. Plus, Vrabel is the type of coach to get this team in shape after a loss like that. Maybe a loss will be good for us - preparing us for tough games in the playoffs.
All this to say, yeah, we blew it. However, we are going to make the playoffs barring a miracle. So, we will learn from it and be back. All this team needs to do is get hot at the right time. I believe. Titan Up!
Jim: Hey Asa.
1) I agree on Batson. He's been a great contributor this year.
2) Corey is earning himself a nice contract for next year. I hope it's in Tennessee.
3) The loss hurt, but not all is lost. With that said, the team can't afford to give any more away.
Doug Goldstein from Las Vegas, Nevada
Question: Jim, I'm so old I remember the good ol days when teams would win the coin toss and the norm was to receive the ball and focus on offense. Nowadays, teams want to get some kind of momentum late in the first half and receive the kickoff in the second half. I get it. What I do not get is why this Titans team who's offense has done some great things and dictated the game on the opening drive, choose to put a very bad defense on the field to start the game, and then struggle to catch up. Isn't the goal to keep the weakest link off the field as much as possible? Am I missing something? It's just something that really bothers me when the Titans defer and give up an opening drive score, and then go 3 and out after the 2nd half kickoff.
Jim: Hey Doug. I get it – I'm kind of old school in that way myself. I like getting the ball, and driving the field to score to set the tone. But, like it or not, I think coaches are always going to see the value in potentially getting back-to-back possessions in the game, at the end of the first half, and at the start of the third quarter. The Titans were bad at the start on Sunday, and they've been shut out in the first quarter of four games this season. But heading into Sunday's game, they'd outscored their opponents 72-51 in the first quarter. I see both sides of this, Doug.
Have a great week everyone!