NASHVILLE – It's been a whirlwind since season's end.
The day after locker room clean-out day I headed to the Pro Bowl for a week to keep up with the four Titans in Orlando, and then it was off to Miami for Super Bowl LIV, where it was a flurry of activity.
Now I'm back in town and banging out this mailbag.
Terry Anderson from Glasgow, Kentucky
Question: Hello Jim. Good season for the Titans. Made a run in the playoffs. Played meaningful football January. Hopefully the guys don't get to down and can build on this next year. Titan up! I have a couple questions. What's the offseason schedule as far as signing players, when can they sign? Where are they focusing with our free agents? Be hard to keep them all. Again, proud fan here. We've hit a homer with our coach. Vrabel is the man!
Jim: Hey Terry. Well, players can be signed at any time up leading up to the start the start of free agency.
A look at some key dates here:
Feb. 24-March 2: NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
Feb. 25: First day clubs can designate franchise or transition players.
March 10: Prior to 3 p.m., deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
March 16-18: Clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2019 player contracts at 3 p.m., Nashville time.
March 18: The 2020 league year and free agency period begin at 3 p.m., Nashville time.
Fermin Reyes from Carson California
Question: Who do you think was more productive in first years: Derrick Henry or Eddie George? And will Derrick surpass Eddie in yardage if he stays with the team? I have been Titans fan when Steve McNair was drafted first by Oilers. I was in the service and my bunkie was Steve cousin when he was at Alcorn St.
Jim: Hey Fermin. Appreciate you taking the time.
Let's look at the stats:
Derrick in his first four NFL seasons: 804 carries, 3,833 rushing yards, 38 touchdowns.
Eddie in his first four NFL seasons: 1,360 carries, 6,725 yards, 28 touchdowns.
So other than the touchdowns, Eddie's start is much better. Eddie finished his Oilers/Titans career with 10,009 rushing yards, so Derrick has some work to do.
Jimmy Dee from Battle Ground, Washington
Question: Dear Jim. I'm starting to wonder if maybe Jurrell Casey isn't as slowed down (due to age) as I've been thinking he is. Maybe what's actually going on is Jeffery Simmons was still slowed down during the 2019 because of his ACL injury. Maybe Jefferey Simmons will come back and be much better in 2020 regular season than he was in 2019. And maybe then he'll give Jurrell Casey a lot of help and Jurrell Casey will seem a lot better. I'm really not sure. In any case, after watching the Chiefs in the Superbowl I'm 100% certain that the way to beat the Chiefs is not by drafting more offense. The Titans need to improve their defense substantially if you want to beat the Chiefs and Mahomes. The Titans defensive line did not put enough pressure on the Chiefs. If Jurrell Casey improves in 2020 with the help of a 100% healthy Jeffery Simmons then maybe the line will be better. But Jurrell Casey is still costing too much money/cap space. The Titans might be able to get the Chief's Chris Jones for that same $13 million and I like Chris Jones a lot. In any case, the Titans need more pass-rush from their defensive line and Casey is paid too much. The Titans need an excellent pass rusher opposite Harold Landry as well. And Logan Ryan was excellent in the first half of 2019 regular season but his play dropped after the first half of the season. The Titans are going to need 3 badass cornerbacks to take on the Chiefs. Jackson is a badass and I think Malcolm Butler might be too, but I'm not getting the same feel from Logan Ryan. Mahomes is no lightweight to be beaten by a so-so defensive backfield. If you cut Logan Ryan, Delanie Walker, Cameron Wake, Dion Lewis, and some others you could find the cap space to bring in one new stud from FA and then draft 2 studs with your 1st and 2nd round picks. If Jurrell Casey can't/won't take a paycut that same $13 million might get you Chris Jones from Kansas City. If you at least try to get Chris Jones that will drive his value up and force the Chiefs to spend more to keep him. The more you make the Chiefs spend the less money they have to buy free agents that would improve their team even more than they already are. You don't want them to get better than they already are. If you offer Chris Jones $13 million then the Chiefs would have to pay them more than that because $13 million from the Titans is better than $13 million from the Chiefs since Tennessee has no state income tax. You need another top flight DL unless both Jurrell Casey and Jeffrey Simmons really step up in a big way. I would also like to see Daquan Jones start getting some pressure on QBs. You also need a top EDGE and another excellent cornerback. You need players who can better pressure Mahomes and better prevent Mahomes from completing passes. You need elite improvements on the DL, EDGE, and cornerback. You also need a RB2 and a better field goal kicker.
Jim: A lot to take in here Jimmy. Just some quick takes: You're undervaluing Jurrell Casey way too much, and you're not giving Logan Ryan enough credit. Let's not forget the Titans beat the Chiefs in November, so it's not like Kansas City was invincible. The Titans were running on fumes by the time they went to Arrowhead Stadium in the AFC title game, and they didn't play well enough to win. Had they found a way to win it, I believe the Titans would be celebrating a Super Bowl victory right now. The defense needs more of a pass rush, with more help at edge – we agree there.
Michael Newsome from Drexel, North Carolina
Question: Hey Jim. I was just wondering how disheartened and discouraged do you think Titans fans should be that we haven't even heard a rumor that the Titans may have possibly attempted to gain any ground or have been trying to make any effort to re-sign guys like Henry, Tannehill, and Conklin? Combine with public interviews with Henry and Tannehill answering questions about rather they would be back with "I don't know, hopefully" and "Who knows? We will see, I don't know" ... it just feels like there is limited or no conversation happening between sides.
Jim: Hey Michael. Disheartened because I'm not hearing any rumors? Um, no. Already tired of some of the ones making the rounds in Nashville so far this offseason. As for no news coming out about progress on contracts, well, someone has to dig them up and that's not in my job description any more.
Jefferey Fradsham from Crewe, Virginia
Question: Hey there Jim, great energy covering the Titans this year. get a lot of rest this off season, I think the coming year will be busier for you, and more rewarding for all of titandom. thanks.
Jim: Hey Jefferey. Appreciate it. But there's never time to rest covering the NFL. Maybe in early July.
Chris P from Old Hickory, Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim. I have 2 questions:
1. I watched Tannehill complete passes all season long. In the game versus Kansas City, since the Chiefs decided to stop our run, why couldn't we complete more passes? One would think that if the Chiefs dedicated more defenders to stop our run game, that our receivers would have an easier time getting open and catching passes - in your opinion, why didn't this happen?
2. If we end up playing the Chiefs again next year in the playoffs, what changes do you think the Titans would need to make in order to actually beat them?
Great 2nd half of the season this year, and I had a blast watching our guys play so well. Thank you for your time.
Jim: Hey Chris P. Two quick answers:
1- Chiefs did a good job on defense, and the Titans didn't execute well enough.
2- Do the same thing the Titans did when they beat the Chiefs in November. Hey, the Chiefs are good. But I'm not making them out to be the '85 Bears. The 49ers let them off the hook on Sunday, and the Titans, Texans and Colts of the AFC South all beat them in 2019. The Titans just need to play better against them next time, but it remains to be seen what both teams will look like in 2020. A lot of work to do in Tennessee this offseason.
DJ Hicks from Statesboro, Georgia
Question: It's sad to see the season over so soon! I guess it's time for me to focus on the off season. I have two quick questions for you. Do you think Walker will be back next year or will he retire or move on? He has been my favorite Titan for many years now and I would hate to see him go. Second what are the chances of being able to keep Tannehill, Henry, Conklin and Ryan with our current salary cap situation? Should we expect to loose one or more of these important pieces of the puzzle?
Jim: Hey DJ. Will be interested to see what happens with Delanie, who said he wants to play. Delanie said at season's end he was having a follow-up procedure, so we'll have to see how he recovers and how the front office values him moving forward.
As for re-signing free agents like Henry, Tannehill, Conklin and Ryan, it's early in the offseason. Stay tuned.
Have a great week everyone!