NASHVILLE – The Titans let another winnable game slip away on Sunday, this one in overtime against the Colts.
Mishaps on special teams, five straight three-and-outs from the offense, and too many big plays allowed by the defense added up to another defeat.
The Titans are now 4-8.
Let's open up another mailbag and see how fans are taking it…
Here's the link to submit questions: CLICK HERE.
Matt Montanaro from Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Question: Hey Jim. I suppose we should be disappointed with a loss but on the flip side of the coin our draft position is improving. I think at this point, the focus should be on the draft and finding some picks that can help us turn this around. Thoughts?
Will Levis looked inconsistent - again. I suppose that it should be expected. He is a rookie learning the NFL game and he is taking snaps behind a sub-par O line. Are the Titans concerned about his progress?
Finally, special teams - WOW! That was atrocious. Not only the blocked punts but now the injury to Stonehouse - arguably the best punter in the league. I hope that he can recover from that injury. Prayers are with him.
Jim: Personally, I'll never be excited about a loss because it helps with the draft positioning. I work for an NFL team, and the goal is to win games. The Titans have lost two-thirds of their games this year, and 15 of the last 19 dating back to last year. Hard to be excited about that. Plus, there are no guarantees in the NFL Draft.
I like Levis, and he needs to work through his inconsistencies. He's one of the guys who should bring optimism to the fan base. The performance on special teams was, well, you said it. Hopefully Ryan will make a fast recovery.
Taylor Lott from Camden, New Jersey
Question: Jim - on the Kyle Phillips inactive yesterday - what a shocker. And I don't mean that sarcastically. Levis and Phillips had a good connection going the past few weeks, and I really felt a break out game was brewing. Levis looked like he sure could have used Phillips yesterday. Why in the world, with everything we know about the importance of QB - WR chemistry, would he be inactive? And don't give me the "we needed special teams help from Dolton" because clearly the special teams was atrocious anyways. This to me is more and more evidence that this coaching staff, specifically Vrabel, cannot be trusted to develop our young QB. We desperately need an offensive-minded coach.
Jim: Actually, wasn't much of a shocker to me, Taylor. With Treylon Burks returning, giving the team four WRs (Hopkins, Moore, NWI) it was either Kyle Philips or Colton Dowell for special teams help. Colton has improved to the point he's more valuable on teams, so that was the decision. I'll get more into this later with Patrick from Memphis. But don't blame Colton for the special teams mishaps – he wasn't responsible for either one of those blocked punts.
Bill Holmes from Fairport, New York
Question: The maniacs are already listing people who should be fired as if we only need to fix one problem. Instead, I'm at the point where I can't even be aggravated at two blocked punts - I find myself much more concerned about the health of Ryan Stonehouse. Nor am I angry about the missed XP as a result of his absence as the holder. Nor at our defense for a cheap holding play wiping out a sack followed by a Minshew bomb to seal the loss in OT. I can't over-react because that would mean I expected to win these games.
I'm a Titans lifer, but sometimes you have to be realistic. The sad reality is that we have a team that does play hard for its coach and even features some very talented players, but it just wasn't enough in 2023. The season was already over even before this loss, and we likely will run the table the wrong way and finish 4-13. And now Henry might have a concussion, Simmons is hurt, and Stonehouse - arguably our best weapon keeping games close - might be lost for the season. So let's get real about where we are and make sure we let these guys get healthy and not rush them back in some macho quest for glory. 2023 is a lost cause. We should be firmly focused upon next year and evaluating the roster in that light.
There is some good news, though. Levis has proven he's the real deal - smart, tough and talented. Hopkins seems happy here and is a legitimate threat on every play. Henry is still a force despite a porous OL. Our defensive front is still fearsome. Hopefully we take advantage of our 2024 draft position and nab a couple of impact players who can help us get back to winning ways. As for the last five games? I will root for our guys to get better and stay healthy and for Levis to get valuable experience.
I guess there is no question in there, Jim. The cold, hard truth will do that sometimes.
Jim: Thanks for taking the time, Bill. But you should expect to win these games. That's the problem with this season. This was not supposed to be a "rebuilding year." The Titans are losing games they used to always win in the past. They had a great chance to beat the Colts on Sunday, just like they had a great chance to beat the Saints in Week One, the Colts in Week 5, the Steelers in Week 9. I'm not listing the Ravens, Buccaneers or Jaguars game, and I'm sure not listing the Browns game. But it's been a disappointing season, no other way to look at it. I understand the frustration.
Bob Luciano from Easton, Pennsylvania
Question: I am frustrated, just like every Titan fan. I am not frustrated in the players. They are playing hard. Will Levis is learning and he will benefit greatly next year from the experience he is getting this season. My frustration is with the coaching staff. Coach Vrabel knows it. Every week he says,"We have got to coach better." Every week he is correct.
Examine special teams. The first punt block was a result of the outside blocker not blocking the innermost punt rusher. This is basic football. The second punt block was a brilliant design by the Indy coaches. They knew the Titans would instruct their punt protectors to make sure the innermost outside punt rusher was block. Two Titans blocked the innermost punt rusher. This allowed one of the Indy players to sneak in from outside where he lined up to block the gunner. That is great coaching. The Titans blow the extra point and of course everybody wants to blame Tannehill. After the blown extra point Tannehill and the snapper and Nick Folk worked on it on the sideline. The subsequent field goal attempt was perfect. They should have worked on the snap and hold before missing the extra point. This is poor coaching. Do not fix it when it goes wrong, make sure it is right before it goes wrong. I guess then my question is..."When are we going to get better coaches?"
Jim: I'm sure you've seen by now, Bob, that Vrabel let go of special teams coordinator Craig Aukerman and replaced him with assistant Tom Quinn.
David MacDonald from London, Ontario
Question: Not so much a question but a statement. I have been a fan since I was young and I am 59 ( was an Oilers fan). I have watched the Titans every game and watched them good and bad. This year has been tough, but Sunday they played with heart. Yes we lost, but at least today when I watched I saw a team working hard, a few bad plays and injuries but man what a game. I know we lost but we were in this game and I loved it. The players showed grit and I thank them. Hard to lose but thanks for the effort.
Jim: Thanks for taking the time, David.
Bobby Dreke from Largo, Maryland
Question: Hey Jim, well (Sunday) the old saying was true ...Bad Teams find ways to lose. I would say this loss was on special teams but that was mostly fluke. We have the dolphins on MNF this week. I think this might actually be the week that a coach (should be Shane Bowen) gets embarrassed and finally fired. The fight I saw in the team after losing key players during this game shows that they want to fight for Vrabel. The conservative defensive calls have been terrible. They keep blaming Fulton and benching him but anyone can see they are not being put in positions to succeed. Redzone defense being stingy is cool but if you keep having offenses knocking at your door eventually they will come in. Our defensive game plan never takes away the opposing team's best threat. Actually that teams best threat thrives against our defense when Bowen is the head. The record is a clear indication. I know Vrabes likes "his" guys but this season should show him that something needs to change. We are being bullied when we used to be the bullies. Thanks Jim.
Jim: I can't dispute the fact the Colts have beaten the Titans at their own game twice this season.
Kaden Welch from Ringgold, Georgia
Question: Hey Jim. Not too many things worse than dropping 2 games to the Colts in a season, except for maybe losing your star running back, defensive lineman, and punter for the foreseeable future. That being said, I'm proud of the way the Titans came out and played ball. You could see from the start the Titans were ready to play and did everything they could to win that game. We all know this team isn't perfect, but one thing that can't be questioned is this team's toughness. We can complain all day about execution, coaching, etc., but we need to commend this team for their resilience and willingness to battle.
I also think the Titans may have found their QB of the future. Not going to crown him yet, but that dude embodies toughness and some of the plays he made and the hits he was willing to take proved to us all this is the type of guy we need at QB. Also, kickers don't usually make it into a toughness conversation, but shout out to Nick Folk for his ability to step in and drill some solid punts. The missed PAT stings, but he backed it up later on and at least gave the team a chance to win.
This is not a playoff season unfortunately, but we still have a lot to cheer for from a fans perspective. We have a team that is going to fight and we most likely will have a top 10 pick in next years draft. All we can hope for is Marvin Harrison Jr. drops into the Titans lap and we can get this team back on track. We have a lot of position groups that need help no doubt, but having two star wideouts alleviates quite a bit of issues for an offense that has lost many games over the past two seasons due to lack of scoring. Titan Up!
Jim: I'm with you, Kaden. The team did play hard, and it showed toughness. So did the Colts. And, in the NFL, effort and toughness should be a given every week in my opinion. The Titans need to get back to finding a way to win these games instead of losing them.
Jon Cowart from Seattle, Washington
Question: Jim - the Titans used to be a second half team back when we had Arthur Smith, Dean Pees, and Jim Schwartz. Now that it's just Vrabel and his buddies, we get outcoached every single second half. Shane Steichen ate our lunch in the 2nd half. What are the chances Vrabel recognizes that he can't win with Shane Bowen and Tim Kelly and Craig Aukerman, and hires actual coordinators next year? Would Amy give him the same ultimatum that she gave Mularkey?
Jim: I can't speak for the owner, Jon, but Mike Vrabel decided to make a coaching change on special teams on Monday …
Paul Markle from Bowling Green, Kentucky
Question: Hey Jim. My question is how the heck was that first blocked punt not a penalty on the Colts? And the DPI on Hopkins in the 1st half no call? I know you don't have an answer & I'm proud of how hard the Titans played save idiotic penalties (eg. taunting,). Levis is our future QB and potentially a top 10 QB. Thanks Jim... and on a side note the CFP committee made that process a JOKE leaving Fla. St. out. Since when does a team's starting QB's health affect the playoffs?
Jim: We disagree on a few things in here, Paul. 😊
It was not roughing the punter. I do think that was a DPI on Hopkins. I also think Alabama was the right pick for the playoffs, although I do feel bad for the FSU kids who did everything they could possibly do. The playoff system should have been expanded years ago.
Joni Daniels from Antioch, Tennessee
Question: Even though the game on Sunday ended with a loss, I couldn't be more proud of this team. They showed grit, toughness and a willingness to keep fighting all the way to the end of the game. I hope every Titans fan saw what I saw and will continue to support them regardless of the season's outcome.
Jim: Good to hear from you again, Joni.
Patrick Dee from Memphis, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim. Sunday was a tough one. I'm confused on the usage and healthy scratch of Kyle Phillips. He is able to get the most yards of separations out of our receiver room and nearly every catch with the exception of a few has been for a first down. What is the reason for not using him? Thought Levis has looked promising and he seems like a natural leader. Hope we can get him some protection and some more weapons in the offseason. Have a great week Jim... thanks for all your insight!
Jim: Hey Patrick. Corresponded with Taylor earlier on Philips. And, don't get me wrong – I think Kyle Philips could help this team at receiver, and I know it's a head-scratcher for some why he could be so active some weeks, and then suddenly not even dressing out. I was just explaining why the decision was made.
Jon Neeley from Huntsville, Alabama
Question: Hope your week is better than the weekend with another loss. I'm disappointed with the execution on special teams and failure to protect our pro bowl punter. This is a failure on both the coaching staff and player execution, which Colts head coach said they saw film that showed them they could block the punt. Any chance we secure a punter off waivers? Phillips not playing? That is absolutely a failure to take away someone who has been reliable for Levis. Hope you have a great week!
Jim: The biggest surprise of this mailbag so far is how many fans Kyle Philips has out there. A month or so ago, I heard from a lot of folks who wanted him to be cut. Have a great week.
Julie Wilson from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim. I am not going to kick our team down while they are on the ground already after the injuries from this recent game. More or less the special teams injury of our kicker. My question to you: Do you think the REF's should have called a roughing the kicker? Even though leg was up when he was hit. I find this to be very dangerous, however, just like quaterbacks, kickers are really exposed. What are your thoughts?
Jim: Hi Julie. No, I don't think that was roughing the punter. The Colts rusher got there so fast, in fact, that Stonehouse was considered a runner on the second one, and that was technically considered a fumble and not a "blocked punt." The Titans – not the refs – need to keep that from happening.
Lucas Kelley from Federal Way, Washington
Question: Hey Jim. First off, thank you for all the insight and information you provide on the team. As a Titan fan located across the country, you help me stay in touch with the team and answer questions with a journalistic flair I find extremely entertaining, and provide some much needed comic relief with an understandably frustrated fan base. My question today unfortunately has a more serious tone, as I am curious about the Ryan Stonehouse debacle. I am hoping you can shed some light as to why neither of the blocked punts were roughing the kicker penalties? For all the league is trying to do to protect players and prevent injuries, it seems contradictory to allow a punter to be brutalized the way Stonehouse was. Obviously they did not call it on either play, and I'm sure they had a reason why, just hoping you could help me understand the no call. Thank you again for all you do.
Jim: Thanks for reading, Lucas. Stonehouse got wiped out on those plays for sure. But if the punt is even tipped, there is no roughing call.
Martin Benitez from Montevideo, Uruguay
Question: Hi, Jim how are you?
Another loss, this time we post the game, and we post Henry, Simmons and Stonehouse. We fall to 4-8 and I don't remember exactly (I'm too disappointed so I don't even make the effort to google it) but I think we are one of the bottom 3 teams in the entire league. 6 sacks?? It's obvious that we need to improve defense, but the on line maybe needs a mayor rebuild, i dont know of you want to respond with names but, who are yours "keepers" on defense and on offense for the next season?
Y como decimos aquí en Uruguay: vamo arriba nosotro che!!! A poner huevooo!!!
Jim: Ask me the "keepers" question after the season, Martin.
Vamo arriba nosotro che!!! A poner huevooo!!!
Steve Boers from Hamilton, Ontario
Question: Hey Jim. We came out of the locker room looking like different team at kickoff. Then reverted back to looking a lot more like a 4-8 team coming out of half time. So disappointing to take another loss against division rivals. End rant
1. Sunday morning before kickoff I was thinking, with Haskins and Chestnut on IR, who is the emergency RB? I thought I'd get my answer seeing Henry off for evaluation. But I THINK I saw that Spears played every offensive snap. (Must be exhausting)
2. Is the playing surface a hybrid turf? I've noticed the sand coming up during plays as opposed to the black rubber pellets.
Jim: Hey Steve.
1-The Titans have just two RBs on the active roster. Jonathan Ward is on the practice squad, so he could be in the mix this week, depending on Derrick. But it sounds like Derrick is going to be good to go.
2-It's a monofilament, Matrix Helix Turf with organic infill of cork and coconut.
Anthony Cappadona from Brentwood, Tennessee
Question: Not to sound like Rosanna Rosannadanna: It always something.
Jim: Oh man, Rosanna Rosannadanna. Talk about a blast from the past!
Evan Tatum from Portland, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim. Another week goes by and so does another game where the Titans just let it slip by. They fought hard in this game through alot of adversity. If there's one thing about this team that I'll never question, it's their grittiness. And I hate being that fan, but I'm already looking towards the offseason. If the Titans were gonna have any hope at making a late season push, they had to win yesterday. Just a tough way to lose yesterday. I guess my question for today is, do we know the severity of Ryan Stonehouse's injury? Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Jim: I saw Ryan leave the stadium on crutches. He's having surgery, and will be out for the rest of the season.
Terry Anderson from Edmonton, Kentucky
Question: Hello Jim, hope all is well. How hot is the coach's seat? I don't think personally it should be very hot. Way down in the talent area especially on the O line. Any chance in your opinion that you trade away your head coach if New England calls? It's crazy to think that the coach of year 2 years ago is garbage now. Keep Vrabel
Jim: I don't go around feeling the seat of Vrabel's chair, Terry. I think that would be weird.
Paula Arnett from Dallas, Texas
Question: Sunday last was rough- for club and fans alike. I am a big fan of Coach Vrabel- he is the one to get this team moving, again, in the right direction. However, yesterday was atypical of an organization- any organization, football, business- needing a redirection.
With a rookie qb, offense played a solid game. Defense, solid in red zone, horrible at key moments at end of game, but we had the lead in spite of all the other drama and should have won the game. It is like whack a mole- get this running, another area jumps up and bites us in the behind. Special teams were horrible- and it is unusual to have one punt blocked, but come on, two in a row- when was the last time that ever happened not just in the NFL but anywhere you see organized football. We couldn't adjust from one punt to the next one? We got our punter injured, and he is a good one, gave up 10 points on the SAME mistake.
That is coaching folks. Our db's, still being an issue, that is also coaching, or what I will point out is the main issue. Accountability.
All the press conferences in the world cannot hide the obvious- some coach, some player, needs to be accountable on this club and I do not want it to be Vrabel. I find it amazing to even have to say this, but this is so out of character for this organization as he has built it. If someone is not improving, and I could but will not name names, then get someone who will. Trying is great, but trying that does not improve execution is frankly insanity through steps.
I think Mr. Vrabel, at season's end, needs someone outside this group to be OC. Obviously, Jim Schwartz had a big influence on our defense that we do not have now. And though I appreciate building your staff from within, reality is folks, we are not winning football games that we should so thinking maybe we need to get a little outside the current box here. We are grooming a rookie qb, could we block for punts, cover at crunch time on obvious have to defend situations and possibly block on our oline while we are doing so? Am I off target here? thanks PA
Jim: Thanks for taking the time to share your opinion, Paula. I know I've gotten countless emails with a similar thoughts during the course of this season. Some tough decisions are going to have to be made at some point, I know that. Heck, they're already being made. No one is happy with how things have been of late.
Chuck Rhoten from Kingsport, Tennessee
Question: Titans played hard, but at the end just gave up too many big plays. There is no reason each week we keep letting receivers get behind us wide open. I have also never seen any team on 3rd down commit so many penalties to keep drives alive. I thought for the most part Kelly called a good game, he got predictable in the 3rd and some of the 4th. The defense played hard, but we need better coaching on the backend and a DC that can adapt and change things up during the game. Levis is going to have to learn to set his feet, stop throwing the ball sidearm and keep the ball inbounds to give his receivers a chance. We might win one or two more games this year but hopefully we will make some changes and have a good draft and sign some good free agents.
Jim: Good to hear from you, Chuck.
Fred Trotman from Saint Louis, Missouri
Question: No question here. I'm not shocked by the loss but I'm still disappointed. The only consistent thing we have going this year is that we lose to good teams, allow our QB to be pressured consistently, have poor coaching, and our DBs get beat deep. It's been tough supporting this team all season and I haven't forgotten the 2 and 3 win teams. I hope we make some positive changes this offseason. Vrabel waited too long to play Duncan who gives me hope. I hope we bring Henry back next season although I'm sure we won't. They'll use his numbers which were hindered by play calling, lack of blocking, and being taken out on key downs. I just hope we can get to 6 wins at least. Hopefully some changes are made in the front office and we can get back to winning. Final note Tannehill definitely made sure he found a way to sabotage us on that missed XP. Joking but kinda serious
Jim: Definitely a disappointing loss, Fred. Those are tougher to take that the 27-3 blowout in Cleveland, when the Titans never had much of a chance.
Paul Panarelli from Boylston, Massachusetts
Question: Hello Jim. Long time reader and Oilers/Titans Fan.
Hope the King, Big Jeff and Ryan are ok.
My question: Heading to Miami for this coming Monday Night Game and was wondering like in the past if there is a Titans tailgate or bar to hangout in? Thanks Titan Up.
Jim: Appreciate it, Paul.
Haven't heard yet, but stay tuned.
And, make sure you follow me on Twitter -- @jwyattsports. I'll tweet or RT if I see anything.
Have a safe trip.
Have a great week everyone!