Behind Enemy Lines

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Tuesday Mailbag: Jim Wyatt Answers Questions from Titans Fans


MOBILE, Ala. – Well, the Titans have their offensive coordinator, and I like Mike Vrabel's pick.

Arthur Smith, tight ends coach last season, was promoted on Monday. He's a good guy, and a good coach.

In time, I believe that will show as his role expands.

Now Vrabel and Co. can focus on the future, and it continues this week at the Senior Bowl, where I'm banging out this mailbag…

Connor Scully from Erie, Pennsylvania
Question: Hi, Jim! I am assuming the main topic for this mailbag will be about the new OC, so I wanted to stay with that. The immediate outcry from the twitter fanbase I have seen is that they think it is the worst hire ever, but I would disagree. I trust in this coaching staff (I believe the team does as well), so they know what they are getting out of hiring Arthur Smith to OC. Not to mention the best thing is that it'll give some familiarity to Marcus and the offense instead of bringing in a complete outside hire and having to learn from scratch. My question is how well do you know Arthur from covering the Titans, and what do you think of the hire? Thanks!

Jim: Hey Connor. I noticed some negative feedback right out of the gate, but I think that started to shift when some current and former players spoke up about Arthur. I talked to Delanie Walker, who raved about him, and Pro Bowl tackle Taylor Lewan said some nice things about Smith on Twitter himself. Quarterback Marcus Mariota spoke up in favor of Smith. Former Titans tackle Michael Roos called Smith a "Great hire." He called him "one of the smartest and hardest working coaches I've been around." My take: Arthur is a really good coach. He's smart, and he's well respected. The simple fact he's been hired/retained under four straight head coaches tells you how well he's regarded. I think his hiring is a good development for Mariota, and the offense.

Daniel Ortiz from Houston, Texas
Hi Jim. Just wanted to say I'm happy with the Titans hire for OC. I like Arthur Smith, and the job he has done with the tight ends. Despite the injuries and setbacks at tight end last year (losing Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith), I thought Arthur Smith had other guys step up. I like what I've heard about him, and the fact Mariota is familiar with him is a positive.

Jim: Hey Daniel. You make some good points, and I'm with you on this.

Tyler Sherwood from Union City, Tennessee
Hey, Mr. Wyatt! First time writing. I was curious what you thought about pulling Tony Romo from the CBS booth to be our offensive coordinator? Is that even a possibility? The man is an absolute wizard when it comes to football. I can't wait to hear his call at the Super Bowl, but after that I think he needs to be on the sideline in Nashville wearing the two-tone blue!

Jim: Hey Tyler. I probably got a half-dozen emails from fans interested in Romo as OC, and more on Twitter. A lot of fans I've found blasting the hire are upset because the team didn't hire a big name, like Romo. In recent weeks, some fans called for Scott Frost (head coach at Nebraska), Chip Kelly (head coach at UCLA), Peyton Manning (DirecTV star), and just about every hot name out there. When the eventual hire was an in-house, lesser-known guy like Smith, some folks sounded off. Romo was never going to be a candidate. Yes, he's great as an analyst. But why would he leave that job for an 80-hour a week job?

Rick Pinkerton from Terryville, Connecticut
Thanks for keeping us in the loop during the off season. First, How is Marcus doing, health wise? If Marcus has as great year in 2019 and is not yet signed to a long term contract do you think that he may go the free agent way and look for a new home. I know he loves Nashville and want to stay there, but is Jon and Amy playing with fire by waiting too long. I know about the franchise tag, but that is only good for one year, I believe. Finally, What happened to the beat writers you used to talk with in BEHIND ENEMY LINES. Thanks, keep up the good work

Jim: Hey Rick. Marcus is recovering, and doing well. He's been spotted a few times back home in Honolulu, where he attended the Polynesian Bowl. I've said before, but there's a lot TBD determined with Marcus. And because the franchise tag is available, nothing says he has to get a long-term deal next offseason. In 2019 he's going to have to take a positive step, while staying healthy. As for the beat writers for that BEHIND ENEMY LINES piece I do each week, they're all good, friends of mine. I just went a different direction for that midweek story on the opponents in 2018. I haven't decided how I'll handle it in 2019.

Dean Brown from Franklin, Tennessee
As I said here watching the NFC championship game between the Rams and the Saints, I am astonished at how much time both quarterbacks have in the pocket to pass...4-6 seconds in most cases. What is Coach Vrabel's and GM Robinson's plan to get Mariota more time to pass in the pocket? The answer has to be beefing up our offense of line. We watched Miami's Branch punk Taylor Lewan. That cannot happen any longer. We have to beef up our OL to give Mariota some time to find targets. The Titans total focus should be on this "ONE THING".

Jim: Hey Dean. For starters, I believe the plan will be to upgrade the offensive line with some new personnel.

Calvin Holloway from Hampton, Virginia
Hey Jim. Really enjoy the Q&A. My boys respectively had the 8th best defense in the league. With that being said, shouldnt we go out and find some quality pass catchers to catch up with our defense. It's no secret Mariota can play when healthy, but look who he's passing to. Outside Corey Davis we don't have much.

Jim: Appreciate it Calvin. I agree: More help is needed. Don't get me wrong, I like Taywan Taylor, Tajae Sharpe and Darius Jennings, and I thought Cam Batson showed some spunk when given chances in 2018, too. But the team needs more consistency opposite Corey. I expect the team to make additions here in the draft and free agency, and the other guys I mentioned will compete as well. I'll be keeping an eye on guys here at the Senior Bowl and throughout the offseason.

Morgan Brooks from Franklin, Tennessee
Hey Jim. So I'm gonna mix things up a bit from your normal questions and throw a bit of a fun one at you. Based on our opponents this year (Home: Jax, Ind, Hou, KC, NO, Buf, TB, LAC Away: Jax, Ind, Hou, Cle, Oak, Den, Atl, Car) what will our record be? I know it's extremely early, but it's still fun to think about? I personally have us at 10-6.

Jim: Hey Morgan. Way too early for predictions. Heck, we don't even know who is going to be on some of these teams – including the Titans – with free agency and the draft months away.

Kristian Adams from Ewa Beach, Hawaii
Hey Jim, kind of an odd question but you think someone like former Titan Charlie Whitehurst could be an OC? I remember watching the games a couple years back and the commentators were constantly talking about how he may not have been a great player but he has a great IQ and was a guy that teams would love to have in the QBs ears. Figure Byron Leftwich can get a job as OC maybe he could too. Thoughts?

Jim: Never thought I'd get a "Charlie Whitehurst for OC" question ...

Jose Medellin from Lubbock, Texas
As the season has come to an end, who on the roster do you think will be kept by the Titans? I think a lot of the FA we signed this year helped a lot. Especially on defense. If possible I'd like for the Titans to keep Kenny Vaccaro.

Jim: There's a way, Jose. But a lot needs to be sorted out with some guys. Some of the unrestricted free agents won't be back. The safety decision will be an interesting one. I thought Vaccaro played extremely well, but I like Johnathan Cyprien as well. I doubt the team can have both of them on the roster in 2019, so something has to give. Stay tuned…

David Tonner from Clarksville, Tennessee
This is not a question and I know you are not part of the league management, but you do talk to the owner, GM, and Coach. Like almost everyone I was outraged at the no call in the Saints game. A suggestion that you might mention to management: How would a once per game penalty challenge for the coach work? That would reduce the chance of slowing the game dramatically. Being a one-time only the coach's would not want to waste it. Another way would be to do like the NHL and have a penalty (like 5 yds) if the challenge goes against the coach. The Ref's usually do an amazing job, but that no-call cost those players thousands of dollars, deprived the city of New Orleans a SB shot, and tarnished the NFL. Thanks for the time and the great job you guys do.

Jim: Hey David. It was a brutal no-call. I like your suggestion. Something needs to change where that doesn't happen again.

Have a great week everyone!

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