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Weekend Mailbag: Jim Wyatt Answers Questions From Titans Fans Before Sunday's Game vs the Steelers

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NASHVILLE – It's Steelers week, and there's plenty on the line for the Titans this weekend.

Based on the result on the Colts-Patriots game tonight, with a win on Sunday the Titans could either A) clinch the AFC South this weekend or B) reclaim the No.1 spot in the AFC in the playoff seedings.

This much we know: The Titans need to take care of business.

Just like I'm doing here in this mailbag.

Let's get right to it …

Here's the link to ask questions: CLICK HERE.

Arthur Williams from Franklin, Tennessee
Question:
I know it is not supposed to matter what the public media has to say about our TITANS and I'm sure Mike Vrabel would roll his eyes … but Dan Hanzus just put out his power rankings and he put three 7-6 teams ahead of the 9-4 TITANS! We beat the 7-6 Colts twice and we beat the 7-6 Bills. We also beat the #6 9-4 Rams and the #4 9-4 Chiefs. What is up? We are 2 games away from clinching the AFC South again. Looking forward to the end of the regular season and the start off the playoffs. My question is which half of the ball do think we are stronger on, offense or defense?

Jim: Hey Arthur. I always advise folks not to pay attention to the rankings. Remember, a lot of folks had the Titans at No.1 before they lost back-to-back-game vs the Texans and Patriots. The Titans will need to continue earning wins, and respect. As for which side of the ball is stronger, right now I'd have to say the defense.

Jonathan Humphrey from Rumsey, Kentucky
Question:
Hey Jim! Long-time fan (since day one in TN). I live about 8 miles from Bremen where the Tornado wiped the town off the face of the Earth. It touched my heart to see that Firkser and Hudson came up to help KY folks. That's how to show you are a TITAN...TEAM WORK!!! Love my Titans and looking forward to seeing them in the Playoffs. Quick question: How are the Offensive coaches feeling about the O line and what they can do to protect Tannehill better? I feel like Tannehill is not getting the time he needs and deserves to be able to get the ball down field like we all know he can. Much love for you and what you do for the team. KY STRONG & TITAN UP!!!!!!!!

Jim: Hey Jonathan. Hope you are doing OK. The devastation left behind by the tornadoes in Kentucky looked awful. So sad to see so many lives lost, and homes destroyed. I think it was really cool what Tommy and Anthony did this week. Here's the story for those who missed it: CLICK HERE.
As for the thought process of the coaches, they know the o-line has to protect Ryan Tannehill better. He's been sacked a whopping 37 times, which is a big concern. It's impacting the plays the team is able to call as well. The Titans need to be more consistent up front, especially this Sunday – the Steelers can get after the QB, no doubt.

Stacy Madden from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Question:
Hello sir. I have only one simple question. Why has there been no Derrick Henry sightings on the sideline? I have noticed he hasn't been there. I know injured players usually don't travel with the team but I haven't even seen him at Nissan.

Jim: Hi Stacy. Derrick hasn't been on the sideline, but a lot of the injured guys haven't been there either, so I wouldn't read too much into it. The reality is Derrick has spent a lot of time with his foot in a boot while using a knee scooter to get around since it keeps weight off the foot. It's not safe for him to be down there. Plus, have you tried rolling on one those things on grass?

Joe Levickis from Joelton, Tennessee
Question:
Hey Jim! It's been great running into you at both the home and away games this year. I really appreciate you taking video of my wife getting her AJ Brown "Waffle House" sign autographed!
I was curious--do you think Nate Davis will be in line for a nice extension this offseason? He's quietly been a quite a force for us for the last several years and I can't imagine we'd let him go elsewhere after his rookie deal is up after next season. It's just hard to gauge how teams internally view OL so I was curious on your thoughts.
Hope to see you in Pittsburgh!

Jim: Hey Joe! Hope all is well. I think Nate has played well. But he still has a year left on his contract (which runs through 2022). I suspect some other contracts will be on the front burners ahead of Nate's rookie deal. See ya in Pittsburgh!

Steve Seburn from Haileybury, Ontario, Canada
Question:
Hi Jim and best wishes and happy holiday season. I know this questions kinda a week late but what was up with handshake Urban Mayer gave Coach Vrabel after the game. I understand your team got shut out but still show some sort of sportsmanship. Thanks! #TITANUP

Jim: Hey Steve. Well, Urban is now the former head coach of the Jaguars. Hey, I'm not here to defend Urban, because he had a disastrous 2021 in Jacksonville. But I will say this: Coach Urban and Coach Vrabel had a long chat on the field in pregame, so after the game, what was there really left to say?

Aaron Judge from Western Australia
Question:
Hey Jim. I feel terrible and I must apologise to all Titans fans. After complaining for sooo long about not getting Titan gear in Aust. Guess what… I got some Titan gear. I got myself a number 22 and wore it so proudly for a week, every day. Next game, well DH broke his foot. I blame myself… on another note, how our defence has turned around this season. Great to see some reward for time and effort. Jim, how do you see the offence taking us past the second round of post season? Interested in how we can increase our output with limited input.

Jim: Thanks for owning up to it Aaron! … The defense has been much improved, and adding Bud Dupree back – along with Zach Cunningham – could take things to another level. As for the offense, well, it needs to keep getting players back, too. I think A.J. is close, and hopefully, Derrick Henry will be back on board down the road.

Levi Scheid from Tampa, Florida
Question:
Hey Jim. Life-long time Titans fans, been following you and your mailbag for about 3 years now and this is my first time writing in. My question/comment is in regards to Julio and his signing. I was never a fan of his signing with his injury history, however I was excited at the idea of his leadership and experience helping our young wr core grow. I'm curious, have you seen a difference in our wr core due to Julio's presence?

Jim: Hey Levi. Good to hear from you. I'll be completely honest with you: Without locker room access during COVID times, I don't see how players interact with their teammates quite as much. I know Julio is close with A.J. and there're no question he's been a positive influence on him. From everything I've heard and seen, it sounds like he's been a good teammate. I'll also say this: A lot of the young guys could learn a lot from Julio just by watching him and how he works. He's had a hell of a career, and he's done it by working hard. Sometimes you can learn a lot from just paying attention to how the best guys do things.

Jefferey Fradsham from Crewe, Virginia
Question:
Merry Christmas, Jim, well, it may not have been pretty, but it was beautiful! Over the 40 plus years I have been an Oiler/Titans fan, it is very satisfying to see the team control its own destiny. I cannot recall the seasons where I watched the scoreboard of other games as much as I watched the games of the men in blue. What a strange season, the games before the bye week were like the regular season, the next three seem like play in games. Win and your in the playoffs. Love me some blue!

Jim: Good to hear from you again, Jefferey. The Titans do control their own destiny for a playoff spot, and the thought of possibly clinching the division with three games left to play is almost unheard of. But the Titans are gunning for the all-important No.1 seed, which would be huge.

Karen O'Keefe from Spring Hill, Tennessee
Question:
Loved the segment on you on The Mike Vrabel show this week. It was all true. We love us some Jim Wyatt! My question is : Do you think all of the NFL games including playoffs will be played with so many teams being affected by Covid?

Jim: Thanks, Karen. I appreciate it! 😊
As for whether all games will be played, well, I sure hope so. The recent surge in cases and the number of guys who have tested positive is concerning. I sure hope everyone can get things under control. Take care.

Alex Athanasi from London, England
Question:
Hi Jim. Thanks once again for answering all these questions and giving us a more personalized incite into the team.
Four questions from across the pond:
1. We know how big the loss of The King was this year and with the team IR'ing and also dressing the most players in NFL history this year, aside from The King, who do you think has been the biggest long term and short term loss to the team this season?
2. Rumors have been swirling recently about Roger Saffold possibly hanging up his cleats at the end of the year, is there any truth in this? Have you heard of anyone else who may retire?
3. Our return game has been very uneasy this year, do you know why we have brought in a returner like Golden Tate and not used him, because I feel a bit uneasy with our return game at the moment?
4. Who are your Titans picks for the Pro Bowl this year?

Jim: Hey Alex.
Let's go rapid-fire on these:
1- A.J. Brown short-term, and I hate we couldn't see Caleb Farley develop further, which makes him the answer on the long-term question.
2- Rodger is in Year 12, and he's been banged up again this year. I'm sure this isn't the first time retirement rumors have come up. Heck, he can't play forever.
3- Golden Tate was signed to help down the stretch, and to have as insurance. Like a lot of folks, I'm curious about how much he could help, and when he might be used. But for now, Chester Rogers is the top option in the eyes of the coaching staff.
4- Guys I think will make it: Kevin Byard, Jeffery Simmons, Harold Landry. Guys who could also make it: Morgan Cox, Ola Adeniyi, Taylor Lewan, Denico Autry.

Brett Heard from Antioch, Tennessee
Question:
Man, I think Brown and Evans must have been motivated by the Cunningham signing because both of them played great games. My actual question has nothing to do with that. So in Madden 22 I did a franchise with the Titans (duh) but in 2023 we got a new stadium. Do you think EA Sports knows something we don't???

Jim: Hey Brett. In time, the Titans are going to get a renovated stadium/campus around the stadium. But it won't be for 2023

Randy Porter from Hendersonville, Tennessee
Question:
Hi Jim, First, let me voice my heartfelt concern for all of our neighbors and fellow fans, devastated by the recent storms. Any complaints or concerns about football hereafter, are insignificant compared to what these families are dealing with. I hope that all fans will do anything they can to help these folks out. But, the great people of Tennessee, Titans fans and the Titans organization always help each other out in times of need and we should be proud of that.
I've been reading what I consider unfair criticism of Ryan Tannehill this season. Yes, his numbers are down and yes, Ryan needs to do some things better. But let's be fair and look at the big picture here. First, Ryan runs for his life most of the time and has been sacked more than any QB in the NFL this season, with a staggering 37 sacks (so far) ! Even against Jacksonville's defense, currently ranked 30th, Tannehill was constantly flushed from the pocket, hurried or sacked. DJ Smoot terrorized him the entire game. The Titans inability to pick up blitzes and maintain pass protection is evident and clearly thats a problem that's not improving. Now, to be fair, there's other factors at work here. First, defenses have no fear of our run game, which green-lights aggressive pass rushes. Second, Ryan seldom sees the same receivers two games in a row and can not be expected to execute many timing routes effectively. New receivers are shuffled in and out, with "next man up!" enthusiasm, some running the wrong routes altogether at times and dropping well placed balls. The result is, Tannehill must flush and look for quick, short targets constantly. He doesn't have time for a deep pass, check-downs, or anything else. Even the OC has to creatively adjust for this, other than simply running up the middle so frequently. Again, I'm not saying Ryan couldn't do some things better, but he is a much better QB than his stats are showing. In fact, if Tannehill wasn't as tough as he is, we would have lost him long ago to injury, because he's taken more abuse than any QB in the NFL. I believe in Ryan 100%, but he needs help. He needs a balanced attack, he needs his receivers healthy and he needs consistent protection. Ryan has none of these. So all things considered, Ryan has done a lot with what little he has, but it's time his protection gets the same commitment and priority from staff, that other areas have. Improve protection and we will likely see a marked improvement in our run game as well. Some good running backs are hitting a solid wall play after play. Foreman is good, but he needs blocking, holes and some creative plays. Point is, there's many reasons our passing and rushing stats are down of late, but right now, Tannehill is having to be our QB and our leading rusher (5.3 yds per carry) too, so let's give some credit where it's due and consider all factors here. In the mean time, our Titans and staff have kept us at the top of our division and a contender for a playoff run. I'm pretty happy about that. Thanks as always Jim and Titan Up !

Jim: Hey Randy. You always send in very detailed, thought-out emails…. Hope all is well

Jason Key from San Angelo, Texas
Question:
Hey Jim. It was nice to get the Jags after the bye week, even nicer to see the defense in full strength. The secondary looked great, albeit against an overmatched rookie QB. It was Jacksonville, but there were a lot of positives this week. Julio was back on the field. Foreman started strong. The offense didn't give the ball away.
This week should tell us a lot about this team, going into Heinz with a little less time to prepare than the Steelers. I guess it depends on which Pittsburgh team we will see, the one that looked woeful in the first half last weekend against the Vikings or the one that stormed back in the second half of the same game. What do you think?
There's no team I dislike more, so I really want the win this week! Titan Up!

Jim: Well, we're going to find out soon, Jason

Have a great weekend everyone!

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