NASHVILLE – It's been a wintry week in Nashville.
Ice and snow blanketed Music City, and it's still a winter wonderland here today.
It was also a week when Titans General Manager Jon Robinson and Coach Mike Vrabel answered questions from reporters, and fans.
We'll discuss some of that in here and more in this weekend's Titans mailbag.
Here's the link to ask questions: CLICK HERE
Jared Mixon from Valdez, Alaska
Question: I keep hearing about how we need to revamp the defense in this offseason, but if memory serves, it was our offense that fell flat in that playoff loss to Baltimore. Hopefully, we learned our lesson from last offseason and we don't spring for any big-name free agents this year. My question is about the D-line and O-line (which I think is the most vital part of any team): Who is expected to come back, and are there any top young lineman that are likely to be available when the Titans are on the clock? Also, he's no longer on the team, but congrats to Succop for getting that ring!
Jim: It's 16 degrees in Nashville as I bang out this mailbag, Jared. I hope you're enjoying that balmy 20-degree weather in Alaska. 😊
Hey, you're right about the Titans offense in the playoffs, there's no denying it. The defense was the problem most of the season, but not in the loss to the Ravens, when the offense laid an egg. On the defensive line, Jeffery Simmons and Larrell Murchison are under contract for 2021, while DaQuan Jones and Jack Crawford are among those with expiring deals. There's a chance they could both be back on new deals, but it remains to be seen. I know the team likes both of them. As for the o-line, the entire starting five remains under contract, and Taylor Lewan is scheduled to return after his knee injury. Yes, some prospects will be available throughout the draft, but who is added depends largely on what positions the team elects to address first.
Danny Sasnett from Chandler, Arizona
Question: Hey Jim. Hope all is well! Obviously, Jeffery Simmons is a force on our D Line and we definitely need to fill the void in our pass rush this offseason. I have heard the JJ Watt buzz and I love him as a player and person, however, I feel like we would benefit more from getting a younger guy might not be as effective as Watt would be next year) that has proven ability and will be able to help us the next few years and develop. Do you think we would benefit more from Watt, who I assume we would have to pay a lot more money for, or from a guy from the draft or even signing maybe someone not as "good" as Watt for less money to have a little more cap space to build on other weak spots or another interior DL?
Jim: Hey Danny. Well, it depends on who the young guy is. The best-case scenario I think would be to get Watt on a reasonable deal, while also adding another young beast on the defensive line. But so much depends on what kind of a deal Watt might be looking for, and how much the Titans are willing to spend. I do like the thought of developing another young guy alongside Simmons.
Avery Hayes from Huntington, West Virginia
Question: Are we are going to see victory speeches in the locker room this year?
Jim: Let's hope so Avery, because it would mean victories on the field, and against the coronavirus. The reason you didn't see them during last year's 11-win season was because of restrictions related to the virus.
Jordan Marbury from Birmingham, Alabama
Question: Do you think it makes sense to get more speedy receivers? My logic behind this is that having a speedy receiver would allow the defense to disguise their coverage when trying to stop Derrick Henry. Most defenses crowd the line of scrimmage to fake as if they are going all in on the run and then drop back in coverage to defend a receiver. I think if we had one speedy WR and another tall athletic WR we could really put more pressure on defenses. In my opinion this is why the Chiefs lost the Super Bowl. They didn't have the pressure of a run game to balance that awesome pass game they have. Not to mention the offensive line has aged. Which brings me to my final comment, big Saffold and those guys aren't getting any younger, our run and pass game is only as effective as our Oline, I think we should beef it up. Here are two draft sleepers.
1.WR TJ Vasher Texas Tech
2. OG Royce Newman Ole Miss
3.WR Tutu Atwell Louisville
P.S. Atwell is the speedster but I would choose Vasher first, Vasher is the most dominant I've seen outside of Chase and Smith.
Jim: Hey Jordan. I'm all about adding a speedster at receiver. But the GM made it clear he's looking for more than just burners at the receiver position. Here's what Jon Robinson said this week when asked about the prospects of adding a burner: "I think the priority for that position would be to get open and catch the football, and then run with it after you catch it. There's a lot of fast guys in this league that can't catch, a lot of fast guys that can't get open. I think that when it comes to that position specifically, however they get open. A.J. (Brown) gets open different than Kalif Raymond, Kalif gets open different than Corey (Davis). They all get open different ways, but we want guys that can get open, catch the football, run with it after they catch it. One of the more unsung jobs is their ability to block because we've got a guy we like to hand the ball to a lot, and we've got to have guys that can go in and dig out those safeties, dig out those weakside linebackers."
Luis Linares C. from Ciudad de México, México
Question: Hola, Jim. Es la primera vez que te escribo y me da mucho gusto saludarte por este medio. Gracias por mantenernos informados todos los días sobre lo que acontece alrededor de los Titans. Soy un fiel seguidor del equipo desde finales de la década de los 80's, cuando Warren Moon comandaba a los Oilers. Es tan grande mi afición por este equipo que en los años más recientes casi no me he perdido ningún juego de los Titans. Los sigo por internet. Yo sé que la última temporada no terminó de la mejor manera, pues los aficionados teníamos altas expectativas para el equipo al tomar en cuenta lo hecho un año antes. Pero aun así, con temporadas malas o buenas, para mi es un orgullo y un honor siempre ver y seguir a mis Titanes. Ahora, de cara a la siguiente temporada, me preocupa que los Titans carecen de una buena defensa. Las defensas ganan campeonatos, lo acabamos de ver. Ya nos has informado que Vrabel priorizará reforzar la defensa, pero, ¿el nuevo coach defensivo es la mejor opción para ello? ¿Podrá mejorar la defensa, cuando él ya trabajó en ello la temporada pasada y la unidad defensiva de los Titanes estuvo fatal? ¿Qué esquema defensivo implementará, el 4-3 o 3-4? En fin, ojalá y esté equivocado sobre el nuevo coach para bien del equipo. Bueno, Jim, gracias por tomarte la atención de leer estas líneas de desahogo, de catarsis, y otra vez muchas gracias por informarnos de mi querido equipo de los Titanes, a quienes espero verlos en vivo algún día en su estadio en Tennessee. La esperanza es lo última que se pierde. Un fuerte abrazo.
Jim: Hola Luis, ¡y bienvenido a la carpeta de correo! Creo que mucha gente siente lo mismo que tú sobre la defensa. Y estoy de acuerdo, necesita mejorar. Vrabel cree que Shane Bowen es la mejor opción para ello. Así que ahora, los entrenadores deberán encontrar formas de ser más efectivos. Además, el equipo también necesita adquirir mejores jugadores, muchachos que puedan capturar mariscales de campo y jugar bien en la cobertura. La defensa fue mala en muchos partidos la temporada pasada. Creo que verás al equipo jugar de muchas maneras diferentes en defensa. Cuídate y gracias por escribirnos.
Hector Vasquez from El Paso, Texas
Question: Long time Oilers/Titans fan since 1996 Titan'd Up here in El Paso Jim! My question is: If somehow we get a defensive lineman in free agency, what position player do you think we are most likely to draft in Round 1? Jim I know Titans fans would like to see JJ Watt but I believe we could get someone in the draft who can produce a mediocre 5 sacks in a season and save a bundle on cap space. If we are gonna go broke spending money on a player in free agency it should be someone who is dominate like Allen Robinson or Kenny Golladay. Also, here is a HUGE sleeper player for the draft, he has the best highlights i've seen from any player in the draft including Devonta Smith and Jamar Chase. His name is TJ Vasher, WR, from Texas Tech. I've followed him since high school in Wichita.
Jim: I'm still on the edge rusher train Hector, and I'd like to see them added in free agency and the draft. I'm familiar with Vasher – he's a good looking prospect for sure.
Deshaun Bryant from Ripley, West Virginia
Question: Do any of the star players like Derrick Henry or Ryan Tannehill have any power of making front office decisions if they wanted?
Jim: Hello Deshaun. 'Power' probably isn't the right word. I do think from time to time the coaches and the front office ask players for input on players, especially if they know them. But players aren't making the call on who is signed. The GM has the control on roster decisions, although he works with the head coach in making decisions.
Dale Diehl from Old Hickory, Tennessee
Question: What is the status of Isaiah Wilson? Do you think the Titans try one more time to get this kid on the right track? I know Isaiah has to commit to the job, but is it too late? Do you think the team will give the support after what happened this season?
Jim: Hey Dale. Isaiah remains on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list. Isaiah needs to help himself before he can help the team, and he has done neither since being drafted. I'm going to refer to Jon Robinson's words on him this week, because he didn't beat around the bush when asked about Wilson: "I haven't spoken to him since that list got put out," Robinson said of Wilson. "We did a lot of work a year ago leading up to selecting him, the evaluation process, talking to different sources, visiting with him countless numbers of times. For whatever reason the player that this fall was here in Nashville wasn't the guy that we spent time with last year. I think he's going to have to make a determination if he wants to do everything necessary to play pro football and that's going to be on him. I know what the expectation level is here, it's no different than any other player on the football team. We have a certain standard that we want players to prepare and perform at professionally, and as people. A lot of work to be done there."
Thomas Sircy from Goodlettsville, Tennessee
Question: Best to you and yours Jim. It's the "BLAH" part of the offseason but you help keep things going. I truly believe the TITANS ownership and personnel are committed to winning and can't wait till next season. If everybody was perfect we would have 16 super bowls. I trust they will learn from mistakes this year (Beasley, Joseph, Clowney, Wilson). Looking forward to draft, free agency, fans in the stadium and a lot of wins.
Jim: Hey Thomas. Thanks for taking the time. We're definitely in a lull from a news standpoint, but it's going to get cranked up soon. Free agency is now less than a month away …
Tom Angora from Rochester, New York
Question: Hope all is well....been an Oiler/Titan fan since that magical Monday Night with 4 Earl Campbell TDS vs. the Dolphins. A quick comment and a question. If Vrabel has proven one thing this far is that he will typically make good decisions (I was frantic when he promoted Arthur Smith) so I have to trust his commitment to the two coordinators he promoted. We were 11-5 for goodness sake....
Anyway do you feel like the issues on defense were primarily rooted in injuries and signings gone bad? Adoree never looked right but tried to go, we lost Jayon Brown, and Fulton was banged up quite a bit. That's not to mention Beasley being underwhelming and Clowney missing half of the season. All team deal with injuries but do you think this is an unfair assessment of Bowen's capabilities?
Jim: Appreciate the email. I'm not going to blame all of the failures on defense on injuries. Sure, not having Adoree' and Jayon and Kristian for a good chunk of the season hurt, and Clowney would've made more of an impact had he stayed healthy. But there's no excuse for being as bad as the Titans were across the board. The defense was underwhelming with some pretty talented players on the field. In 2021 some of those same guys are going to need to play better, and Vrabel and Bowen and Co. will have to find ways to use them better, and get more out of them. Adding some new pieces, and staying healthy, of course would help, too.
Have a great weekend everyone!