NASHVILLE – I'm back from the Senior Bowl, and back into another Titans mailbag.
It was a good week in Mobile. Lots of interesting prospects, and lots of gumbo.
Saw Titans General Manager Jon Robinson across the way taking notes, as I was taking a few myself.
His trump mine.
But I've got the controls of this keyboard and mailbag.
It seems there's a lot to discuss this week in Titans land.
Let's go …
Here's the link to ask questions: CLICK HERE
Jordan Newbury from Cushing, Texas
Question: Hello Jim. I don't even know what to say about the promotions of Todd Downing and Shane Bowen. Vrabel and JRob know them and their qualifications much better than us, the fans, but the numbers don't lie, and neither have a great track record at the positions they've been given. I don't have a question about either coach because I know already what they bring to the table. I only hope they surprise us all. I felt as though the Titans were right on the cusp of greatness, now I worry that with these two uninspiring promotions, square one could be at hand once again.
Jim: I think you said it best Jordan when you said Vrabel and Robinson know their qualifications better than any of us, because that's true. The HC and the GM are hard-core football guys, and they want to win. They know their futures are tied to coaching hires, players acquisitions, wins, losses, etc. The team looked outside the building on both positions, even if it wasn't widely reported. Ultimately, they decided it would be best from a continuity standpoint to stay in-house. Downing doesn't deserve the shade – he has a solid track record as a coach, and with developing players. I understand the scrutiny surrounding the elevation of Bowen to defensive coordinator based on how last season went. The defense was underwhelming, I know. But keep in mind he was calling a defense for the first time following an offseason with no OTAs, minicamps, and with limited contact with players. The team dealt with a lot of injuries on defense. Yes, the pass rush was non-existent, but let's keep it real here – Khalil Mack and Von Miller weren't lined up in two-tone blue rushing the QB. A lot of Sundays the Titans had practice squad call-ups out there rushing alongside Harold Landry, who was playing virtually every snap. I'm not going to sit here and say Shane Bowen is the next Dick LeBeau or Bill Belichick as a defensive coordinator. He's going to have to prove himself. And again, if Vrabel and Robinson believe in him, that says a lot in my mind. Plus, Vrabel wants someone to run his defense. Bringing someone in from the outside wouldn't have allowed him to do that the way he wants to.
De' Hall from Las Vegas, Nevada
Question: Hey Jim. This question has been bothering me for weeks so I'd appreciate it if you could give a little insight. It's about the Adam Humphries concussion/dirty hit. I understand the immediate reaction was to check on Adam and to get him the medical assistance needed right away (as it should be), but why was the hit not deemed a penalty? Unnecessary Roughness? Targeting? Yes he dropped the ball on the play but he was a defenseless receiver who took a shot to the head. That was a critical missed call that I think helped cost us the game.
Jim: Hi De'. Well, we had to hit the way-back machine for this one, all the way back to the November 1 game at Cincinnati. I think everyone agreed at the time it should have been ruled a penalty. The fact the player (Bengals DB Jessie Bates) was fined $20,000 for the hit the week after the game backs that thinking up. But I don't think that hit cost the Titans the game – they stunk it up that day. But not having Humphries down the stretch certainly hurt the offense, and the team's chances of winning.
Will Anderson from Sequatchie, Tennessee
Question: What does it mean for the Titans to lose Arthur Smith? Hated to lose him.
Jim: It's a big loss, no question. I thought Arthur did a nice job at the controls of the best offense in the Titans era. How much of a loss it ends up being remains to be seen, however. I think new offensive coordinator Todd Downing will have a great chance to be successful because he's a good coach, and the offense has lot of solid returning players. I don't expect to see dramatic changes on offense, but he's going to make some adjustments as he implements his own ideas and concepts. And Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown are capable of making him look pretty good, too.
Bradford Bailiff from Raleigh, North Carolina
Question: Hey Jim. I'm sure your inbox will be full about the new new DC and OC hires, but I'm so astounded I have to ask why on both fronts. Hiring Shane Bowen again and expecting different results than this year is the definition of insanity. It's obvious from the drop off that coaching was to blame by not putting players in positions to succeed. There's no excuse for a front of Clowney, Simmons, Beasley and Landry not to get sacks before Clowney was injured. Also there is nothing impressive about Todd Downing except his previous experience as an OC that is a mixed bag and his familiarity with the offense. I believe I can speak for most fans that if this doesn't work Vrabel will be fighting for his job. He refuses to hire people he doesn't know that are qualified. He seemingly only cares about keeping his personnel even though it could be detrimental to the team's success. JRob needs to step in and show Vrabel that football is a business in the NFL. We are wasting our window for a Super Bowl and it's very frustrating.
Jim: Yeah Bradford, the inbox if filling up just like it did when the Titans promoted Arthur Smith to OC when Matt LaFleur took over as head coach of the Packers. A bunch of folks sent me hot take emails like yours back then, and we saw how that went. Vrabel is not just winging it with his decisions. And based on some of Vrabel's hires in his first three seasons, I trust his football knowledge a little more than a guy from Raleigh. No offense, but you lost me when you listed Beasley among those in 'Exhibit A' on 'there's no excuse for not getting sacks.' Beasley couldn't have sacked me this season.
Mike Tate from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Question: Jim, what's going on with the team? Promoting Bowen to DC. Is this a joke? Well it's not funny. Didn't we just have the worst defense in the NFL and now we are awarding failure. Is this really the best the Titans could've come up with?? Thanks for your time.
Jim: Good to hear from you Mike.
Brian Kroboth from Emmaus, Pennsylvania
Question: Hey Jim. Thanks for keeping Titans Nation updated weekly.. . longtime Oilers/Titans fan here...I know a championship isn't too far away...really like the DC and OC promotions from within. Question is for the offensive side of the ball with so many weapons, don't you think we could look more explosive like the Chiefs If Henry and D Evans would be in the backfield at the same time it would really keep defense guessing. I also think defense will bounce back strong next season. Have a great day
Jim: Hey Brian. I like the optimism! I think Evans is going to add an extra dimension in Year 2 that we just didn't see this past season. I'm not sure he'll be on the with Henry a bunch, but I think you'll see a lot more of him. He's an explosive guy who was just never right in 2020.
Gene Gray from Hornbeak, Tennessee
Question: I know your probably getting blown up in the mailbag this week but we gotta ask Jim: What the actual hell is going on in Nashville. Our defense was pathetic last season and that's being nice so we hand the keys to the guy that Coach V blamed at the end of the year???? Are we drug testing staff and front office people at the TITANS HQ? Serious question though if we have the same or worse production next season on defense will Coach V be on the "hot seat " going into 2022 or possibly fired? This is just a bonehead move there was plenty of talent on the team and plenty of good DC's out there. Still ride or die #fortheboys but ...looks like its setting up to be a death sentence for next season.
Jim: Hey Gene. Man, this is my first question from Hornbeak! You made your point … #dadjoke.
But C'mon, give the Vrabel 'hot seat' talk a rest. The team just won the AFC South for the first time since 2008, a year after going to the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 2002. Yes, the goal is to win the Super Bowl, and one team will do that next Sunday. But Vrabel has done some really good things in his first three season, and I think he's earned the benefit of the doubt.
E.M. McFarland from San Diego, California
Question: I would really love to see Titans go after DeVonta Smith and Christian Barmore (both from Alabama) in the draft. I know it would be hard to land both. Do you see Titans making a move up to get either, and what do you think it would take to move up to 4, 5 or 6 overall in the draft?
Jim: Snap out of that REM sleep, E.M. DeVonta Smith will be long gone by the Titans pick, and they don't have the ammo to go up and get him. Sure, they could sell the farm on draft picks to do it, but it's not going to happen. Barmore is a guy a lot of teams are gonna like, so we'll see.
Gregory King from Huntsville, Alabama
Question: Thanks for the love and hospitality to my nephew and our family I believe Nashville is a great place for Desmond I believe this is the best destination for him. What do you think is on the front offices mind?
Jim: Hi Gregory. I had no idea Desmond had an uncle in the area. I thought Desmond was a real asset, and he fit in the locker room well, too. He developed a nice bond with Jeffery Simmons right out of the gate because they're fraternity brothers. I can't speak for the GM, but I suspect he's a guy they'll try and keep. For starters, he's a good player. And secondly, after trading a sixth-round pick to the Chargers to get him, I bet the front office would like to continue working with their investment. Here's hoping it happens. There's enough room for two Kings on the roster, right?
Calvin Spadafore from Texas City, Texas
Question: Hey Jim, Calvin here from the Houston area and I've been a Oiler/Titan fan since Earl Campbell's rookie season. I used to go watch him run in the old Astrodome back in the day and he's my all time favorite player! I'm 49 years old now so that tells you how long I've been waiting for that elusive Lombardi trophy lol. But I am a diehard and I even lived in the Nashville/Antioch area for awhile back in 2017 as well. I've really enjoyed your columns and pressers over the years and this is my first time writing to you so thanks so much for your time, you and Mike Keith are awesome! I'm just curious to know what your true opinion is about Vrabel. I'm not trying to put you on the spot, but I've seen alot of good players and coaches come through this organization in the past 4 decades only to come up short every single year! And quite frankly, it's getting old to say the least! I believe this will be Vrabes' fourth year and I like him alot don't get me wrong. But why can't we ever make the big splash hires for OC and DC? It seems like we always end up with the kibbles and bits left over after the other teams gets the good ones!! I mean Dean Pees is the only coordinator in recent memory that I can remember who was worth a crap that did well for us and we let him go. I think we probably could've got him back if Arthur Smith would've stayed with us. I do realize 2020 was a rough year for everyone but beyond that, why can't we ever have the great coordinators? Coaches and schemes make good players great!! So does Vrabel think he can do everything better than everybody else or what? He needs to hire some great assistants and let them do their jobs instead of interfering with every little thing! I think it makes the coordinators and the other coaches feel like they can't do their jobs good enough. We've always had good players and he's a "player's coach" I get all that, but I think he needs to focus more on the organization as a whole and not every single position!! I think him and JRob need to buy the groceries and let his coaches do the cooking!! What do you think? Thanks for your time buddy and keep up the great work. Tell Mike I said hello and Titan Up!
Jim: Hey Calvin. Great background. As for your questions, I like Vrabel. I think he's a really good coach, and good motivator, and a good leader of men. I don't get your "why can't we ever make the big splash hires for OC and DC?" Heck, his last two OCs are now head coaches – Matt LaFleur (Green Bay) and Arthur Smith (Atlanta). And Dean Pees was a pretty good hire himself before he retired (only to come out of retirement to coach with Smith in Atlanta). A bad take by you on the rest of the Vrabel rant, which is misguided and off base. Have you forgotten the days of Ken Whisenhunt?
George Colley from Canton, Georgia
Question: Hey Jim. So, the Titans did get the one and done in the playoffs, so we have the 22nd pick in the first round of the draft. If we can get good players can we be Super Bowl contenders?
Jim: Yes, that would certainly help the cause.
Adrian Lopez from Caracas, Venezuela
Question: Hey Jim espero estés bien y alejado del Covid-19, felicitaciones por tu trabajo durante la temporada... Esta fue una gran y divertida temporada de los Titans aunque me quede con ganas de dar el siguiente paso...Estoy seguro que estamos a las puertas de algo grandioso con nuestro equipo... Mi pregunta es cuanto crees que nos perjudico la falta de un DC legitimo para ser mejores? Cual crees debe ser el criterio primario para escoger coordinadores ofensivos y defensivos? no me queda claro si es la filosofia similar al HC o que sean exitosos en su desarrollo profesional o que hayan trabajado en organizaciones exitiosas? Por ultimo cual es para ti el agente libre mas codiciado por los Titans? Y a cual de nuestros jugadores retendrias sin dudas?
Jim: Hola Adrian. Espero que todo esté bien contigo también. Creo que Vrabel lo dejó bastante claro al final de la temporada que los Titans tenían un coordinador defensivo, pero él no tenía un título. Pero esta no es la razón principal por la que el equipo se desempeñó mal en defensa en mi opinión. Claro, Shane Bowen tuvo que encontrar su camino como un jugador que llama por primera vez, pero lo hizo después de una temporada baja sin OTA ni minicampamento. Y seamos realistas, los Titans tuvieron algunos agujeros evidentes en la defensa la temporada pasada. No asustaron a nadie con sus cazas. Yo mismo tengo curiosidad por ver qué dirección toma Vrabel con sus contrataciones. En cuanto a los agentes libres que me gustaría ver retenidos, ¿qué tal Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith, Jayon Brown y DaQuan Jones para empezar?
Mark Stevens from Williamsburg, Kentucky
Question: Do you think Corey Davis will be back? Thanks.
Jim: Short and sweet, Mark. I like it. If only the answer could be so simple. A lot to be considered here, like: How much is Corey willing to play for? How much are other teams willing to pay him? There's no doubt the Titans would love to have him on the team moving forward. But the Titans also wanted Jack Conklin back after last season, and then the Browns paid him a lot more money than the Titans were willing to. So we'll have to see what transpires.
Bill from Spokane, Washington
Question: Mr. Wyatt. I'd hate to see Houston QB Watson end up in Indianapolis, what with their outstanding offensive and defensive lines. Any chance the Titans offer QB Tannehill and a number 1 draft pick? They'd be set at QB for the next ten years. Thanks!
Alex T from Palo Alto, California
Question: I've been a Titans fan for almost 5 years now. Since Eric Bieniemy did not get a head coaching job (shocker), this would be a golden opportunity for us to fire or demote Vrabel to DC and hire Bieniemy as our HC since Bieniemy will probably be pursued by many teams again next year. We DESPERATELY need a good offensive play-caller like him in order to win the AFC South again next year.
Jack Walker from Calabasas, California
Question: Hey Jim. I know this is going to be a sensitive question but here goes. Isaiah Wilson. Some rookies work hard but just don't get a chance to play. I have a feeling that's not the case here. Does Wilson want to play? If not, do the Titans send him packing? And do you expect Kristian Fulton to be revved up and ready for next season?
Jim: Hi Jack. Isaiah Wilson has to prove he wants to play, and he has to help himself. He's done neither so far, so I can't say what's going to end up happening with him. Based on what I have seen so far, I have higher hopes of Kristian Fulton being revved up and ready to go for next season than Wilson.
Kristin Lloyd from Tallahassee, Florida
Question: Hey Jim! Where do you think the Titans will target key defensive pieces–the draft, free agency, trades? I know that I'm not an NFL GM but I'm not really sure anyone is happy about this defense's performance or last year's signings (King trade being the exception). Just wondering if it's better to evaluate a young guy and bring him in as a rookie or go after a proven player who may have fewer years left, like Bud Dupree. Also, if you had to pick 1 position for Robinson to target on offense this offseason, which would it be? Thanks!
Jim: Hi Kristin. I think both in free agency and the draft, and with Jon Robinson, a trade is always a possibility as well. I think the Titans need a veteran who can step in and play immediately, but drafting a guy and developing him would be a nice option as well. Keep in mind Bud Dupree is recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in December, so he has questions marks attached to him. As far as what to target on offense, well, it depends on what happens with Corey Davis. If he's not retained, the Titans are going to need to find his replacement.
Have a great weekend everyone!