NASHVILLE – Welcome to the second half of the 2019 season.
And to another Titans mailbag.
Which direction is this season going to go? Well, we'll start to get some clues on Sunday in Charlotte when the Titans face the Panthers.
We'll start to get some answers right now as we kick off another mailbag…
Harry Smith from Sheffield, United Kingdom
Question: Hi Jim, long time reader first time writer here, I'd like to start by saying thank you for all you do for us fans keeping us in the loop! I know it's far too early to be thinking of what will happen at the end of the season, but the level Logan Ryan is playing at cannot be ignored. Based on that, what do you feel that the likelihood of him being re-signed as his deal runs out at the end of the year? I imagine he would be at the top of the team's list to get a deal done but do you get the feeling he wants to stay? Titan up!
Jim: Hi Harry. Thanks for chiming in from the UK! This has become a popular question, because Logan Ryan has made it one with his outstanding play. Based on how involved he is in the community, and the camaraderie he has with his teammates, I suspect Logan would love to stay. And I think Titans GM Jon Robinson and HC Mike Vrabel would love to keep him as well. To say whether or not an extension happens by the end of the season or if at all, though, would be pure speculation on my part. There's no doubt Logan has raised his price tag with the way he's played. He's one of the most consistent producers and most valuable guys on the team. But how much is the team willing to pay him? Again, only the GM has the answer to that question and I'll be honest -- he's not sharing that info with me. I do know the team has a lot of players scheduled to become free agents, and some tough decisions are going to have to be made.
Will Morris from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Question: Hey Jim! I am so excited about our first-round pick Jeffery Simmons! We thought he wouldn't play at all and now he is a force. I was a bit skeptical about drafting an injured player but apparently my fears were unfounded. Keep up the good work!
Jim: Hey Will. Jeffery has been outstanding right out of the gate. The Titans got him for steal at pick No.19 – I think he would have gone in the top 5-10 picks if he'd been healthy at the time of the draft, minus the ACL. And as good as he's been so far, just imagine how good he'll be in future years when he's 100 percent healthy.
Michael Newsome from Drexel, North Carolina
Question: Hey Jim. Titans are finally returning to my part of the world, can't wait to get in my costume and make some noise. I have a couple questions. 1) Any insight on Adoree Jackson? I've been looking forward to seeing him play all year, would hate to find out that I'm not going to see him on Sunday.
My other question is concerning our offensive line. We seem quite beat up, right now. But they have a bottom 5 defense vs the run and they have given up the most rushing TDs in the league. Is this a type of game where we need to lean on the offensive line and try to let them own the game, or are they too banged up for us to do so? As much as I have loved what Tannehill is doing, he has thrown into a lot of tight windows in the middle or to TEs over LBs with their back turned. I feel like that could be a recipe for disaster against Luke Kuechly.
Jim: Hey Michael. Hope to see you in Charlotte. Adoree' was a full participant in practice on Thursday and Friday and is good to go after missing last week. As for the o-line, it needs to jell even more and have success this week, and things get more complicated with center Ben Jones ruled out for Sunday's game because of lingering issues from a concussion. But I do think this is a game the team could have success on the ground. The Panthers are ranked 27th in the NFL in run defense, and the 49ers had 200-plus yards on the ground against them last week. Derrick Henry said the run game needs to take it to another level in the second half of the season, and that starts on Sunday. Touching on your last comment on Tannehill, he has taken some chances and made some nice throws. The hope is he can keep it going without turning the ball over.
Kenston Farmer from Memphis, Tennessee
Question: I wanted to touch on the FG decision by Vrabel. After a decade of conservative play by Jeff Fisher, among other coaches, I FEEL GREAT TO HAVE A COACH WHO PLAYS TO WIN THE GAME! All the local radio guys wanna crap on Coach V, but I hope they read what I'm about to say next (shout out to the GM Floyd Reese by the way, he's the only one that gets it). If you have a problem with the FG fake because the play didn't work, then you are WRONG! Having your opinion of a play solely be based on the success of it is crazy, especially if you would have been happy had the play worked. That's simply not good football knowledge, that's just idiot fandom. Now, if you did not like the play call whether it was successful or not, then you have a dog in the fight. Again, simply being upset about a play call based on its success won't get the job done. Do better Titan fan base! Let's ride this coach to a SUPERBOWL cause he's gonna be the one to lead us there! YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME! Talk to em Jim!
Jim: Appreciate you weighing in Kenston. Coming in strong from the Bluff City!
Bradley Fields from Phoenix, Arizona
Question: Hey, Jim! I'll be traveling to catch the Charlotte game and am excited to cheer on the squad in person! I know we're approaching those fall/winter months but the field did not look so good last week. There were a few plays for Henry and Lewan where footing seemed to be an issue so I'm curious, are any thoughts or concerns about the field conditions at Nissan Stadium? Hope the team knows how much the fans believe in them and thanks for keeping us Titans faithful up to date
Jim: Hey Bradley. Hope to see you in Charlotte as well. I also noticed it wasn't as green and pristine as it was early in the season, too. Part of the reason was because of the rain, but also it had just been re-sodded the week leading up to the game. I think it will look even better for the Chiefs game. Appreciate the email.
Darryl McDonald from Brooklyn, New York
Question: Jim. Reading the snap count of our offense is kind of scary to me. Corey Davis, AJ Brown, Adam Humphries, and Tajae Sharpe need more time on the field, a dual TE set isn't allowing Us to spread out opponent's defenses, making it harder on Henry and our offense as a whole. We signed Humphries and his snap count has been low. We have a very reliable receiving core with those top 4 wideouts, a nice rotation between them is all we need. Some WR screens and/or less TEs in a play would help establish our passing and running eventually. V/R. A loyal Titan fan
Jim: Hey Darryl. I hear ya and get your point. And I do think the snap counts – and opportunities – will fluctuate from week to week based on the opponent, and how they defend the Titans. Personally I do suspect Humphries will be even more involved than he has been at this point – and he currently leads the team in receptions.
Ryan Mumaw from Northwest, Ohio
Question: Hey Jim! No question or controversial opinion here this time… Just wanted to say that it's been a damn good 2 weeks as a Titans fan!! All things considered, our team is leaps and bounds from where we were earlier in the season! We're back to scoring touchdowns, forcing turnovers and winning games!! Keep up the good work everybody, and TITAN UP!!
Jim: Appreciate it, Ryan.
John Clark from Knoxville, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim. 2 wins in a row!!! I'm happy for our success and I'm very happy Tannehill is succeeding as the starting QB. Question is it wrong for me to still doubt this team? I honestly do want to see our Titans in the playoffs but I really don't want to get my hopes up to high to be let down again. I give 100% Kudos to our defense for playing great football BUT we still are vulnerable at the CB position and when it comes to deep passes. Offense looks a lot better and the blocking has improved it's still far from what it should be with Lewan and Saffold but if we can get another discipline lineman then I think we would be great up front. Henry is doing great he needs better blocking but also for the 3rd straight game every time he breaks loose for a long run or touchdowns they get called back and my last concern is we have problems with teams that have a great coaching staff I love Vrabel intensity and having the franks and beans try fake punts but sometimes it's not necessary I understand he's going for the win but in certain situations you gotta take them points. We need to go on a serious win streak cause our schedule is tuff we need to win against Carolina and KC but our divisional games is a must win no questions asked. I hope the whole coaching staff is already planning a great game scheme for Jacksonville cause any and everyone knows they're gonna blitz blitz blitz and Colts we must cover the pass and wrap up Brisset no arm tackling and pretty much the same thing against the Texans. I believe we can do it but just not confident enough because of our up and down history of being consistent at being inconsistent.
Jim: Hey John. It's not unreasonable for you to doubt the team. I get it. Heck, the team is at .500 – 4-4 – and has been far from consistent through eight games. The longest winning streak is two games. But I do think there's reason for optimism. Ryan Tannehill has provided a spark, the defense is playing well, and this is the time of year when Derrick Henry usually steps his game up. But, of course, the second half of the schedule also looks more daunting than the first half of the season that's in the rear-view mirror, too. So we'll all find out soon whether these Titans can earn your trust.
Herm Amelung from Linthicum Heights, Maryland
Question: What year did the Titans first play in the NFL?
Jim: Hey Herm. The first year of the "Titans" was 1999. It was a miracle of a season, some might say.
Renne Jackson from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: When are they going to run Derrick Henry better? Maybe go back and use some of the players when Eddie George was in that position. Does it look like we will lose Derrick next year if his contract is up? Are there any new plans that are coming up for the offensive line? What steps are being done to get Tennessee to the Super Bowl?
Jim: A lot to be determined as far as Derrick's future is concerned. Not sure what you mean about using some of the players when Eddie was in that position, though. Bruce Matthews, for one, is 58 years old. As for new plans on the o-line, the plan this week is to get everybody healthy and ready to go. This Sunday, Jamil Douglas will step in for Ben Jones. And the quest for the Super Bowl, well, that's what folks are striving for around here every day.
Daniel H from Borden, Indiana
Question: Hi Jim, My question is about the O-line. We have spent big money up front and it should be the strength of this team. But when we tried the Mike Munchak head coach experiment our O-line started its decline and has been on a slow decline ever since. I'm not living in the past I know things have changed a lot since then. But, it seems like we lost a great O-line coach because we gave him a shot at head coach. He was the Steelers O-line coach and now the Broncos and I believe he has done a good job both places. Do you think he would ever come back to Tennessee to coach the O-line again? Or has that bridge burned? If so why?
Jim: Hey Daniel. Well, the o-line is a popular topic in here today. I'll just tackle the Mike Munchak part of it. This dates back a few years back, but there was actually a time after Munchak left here and went to Pittsburgh that I thought he might come back to be the o-line coach. But that never panned out, of course. Now he's in Denver, where he's near one of his daughters, and itsounds like he's happy.
Jacob Tippens from Knoxville, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim, I have two questions for you: First off, do you think we'll see Jeffery Simmons and Jurrell Casey on the field at the same time in a true 4-3 scheme? Second, why does Henry have so many negative yardage runs? Thanks and TitanUp!!
Jim: Simmons and Casey will be used in certain defensive line packages, but it won't be this week -- Jurrell has been ruled out for Sunday. Looking ahead, I don't think you'll see the team switch to a 4-3 scheme, but that doesn't mean it won't be used on occasion. One of the great things about Dean Pees and his defense is his ability to present different looks and challenges for opposing offenses. As for Henry, both Vrabel and Henry discussed this topic during the week. It's definitely a point of emphasis – improving it, that is. Some of it is on the o-line, and I think it's safe to say some of it is on Derrick.
Chelsie Grazier from Charlotte, North Carolina
Question: Hi! So I work a sports bar called Clutch Kitchen and Pour House that's right behind the Panthers Stadium (literally a 2 minute walk) and I'm trying to spread the word to Titan fans about our bar since we will be playing them on November 3rd at the Panthers Stadium. We are also going to be having a Titan Up drink with two types of Jack Daniels in it.
Jim: Hi Chelsie. Giving this another run today after including in Tuesday's mailbag as well. Again, thanks for the heads up. Hopefully some Titans fans will see this and head your way!
Randy Porter from Hendersonville, Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim. After several weeks of watching this team and following your column, I had to share my frustration. Although my perspective may not be popular, I feel it contains some truth worth considering. For a second season, we've watched Coach Vrabel make a few unconventional fourth-down decisions, that have not been successful and as a result, not popular. This includes the latest attempt at a fake FG, that failed to produce a first down. As a result, fans and would-be analysts, have rallied in every available forum, to spout their demands for an inquisition, likened to the Salem Witch Trials. I even saw keyboard rumblings, that we should consider a new head coach and a GM. Really ?? For two decades, fans watched this team play season after season, of conservative, "smash-mouth" football, that ran the ball left, or possibly even right. They occasionally changed to snap count to get creative, according to fans. And, when there was a fourth and short, typically past coaches were safe and just punted. Fans loathed those predictable plays, the unimpressive results and the coaches who called them. They demanded change from that mundane, safe coaching, while marveling at deception masters like Pete Carroll, Andy Reid and Sean Paton. Fast forward to 2019. We now have a coach who is a risk taker at times. He believes his team is capable of getting a yard or two anytime. He believes there's more creative ways to move the ball downfield, than running off tackle every single play. He is willing to take chances that if successful, wins more games and has fans boasting about the creative genius their coach is. But, when those plays fail, fans quickly assemble in chatrooms, to tout their own coaching prowess and discuss plans for the overthrow of the coach who let them down. This week however, Gentry Estes (Tennessean) presented some interesting facts to those fans and self-appointed strategic masterminds. Estes pointed out that statistically, coach Vrabel has been right, with most of his choices. His decisions, though not successful every time, gave the Titans a mathematical edge and a higher-percentage chance of winning, period. Simply put, if a roulette wheel has 20 red slots and ten black, Vrabel bet on red most every time. And even though the ball still landed in black, I'm grateful we have a coach willing to bet on red and I hope he keeps it up. As much as I appreciate the expertise, wisdom and insight from upset fans, I appreciate Mike Vrabel more and hope he ignores the couch coaches. There are no guarantees in football, except one - No matter where the ball drops, there will ALWAYS be fans who "knew better" and "would" have bet on the winning color.
Jim: Way to close us out, Randy!
Have a great weekend everyone!