NASHVILLE – It's time to get back to football.
After what has seemed like a really long layoff, the Titans return to action on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. The Titans need a win, and so do the Ravens.
So, this one is big.
During the past 10 days questions have flooded into the mailbag and we're going to keep answering them in here.
Let's start now …
Here's the link to ask questions: CLICK HERE
Bill Holmes from Fairport, New York
Question: Okay, I'm stumped. When Brett Kern went down we all were reminded how fortunate we have been to have an A+ guy in that role. Then Ryan Allen comes in and eases our minds by absolutely *crushing* it against the Bears. So, can you please help me understand why (1) he didn't get the start against the Colts, and (2) instead of reinstating him after Trevor Daniel's horrific outing, we *release* Allen? From a layman's eye, after years of productive stability, we seem to be making some odd decisions in our kicking game in the Vrabel Era.
Jim: Well Bill, this has easily been the most asked questions in the mailbag this week, with inquiries about the status of the defensive coordinator position running at No.2, and more Adoree' Jackson questions at No.3. Hey, I get it. Folks want to know: What the in the name of A.J. Trapasso is going on? So, here's the deal: I've watched the same games you have. I saw Ryan Allen against the Bears, and I saw Trevor Daniel against the Colts. Daniel, as we all know, had a forgettable night. He shanked a punt that went 17 yards, and he had another one blocked. Let's get one thing straight: the blocked punt wasn't Trevor's fault. It would have been blocked if Brett Kern or Ray Guy or you or I had been in there. The shanked punt was on Trevor, although that one might've been blocked, too, if he'd hit it right. Allen, meanwhile, had an impressive average on his eight punts. But let's not ignore the fact Allen hit a few line drives with about as much hang time as a Mookie Betts homer flying over the left field fence. Just keeping it real here. The GM and the HC saw those games, too, and they also saw both punters work out. They've seen them in practices. Believe me, these guys are not playing rock, paper, scissors to decide who wins the job. They're picking the guy who has performed the best in all the times they've seen them, which is more than any of us. And these are two of the most competitive guys I've been around. When these decisions go wrong, it's on them. So they didn't land on Daniel because he's a relative, or because he's a nice guy, or because he went to Dickson County High School or because he went to the University of Tennessee, or because they prefer a guy with two first names. Well, I guess Ryan Allen has two first names, too. The reality is they decided to go with Daniel for now because they think it's the right decision, and I believe because they think he has a stronger leg. If it blows up in their face, it's on them. I'm trusting they made the right decision, because I know they're not intentionally making the wrong one, as some folks seem to think.
Sean Colon from Frederick, Maryland
Question: Will Arthur Smith stop trying to milk the clock when he gets a small lead early in games? Can we start seeing offensive play calling like we got at the beginning of the Colts loss throughout a whole game to play to win for a change instead of just get by? Also, PLEASE stop running mostly curl, dig, and out routes on every single play. We've got amazing weapons that are not being used - is he planning on changing his approach at all? Asking for a friend
Jim: Well, Sean, tell your friend the Titans were down 24-7 at the half vs the Steelers, 17-7 at the half vs the Bengals, and up 17-13 at the half vs the Colts. In the team's three losses, the problem hasn't been "milking the clock" early in games, I can tell you that. Tell your friend to start watching the games.
Steven Crosio from Brick, New Jersey
Question: Hey Jim I've been meaning to ask this but do you think Titans play better when there are no fans in the stadium say if we go at full power at Baltimore do you think we stand a better chance with or without fans?
Jim: Baltimore has always been one of the toughest places in the league to play because of its loud, noisy environment. So, I definitely think it's a positive development no fans will be allowed in on Sunday. Still, the Titans are going to have to create some energy and play a lot better than they have in the last month.
Jabari Jackson from Merced, California
Question: Mr. Wyatt how are you sir? It's the most wonderful time of the year to be a Titans. It's mid November and the weather is changing and King Henry is about to get infinitely harder to tackle. This is a cold weather team who thrives around this point in the season. 6-3 is a good place to be and with the Browns, Jags, Texans, and Lions still on the schedule I'm thinking we should at least finish with 10 possibly 11wins depending on how we fair against a Ravens team that has dropped the past couple of games. NFL world please count this team out, so we can get back to playing with that chip on our shoulder that got us into the playoffs last year and got us off to a 5-0 start this season. Remember what happened around this point in the season last year. Titan up and stop whining Titans fans the team needs our support!!
Jim: Good to hear from you, Jabari.
Franky Markle from Dyersburg, Tennessee
Question: Wow!!! What a season so far. Some highs and some lows. After a weekend to digest the TNF loss, settled in a watched some other "good teams" lose games they shouldn't have lost. With that said, I'm ready for the season ending push. I'm sure our coach and GM know way more about football than all of us emailers, but what can we do on defense to help our offense? We can't expect 17 to play like an MVP every game or expect 22 to have 200 yards and 3 Touchdowns. Seems that we outsmart ourselves sometimes. #2 what's your feelings about 10-6 or 11-5, does that win the south? Thanks
Jim: Hey Franky. Hard to say what it's going to take to win the AFC South. Both the Colts and Titans have some challenging games coming up. I think it's going to take at least 10-6.
Chris Frizzell from Round Rock, Texas
Question: Life-long fan from the Luv ya Blue 70s and for life as a Titan. I appreciate your work Jim, you even signed a Titans flag with some players for my son at a Titans / Texans game. Like many, i think not having a DC has been an issue for us, and of course a couple key injuries and some dead weight that we got rid of. One thing I feel that many people might be overlooking though. I REALLY like Arthur Smith. I think he was an amazing TE Coach, players love him and he has come up with some good game plans for us as a new mind at offense. It is my Opinion though, that maybe some of our ELITE talent has cast a promising light on maybe what has been an avg job at this role. Talks of head coaching positions next year, at one point talking OC of the year etc. When our offense doesn't click, it flat out sputters. That is hard to watch with all the weapons we have! This is probably one of the most Talented Oiler/Titans offenses we have ever had! We have the talent to make any OC look fantastic at times, but I feel the entire crux of our problem is our play calling on offense and how we react when up in the score, or down. I DO think Arthur could be a good head coaching mind but I am slowly seeing holes in his OC mind. (Keeping in mind how green he is, it's probably not fair to say he won't evolve...) he is so likeable that its hard for me to say that! I love this team, half my house is a muraled and Titans themed as well as blue leather in my white truck. I know we will get things back on track after these last 3-4 games! I believe Aurthor is good, but I also feel some of his inexperience and game plan has hurt us this year specifically. Thanks for all you do... TITANUP Jim and I hope you and yours have a Happy Thanksgiving. -God Bless
Jim: Appreciate you taking the time, Chris.
Michael Silva from Las Vegas, Nevada
Question: I'm pretty sure we're gonna lose the next two games so now we're 6-5 back to our losing ways again. I was going to wear my jersey today but I was ashamed to cause didn't want to hear all the comments at work 😳
Jim: Just don't forget your britches, Michael…
Nick Black from Rochester, New York
Question: Considering Gostkowski is pretty good from 50+ yards and not so good from less than 50 yards, why don't we just keep him around for the long field goals and have another kicker kick the shorter ones? I am sure that Vrabel and Jon Robinson have thought a lot about the 53-man roster, but maybe there is a different position that could use one less backup?
Jim: Can't see this happening, Nick. Just can't afford to have two roster spots for kickers, especially with all the injuries right now. Gostkowski is going to have to figure it out.
Dan McNeeley from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: After watching the Ravens get run out of the park vs the Patriots, I hope we can look forward to seeing a lot of Derrick Henry this coming Sunday. Sometimes I think Arthur Smith over thinks his game plan. This one looks like it should be pretty simple.
Jim: Hey Dan. I think you're going to see a lot of No. 22 …
Thomas Cowgill from Mohawk, Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim. I am 73 years old I've been a Titans man sinse day 1. They should be 9 and 0 right now what is wrong? I pray every game, Lord 1 more 1 more. I will probably never get to a home game … s.s doesn't pay that much although I will always be there. God bless u and the Titans. Your biggest fans Tom and Shelia Cowgill mohawk TN.
Jim: Hang in there, Tom! And tell Shelia I said hello!
Daniel Ferarra from Dyersburg, Tennessee
Question: Strong city, strong state, strong communities. All backed by the Tennessee Titans. The will to fight, in Tennessee is among the top in the world. And this team represents that fight. Not really a lot of ups and downs. We have always had a solid foundation, and solid players. Tennessee tough. As a believer in my community. And a believer in my state, my question to you Jim, is this; what are your thoughts on our 2020 season so far? We have weapons, we have some of the hungriest coaches in the game right now. Running backs? Mcnichols, foreman, wow, those guys are incredible. To top those powerhouse Americans, we have Derrick Henry...Mr Henry only gets better as the game progresses. We are all feeding off eachother to win games. But in my absolute opinion, it kinda feels like we are only waiting on derrick to do some hulk style, mind bending run to take us into the end zone. When all it is, is trust within one another. Derrick will break for an insane amount of yardage. But he only does it when he chips away. When we trust him. I've never seen anything like it. It's history. He gets better the more you hit him. We must use Henry!!!
I am a huge admirer of the foundation and the family. Mr bud adams, mrs strunk, and sweet Amy wells. Mike Keith, mr lance smith of Titans blitz. Home town Nashville native mr Jon Robinson, "welcome home sir" we're glad to have you back. Everything that is Tennessee Titans, is a part of me. And I'm just happy to have the chance to write about it. One more quick shout out to mr stephan LeTreal McNair "McNair"
Jim: Dyersburg is well represented today! There's a lot to take in here, Daniel. I appreciate your passion. As for what do I think about the 2020 season so far? Well, compared to last season at this same point, when the team was 4-5, I think 6-3 at this stage isn't so bad. But the team better start playing better if it's going to make another postseason run.
Chris B from Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Question: Jim… first time writer. We are all disappointed and believe with good reason. However, I will have my Big Jeff jersey ready when we head into Baltimore! Yes there are some changes needed, but 9 games in the roster is what it is. We swung for the fence with Clowney, Beasley and the kicker. Short pop out to centerfield instead. EVERYONE was clamoring for JD..hasn't worked out so why be mad. I can see the change at punter..56.5 avg vs the Bears..but all were line drives with 0 hang time. Is there a 10 sack guy or a stud kicker sitting at home?? So, the challenge is on the coaches, without a DC, to get the most out of what we have. My fear is the Colts game is a blueprint on beating us. 5 out of the 6 top tacklers were the secondary. Short passes, quick releases into off coverage. The offense has lost it's way the last 4 games (less the 2nd half of Steelers game who were protecting a lead). Load the box, play tight coverage. The Bengals game reminded me of the AFC championship..we got down 10 points, were running the ball great, but abandoned it like we were down 30?? Coaching..off coverage allowing 7 yard passes..anyway, yes we miss Casey, Ryan and Pees, but they are not coming back. Football is a business. Choices are made, and all choices have consequences, good and bad. As in business, it comes down to management (coaches) using and adapting to what they have. BTW, I would say our top 3 draft choices playing under 100 snaps combined isnt ideal. Not mad, just disappointed. Honestly, other than Buffalo, our 5-0 start could be 1-4. So I'll take the 6-3 vs the 2-7 it could easily be. We just need to find the fortitude that we had to score points earlier in the year and get the big stops when we needed them. Guess if it was that easy anyone could do. Let's rest up, heal up and COACH up and lay it on the Ravens again!!
Jim: Way to air it out, Chris!
Joe Arcudi from Merrimack, New Hamshire
Question: Well I think we can officially say the start was a mirage. It was fun while it lasted -- but let's look realistically at the "Tennessee Nine-n-Sevens" (I am trademarking that name by the way) remainder of the year.
1. @ Balt -- LOSS -- They will be very motivated to kick our butts
2. @ Indy -- LOSS -- Showed that they are clearly better in ALL phases
3. Cle -- WIN -- One of those games when everyone will count us out -- We should show some heart here and win -- however Miles Garrett could have like 6 sacks
4. @Jax -- WIN -- Again history tells us this will be a difficult game -- but we should squeeze by a bad team here
5. Det -- WIN -- tough game here as well -- If Stafford is healthy he will keep it close
6. @GB -- LOSS -- Yikes! -- the only way we compete in this game is if there is two feet of snow and the King runs for two bills...or GB decides to not show up.
7. @Hou -- LOSS -- I am predicting we will have clinched the 7 spot and sit everyone.
So where does that leave us...OH MY GOD...could it be...We end up 9-7. What an absolute shock!!!
Jim: Happy Thanksgiving, Joe.
Mitch Frescher from Melbourne, Australia
Question: Hey Mate. How's it going? What do you expect to see from the boys this week? I feel we are a very capable team but just make critical errors in the last couple weeks when we were right in the balance. What do you feel needs to be adjusted to return back to our dominance? Cheers from down under.
Jim: Hello Mate! Well, Mitch, I was feeling pretty good about a bounce-back performance until I read Joe's email. Sounds like the Titans are taking back-to-back Ls. …. Seriously, I think the Titans need to jump out and set the tone early, and get a lead. Running the ball, and forcing turnovers on defense, will be key. Cheers!
Bill Swiger from Jonesborough, Tennessee
Question: Not a question just a comment! No matter what, I bleed TITAN blue. I know this team has the skill and heart to beat anybody in the league. I will have my jersey on screaming at the TV as my wife tells me to calm down during every game no matter how far up or down we are in the score. We need to as fans buckle down and support them Win or Lose. TITAN UP BABY!!!
Jim: I like the spirit, Bill. Pace yourself and don't peak too early on Sunday!
Russell Sicard from Lockport, New York
Question: Hey Jim. As the cliche goes "your pass rush is only as good as your defensive backs and your defensive backs are only as good as your pass rush." Looking at the losses to the Steelers, Bengals and Colts the common denominator is time to throw. In each loss it was 5 step drop back and let it go. Hard for a pass rush to get there when the QB seems to always have an open receiver. Certainly getting Adoree Jackson back on the field will help as will the addition of Desmond King. That being said, the Titans pass rush has to improve. They rarely get to the QB even when they blitz. I don't think its a lack of talent, so what is it? Is it scheme? Is it effort? Fatigue has to play a part when they can't get off the field on third down and opposing offenses are possessing the ball for 7 or 8 minute drives.
Looking at the offense, its difficult to score when you're on the sideline. I think Arthur Smith has done a great job. I think he has become a little handcuffed by injuries to the offensive line. The play calling tends to get almost predictable at times. I don't see many misdirection plays to keep defenses honest and they can't seem to execute a screen pass of late.The play at the goal line where Henry lined up 2 yards back between the guard and tackle and Tannehill handed the ball to Janu Smith for the walk in TD was brilliant. When they lined up I immediately thought, "I've never seen them in this alignment before." I hope there is more of this in the playbook.
Special teams? The Colts game turned on 2 plays, 17 yard punt and blocked punt for a TD. Poor execution and a disastrous missed assignment. Every punter in the league will have a stinker from time to time and missed assignments can be corrected. Missed field goals are hurting. New long snapper, new holder, bad luck? Yeah, I guess.
I do believe this is a playoff team but with a lot of work to do to right the ship.
Jim: Thanks for weighing in, Russell.
Mark Sanderson from Burlington, North Carolina
Question: While I understand the head coach and GM are ultimately responsible for the roster, who actually makes a decision like which punter to keep? Is that weighed heavily by the position coach or straight from the head coach or does the GM make the ultimate decision?
Jim: Both of them make the decision – they talk through all the roster moves together.
Cesar Parada from Chihuahua, Mexico
Question: What is happening with Adoree' Jackson.
Jim: He's on the 53-man roster, but he hasn't been practicing. He's out for Sunday's game.
Karen Hansen from Cordova, Tennessee
Question: Thank you for taking my question, Jim. I've been a Titans fan from the beginning, so I do have a lot of memories from throughout the years. Unfortunately, I'm beginning to see a lot of the same arrogance from Mike Vrabel that was the hallmark of Jeff Fisher during his tenure with the team. In Mr. Vrabel's press briefings he gives the same responses each week and there doesn't seem to be any urgency in his tone or manner. I'm afraid this attitude is affecting the team as a whole as there isn't the same energy and enthusiasm that was there last year. I completely understand the obstacles they've endured; however a good HC would be able to lift their spirits and help them through this rough patch. My question is this - do you see the same thing and is the "Honeymoon" over between this coach and the team? Thank you!
Jim: Hi Karen. Thanks for writing in. Coach Vrabel isn't a warm and fuzzy guy in a lot of the pressers, I think we'd all agree on that. But I think he's been accommodating to media, and I know the players respect him and believe in him. I also think Vrabel inspires players with the way he coaches them on the field, and how he treats them, which is largely based on his experience as a player. He understands them. So, I guess we disagree on whether a coach should be "lifting spirits." Because when I look at the best coach in the history of the NFL – Bill Belichick – I don't see a guy who lightens the mood or inspires enthusiasm. I see a coach who is very serious and locked in on his job, which is a lot like Vrabel. Winning is what helps lead to energy and enthusiasm, and that's what the Titans need most right now.
Have a great weekend everyone!