NASHVILLE – It's put up or shut up time for the Tennessee Titans.
And I'm not talking about putting up 30 or 40 points again.
I'm talking, just win a football game.
Yes, that's what is at stake on Sunday when the Titans face the Texans in Houston – win the game, and the Titans win the AFC South title.
Let's see what's on your mind as we open up the first Titans mailbag of 2021.
Happy New Year!
Here's the link to ask questions: CLICK HERE
Bill Holmes from Fairport, New York
Question: That was a kick in the teeth and a subpar performance in Green Bay. But Glass-Half-Full guy (me) says better now than in the playoffs - getting a wake-up call might be a good thing. The 2020 season has been crazy (thrash the Bills but choke to the Bengals?) and $20 million on two pass rushers brought us zero. BUT WE ARE HERE AND CONTROL OUR OWN FATE. This team has a calm and confidence that only comes from every player being in sync and I credit Vrabel for establishing that culture. Now we need to beat an underrated Texans team with a dangerous QB. Our inside pass rush is not strong, but if we frequently blitz a single DB from either side. I think we can force quicker throws while still having sufficient coverage to contain his outside scrambles and win more 3rd down battles. Your thoughts on how we stop them?
Jim: Hey Bill. Well, we're about to find out. Frankly, based on what I have seen through 15 weeks, I'm not expecting the Titans to stop Deshaun Watson and the Texans. I think they're going to be able to move the ball, and score. Heck, Watson threw for 335 with four TDs against the Titans in Week 6. The Texans, of course, have lost some of their key playmakers since that game, too. Yes, I think well-time blitzing would help. I do think the Titans should be able to outscore them. Getting some third down stops and red zone stops on defense, of course, would help tremendously.
Dan McNeeley from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim. Something occurred to me that I've seen several times on social media too. It amazes me that people don't get the idea that it's the end of the season and far too late to make any dramatic personnel changes to improve the defense. I keep seeing comments about signing someone else and I've even seen we need to make "trades for someone". We're at the "it is what it is" point now. To make any noise in the playoffs, IMHO the offense cannot have a bad series. I am grateful for the fact that we now have a team that's a contender. Yes, I was around for those losing seasons.
Jim: Hey Dan. This is true. There's a reason why the guys who aren't on rosters right now are unemployed. The Titans are going to pretty much have to win with the guys on the team right now. A reason to believe: This time last year, the Titans had lost two straight games, to the Texans and Saints, heading into the season finale, which they had to win. Things didn't look so hot. We all know what happened next. Am I saying that's going to happen again? No. But with 10 wins, and a chance to claim the AFC South title on Sunday, long-time fans like you know this organization has been in worse spots heading into the finale.
Michael Kennedy from Muscle Shoals, Alabama
Question: This is my second time writing you this year and I hope I will be able to many more. You do an outstanding job on our beat. This is more of a comment than a question but I feel it needs to be said. What a crazy year we have all been through. Everything in this world has been crazy and it has hit way to close to home. My heart hurts for my favorite city and all the victims of the Christmas Day tragedy downtown. They all will remain in my prayers. But I would like to say how appreciative I am of this organization and their commitment to the fans. I, like many season ticket members, had to make a difficult choice this year to risk it and opt-in, or stay home in safety and watch. No decision was the wrong one, we all had our reasons, but I chose to opt-in. I'm so glad I did. Everything has been first class all the way. With all the protocols and safety measures, I felt safe at every game. Everything this organization does truly makes it feel like we are all one two toned blue family. This includes you and your mailbags, The OTP, Titans Radio, and Amy Adams Strunk herself. I'm proud to be a season ticket member of such a wonderful organization. Once again thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you folks do and I cannot wait until we can all be together again. Titan Up!
Jim: Appreciate the kind words, Michael.
Steven Crosio from Brick, New Jersey
Question: Hey there Jim, if you have to compare this year's Tennessee Titans team to a Disney movie, which Disney movie would describe this year's Tennessee Titans?
Jim: Last week: Frozen. This week: Onward. After the Season: Remember the Titans.
James Moore from Jackson, Tennessee
Question: Jim, why is it that since DeMarco Murray was the starting RB for our beloved team that it seems like the Titans have been two different teams. Rhetorical question, I'll tell you why. Things are different without Derrick Henry. I didn't like DeMarco Murray or Dion Lewis and now I'm close to adding McNichols to the list. Not their faults at all, but this idiocy of taking out Derrick Henry for 3rd down has got to end. I'm no genius but when 22 on the field he's like 23 everybody's 👀. When he's absent it's like ok pass coverage. Meanwhile Tannehill fakes the ball to Henry and scores almost every time I really didn't want my first letter to be a complaint but tell him to fake it to McNichols and try to run it. But don't really tell him to do it we need our QB. Titan Up Jim and tell Art to Titan up too.
Jim: Hey James. Believe me, if you were around DeMarco Murray, and saw the impact he made on the team/locker room/culture, you wouldn't have disliked any part of him. He did as much to change the culture as any player that's been on the team in the last 8-10 years with is work ethic and approach. Dion Lewis and Jeremy McNichols don't deserve to be mentioned in the same category as DeMarco Murray. And when DeMarco Murray first got to Tennessee in 2016, he deserved to be on the field more than Derrick Henry because he was a better all-around player. When Murray got hurt the next year, Henry took over and the rest is history. But trust me, DeMarco doesn't deserve any shade. As for taking Henry off the field, well, you're not alone in this line of thinking – a lot of folks have hit me with this. I see where you're coming from, but the guy does needs an occasional break.
Danny Harris from Carthage, Texas
Question: I've been an Oiler/Titan fan since 1977. Growing up all my family were Cowboys fans and I was for any team that played the Cowboys and still am. This year's defense is the worst we've had that I know of over the last 43 years. We need a good defensive draft and hire the best defense coach possible. When our receivers attempt a catch they are fighting for the ball most of the time, when the other teams catch the ball winch is about 95 percent of the time we are 5 yards off of them. All QB's in the league are having fun with their passing game with us this year. Surely coach knows he needs help on that side of the ball. Thanks, frustrated fan that hurts all week after we get an old fashion butt kicking.
Jim: Appreciate you taking the time, Danny.
Brendan Schultz from San Rafael, Florida
Question: Hey Jim, do you think the Titans should be rooting for or against the Dolphins on Sunday? I know they automatically make the playoffs with a Dolphins loss but if both the Titans and Dolphins win, we would see them in the wildcard which seems much more ideal than facing the Ravens. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Jim: This is an interesting question. In my mind, the best-case scenario is for the Dolphins to win, and for the Titans to win. But it's going to be hard to to not want the Dolphins to lose, because that would relieve some pressure, and there are no guarantees in the NFL. Root at your own risk.
Dave George from St. Louis, Missouri
Question: Hi Jim from a die-hard Tennessee Oilers/Titans fan since game 1 that went into overtime against the Raiders at the Liberty Bowl when Eddie ran for over 200 in that win. It really was a head scratcher for me in the draft this year when we went round 1 for an OT particularly since Dennis Kelly is a very good replacement at RT. I can't help but think what this year could have been if we had gone for a pass rusher instead. I'm not giving up on us yet because I hope I get the chance to go back to Arrowhead to give those Chief fans a little bit of grief like we did when we won in the playoffs there a few years ago.
The question I have is this ... on Sunday will the noon games that could put us in the playoffs before we even kickoff be on in the locker room? I know there is a ton of prep work that will still be going on but wanted to see if most coaches allow for that? Thanks for all you do and I hope to see you in KC in a few weeks....better yet, how about some upsets and we host the AFC championship game at Nissan. Better music and BBQ than KC anyway.
Jim: Hey Dave. I'm not in the charge of the remote control in the locker room, but I can pretty much guarantee you the Bills-Dolphins game won't be on the TVs in there. Talk about a focus killer.
Kyle Bowers from Livingston, Tennessee
Question: Not really a question but more of a statement. Since we're down a kicker why not just go for it on 4th down as long as we're inside the 40? Best case scenario we convert. Worst case is they get the ball from a failed field goal attempt. Titan Up!
Jim: The Titans will have a kicker – Sam Sloman, who was signed to the practice squad in November. Sloman, a rookie from Miami (Ohio), kicked in the Rams' first seven games this season and connected on 8 of 11 field goals and 18 of 21 extra point attempts.
Matt Alcorn from Albion, Illinois
Question: Jim-Hope you had a Merry Christmas enjoy reading your responses. Lifelong fan of Oilers/Titans. This year has been refreshing to see an offense that can just completely take over a game. It has also been exhausting to see a defense that just does not seem to have the swagger of past teams. Defense has plenty of talent, they are all NFL players, and a head coach that was a special player. I would assume he expects his players to perform with a disciplined fire. This is a Super Bowl capable team. No one in the NFL wants to play Tennessee once they get a lead, hardest team to defend when play-action is in full display. Defense just needs to make early New Year's Resolution that they are going to go out, hit someone and make their presence felt. I think they still can make this the year to Remember the Titans, am I too optimistic?
Jim: Hey Matt. I'd look pretty silly if I said I think the Titans can make a run in the playoffs if they don't end up making the playoffs. If the Titans take of business like they should, ask me next week …
Lou Tomasella from Oradell, New Jersey
Question: Hi Jim. Long time Oilers/Titans fan going back to the Luv Ya Blue days with Dan Pastorini/Earl Campbell days. Given the teams dire need of a pass rush, have the Titans given any thought to bringing in Clay Matthews and/or Cameron Wake as a last resort. Without the ability to rush and put pressure on the QB, and get off the field on 3rd downs, the Titans are probably limited in how far they can realistically advance this year in the playoffs, if they even make playoffs. Thanks.
Jim: Hey Lou. This has become a very popular question in the mailbag. I get a half-dozen on Matthews a week, and at least a few on Wake. As of today, nothing doing in either.
Warnis Hightower from Rosharon, Texas
Question: Hello Jim. I know you are getting a lot of negative comments on the defense. So, here I am to add my two cents worth. For starters I don't see why Adoree Jackson is in the game at all. He can't cover and he can't/won't tackle anyone. The same for Desmond King. If any team in the league that need to blitz it is the Titans. But we are resigned to rush four most of the time. Giving the opposing quarterback all day to wait for his receivers to get free of defenders. We don't have any defensive strategy at all. Also, I don't think Arthur Smith is good at calling plays. I do like coach Vrabel and I hope he hangs around a long time.
Jim: Hey Warnis. So, if you don't want Adoree' or Desmond in the game, who would you like to see on the field in their place? I'll hang up and listen. And you can't answer Logan Ryan because he plays for the Giants. … And Arthur Smith isn't good at calling plays? Give me a break. The Titans have scored 30-plus points nine times this season, and 40-plus points four times. You think that's happening from drawing up plays in the dirt?
Jimmy Palmer from Virginia Beach, Virginia
Question: Hey Jim, that was a match up nightmare simply because of the lack of pass rush. Can't let one of the greatest sit back there and get comfortable. If we beat Houston and get in the playoffs do you seriously think we can be a contender with our issues on defense??? I'm hoping for the best. Happy holidays. TITAN UP!
Jim: Have to make it in the playoffs first, Jimmy…
Sergio Escobar from El Paso, Texas
Question: Tough loss to a very good team Sunday night. We seem to have issues playing on primetime tv. Can't put the blame on officiating or weather. Our defense has been poor all season and offense needs to do more to keep them off the field against good offenses. After 50 plus years of being a die-hard fan, I thought this would finally be the year we got to the top. All is not lost and with a win Sunday against the Texans I think we can get back on track and make that run. Titan up.
Jim: Well Sergio, we're about to find out…
Have a great weekend everyone!