NASHVILLE – The Titans are fighting for a playoff spot with two weeks left in the regular season.
The Saints visit Nissan Stadium on Sunday, before the regular season finale at Houston next Sunday.
We'll get into what needs to happen in this week's Titans mailbag, which is kicking off in 3 … 2 … 1 …
Franky Markle from Dyersburg, Tennessee
Question: Jim. First, thanks for all the updates thru the year. Second, tell all the fans that are complaining to STOP. If you would've ask any fan, Ryan Tannehill is going to start and go 6-2 in his first 8 games, will you take that result? EVERYONE would have said YES. Yes, the last loss stunk, but there is still a way into the playoffs. Go Tampa!! Go Jets!! When we were sitting at 2-4, nobody could've dreamed that we'd have the run we had and we have a chance to be 10-6. Let the cards fall where they fall. I think we'll be dangerous if the cards fall our way. Thanks again.
Jim: Hey Franky. Well, I'm sure you saw where a lot of fans sounded off in Tuesday's mailbag. Hey, I get it – some fans are frustrated. Sure, would it be nice to have a playoff spot, and AFC South title, clinched right now? Yes. And in the not-so-distant future hopefully the Titans will have teams that do that minus the late-season stress. This year's squad still has work to do. But as I watch different sites push out the "Teams in the hunt for a playoff spot" and "Draft order for the 2020 NFL Draft," it's nice to be at the top in the first of the two. Again, this team wasn't good enough early to make things easier late. But the team is still fighting and clawing, with a shot to get into January. I know a lot of other teams – and fan bases – would love to trade places about now.
Travis Monroe from Depoe Bay, Oregon
Question: Jim, not a question, but here's a fun re-write of the complainer from New Hampshire after the Houston game (which wasn't all that bad) enjoy!
Disgusting.... Out faithfulled.... Out passionated.... and Out classed…… That's a wrap on another mediocre fan. Well...… Same ole whiners. They tease us and make everyone think this year will be different -- but as usual they cry and whine in a big spot. Worse yet at home when the fans should be supportive no matter what. We all want so bad to believe but we get fooled time and time again. So disheartening and depressing. With this loss it will be virtually impossible for bandwagon fan wannabes to enjoy the playoffs. The 2-4 start was just too much for them to handle.... you had to be pretty much perfect for the rest of the season with ceaseless cheering. The Titan bandwagoners are the poster children for fickle NFL fans. well.... they can soon gripe about baseball. Travis in Oregon – Titan Up!
Jim: Oh man, Travis, coming on strong. If you read Tuesday's mailbag, you know what Travis is referring to. Hey, I don't want this to turn into fan-on-fan crime in here, but I decided to post this because I like the creativity – and the spunk. If you enter the mailbag to rip the team, then you open yourself up to get criticized, too, I guess. It's not all rainbows and unicorns in the mailbag.
Jason Wilson from Denver, North Carolina
Question: Hey Jim. Been a Titans fan for a long time. I'm hoping to get to see my Titans in the playoffs. I was curious about how Adoree Jackson, Adam Humphries, and Derrick Henry are progressing. It was clear we needed Jackson back against the Texans. With that said, if we were to make the playoffs what would you say are the odds Malcolm Butler would be able or could return? Thanks!
Jim: Hey Jason. Adoree' and Adam have been ruled out for Sunday's game. Adoree' did a little work earlier in the week, but was held out of practices on Thursday and Friday. So we'll have to see where things go from here as we project into next week. Derrick has definitely made progress. He practiced two out of three days this week, and was a full participant on Friday's session. Butler, meanwhile, is done for the year. He's on Injured Reserve and the team can only recall two guys from IR and they already used the two on Joshua Kalu and Ryan Succop, who is back on IR.
Alejandro Castro from Miami, Florida
Question: I'm following Ryan Tannenhill. If Titans win over the Saints, are Titans in playoffs?
Jim: Unfortunately, Alejandro, it's not that simple.
Iain Sneddon from London, Ontario, Canada
Question: Hi Jim. I thought the Titans played well against the Texans. There was the fluke interception and the missed kick. Huge obviously but otherwise a good game by them. I don't understand the doom and gloom. Correct me if I'm wrong but one loss by the Steelers and if the Titans win out and they're in the playoffs. A win by the Texans against the Bucs may not be terrible either as they may rest their starters. A win by the Bucs and the Titans beat the Texans gives them the division. Do I have that correct or am I missing something?
Jim: Hey Iain. Good timing. Here's what needs to happen:
If the Titans beat the Texans in Week 17 and the Steelers lose at either the Jets or the Ravens, the Titans would get a Wild Card spot because of a tiebreaker.
If the Titans beat the Saints and Texans and if the Texans lose to Tampa Bay (and Tennessee), the Titans win the AFC South. If the Texans beat the Buccaneers on Saturday, they'll clinch the AFC South.
If the Titans and Steelers both lose out and finish 8-8, the Titans would get a Wild Card spot … unless the Colts win both their final games (Panthers, Jaguars) and finish in a three-way tie with the Titans, Steelers and Colts. In that scenario, the Steelers would go because of a crazy tiebreaker involving all three teams. If the Titans and Steelers both win out and finish at 10-6, the Steelers would win the tiebreaker and the 10-6 Titans would be out.
A lot to think about, and root for, huh?
Michael Fahert from Galway, Ireland
Question: Hi Jim, my question is about the run game. What's our back up plan given that Henry is clearly not 100 percent? Despite this we still only gave Dion Lewis 3 carries for 10 yards on Sunday and his performances and production suggests he cant provide a real running threat in Henry's absence. Jonnu exploded on that run but we cant expect him to play a significant amount of snaps at RB. I expected Blasingame to get a couple carries but this didnt happen either. My fear is what if Henry isnt able to play on Sunday, what will happen?
Jim: Well, it's Dion Lewis and Khari Blasingame, and if Henry either suffers a setback or the coaches and trainers elect to hold him back, then Dalyn Dawkins could potentially be promoted from the practice squad. As long as it's just Lewis and Blasingame behind Henry on the gameday roster, I think you'll see Lewis and Blasingame share the work if Henry is slowed in-game. Blasingame is a good back – I watched him play a bunch at Vanderbilt. I think he'd do well if called upon for a bigger role. I don't think Jonnu will be a serious option in the backfield on a regular basis.
UPDATE: Dalyn Dawkins was promoted to the active roster on Saturday as Henry was downgraded to questionable on the team's Injury Report.
Bryan Hellyer from San Antonio, Texas
Question: Hey Jim. I was an Oilers fan from age 6 (52 now) in my Campbell t-shirt and went with them as a Tennessee Oilers/Titans fan all these years. I truly love this organization through thick and thin. I read your "Ask Jim" section all the time and really enjoy your interaction with the fans as well as haters when we lose.
Here is my take, playoffs or not: It has been a really enjoyable season. There have been major strides in the team and nobody can say it has not been fun to watch. I'm a huge Mariota fan (Still am...class act) but Tannehill has earned the respect of this team and us "true" fans. Henry is a beast and a perfect complement to the passing game (welcome to the NFL A.J. Brown).
How can a real fan of this team throw them under the bus after going 6 of 8 wins over that same stretch? Way too often in my opinion. We were all but out of it going into week 6 and now we have a real chance of going deep if things fall into place. My only question, can/would the team keep both QB's going forward?
Lastly, thanks for keeping it real for us fans, and again, pushing back on the "bandwagoners" who claim to be a fan only when we win. Gotta take the good with the bad. Go blue!
Jim: Appreciate it, Bryan. Like I said previously I get the frustration after Sunday's game, but I, too, was surprised at some of the backlash. It's not like the team laid an egg. It lost to a good team by three points, a loss that ended a four-game winning streak and a run of six wins in seven games. And I've said this before as well: If the Titans don't make the playoffs, this season will have to be considered a failure. But no matter what happens moving forward, the Titans have provided plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future. As for keeping both QBs, I just have a hard time envisioning that right now.
Randy Porter from Hendersonville, Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim. I meant to send this before the Texans game, however, after the loss, I'm even happier to send it now. Like everyone, I wanted desperately to win this game. I spent all week very skeptical about the true condition of Henry, knowing his importance in this critical game. I walked into the stadium, brimming with excitement and pride, for what this team has done in recent weeks and thrilled that a close family friend was singing the anthem. And, I sat in the stadium as it filled with thousands of true Titans fans, as well as the fair-weather fans who emerged, still removing tags from their ensemble. The team came up short, but fought until the end. The fourth quarter magic, just wasn't enough on this day. Yes, I've heard all the reasons for the loss, except one. The Texans are a really good football team, just like the Titans are. Put either team in the NFC East and they would own the division. But, this is a tough division, with really good teams and the Titans are finally one of them. With different kicking and a healthy Henry, would things have been different? Possibly. But what I do know is without the adjustments by the coaches and the effort by these players, we would be seeing the "old Titans" once again. That's not what I see, in spite of the rants of upset fans. I see a team we should support and be proud of and yes, I say that after this loss. I know that's not a popular position among all fans, but I think it's deserved and shared by plenty of true fans.
Jim: Good take, Randy. And thanks for taking the time.
Jericho Nelson from Rockford, Illinois
Question: Hey Jim, I am writing you because I will be attending my first ever Titans game and I am SUPER SUPER excited. I was just wondering if you have any tips and information I can have about what I am able to do before the game. Also. is there any expectations or anything I must know? I'm coming from Northern Illinois and cant wait. Thanks again Jim! #titanup from Illinois
Jim: Hey Jericho! Safe travels to Nashville. To get the real gameday experience, you should head to Nissan Stadium early on Sunday morning. The team has a lot of gameday activities outside the stadium. Here's the gameday page: CLICK HERE. Also, the gates open at 10 a.m. if you want a chance to get autographs and pictures. I can't make any promises, but if you get into the stadium I'd head to the bottom of the sections (140, 141, 143-146), where the players come out of the tunnel and you'll at least have a shot.
Terry Anderson from Glasgow, Kentucky
Question: Hello again Jim. Thanks for reading. I'm disappointed with the loss Sunday but no more disappointed than I was when we blew the first Colts game. I'm excited for the future with this team. A.J. Brown is a beast so is Derrick Henry and our defense. Ryan Tannehill is fearless which makes him dangerous. Coach Vrabel is coming into his own. Let's look at what our team has accomplished since Vrabel arrived. Huge wins against the Patriots, Eagles, Jaguars the Chiefs twice. I'm pumped up. The offense still needs to grow but there has been improvement with that group. I feel encouraged and hope this group stays together. Vrabel, the coaching staff, and the front office have this team going in the right direction. Titan Up!
Jim: I hear ya, Terry. Win that Colts game and things look a lot different right now. That one still stings. Appreciate the feedback.
Russell Nishii from Kaneohe, Hawaii
Question: Hey Jim. Aloha, first time writing. Been a Titan fan since Mariota joined the team. Was disappointed at first when Tannehill took over, but it has worked out great!! Tannehill has done a fantastic job!! The offense is exciting to watch, and the team is doing great!! Tough loss this week, but Titan Up!! We got two tough games coming up. Just watched the Saints pick apart the Colts. Brees is accurate and gets the ball out quick. How's Adoree Jackson doing? Is he expected back? Our secondary is going to need all the help it can get. How is Simmons doing? We are going to need some pressure from him and Landry. Jim, Thank you for keeping us informed. You're doing a great job!! TITAN UP!!!!!
Jim: Aloha Russell! I mentioned to Jason earlier, Adoree' practiced a little Wednesday but that was it. He's been ruled out for Sunday. Simmons, on the other hand, was added to the Injury Report with a 'knee' and he did not practice Friday. He made a big play when he batted the Deshaun Watson pass at the line of scrimmage that Jayon Brown intercepted in the end zone. He's going to be a good one. Appreciate the comments and you're right – the Titans have to put some pressure on Brees.
Dustin Shafer from Rancho Cucamonga, California
Question: Hey Jim! Long-time Titans fan out in California! Coming into Nashville this week for the first time to watch the boys take on the Saints! Was looking for any recommendations on things to do and see in Nashville and events prior to kick off we should attend! Thanks for all your work covering the Titans. Much appreciated!
Jim: Hey Dustin. You should hook up with Jericho from Illinois since it's his first visit, too. Man, the team needs to give out those first visit buttons like they do at Disneyworld! I mentioned to Jericho some things to do the morning of the game, and some tips, so maybe that works for you, too. If you're in for a long weekend you definitely need to check out the scene on Broadway. It's happening. Martin's is a great place for BBQ downtown, The Southern is a great place for steaks, Merchants is really good, and ACME, FGL House, Ole Red and Dierks Bentley's Whiskey Row are among some really cool spots with food and music. Don't get too crazy and miss the game, though. If you're looking for something more low-key on the outskirts, you should go to Gaylord Opryland Hotel and see the Christmas light inside. It's something to see. And there's another cool Christmas-themed experience at the Nashville Sounds baseball park not far from the downtown area called "Glow." The weather is supposed to be nice. Have fun!
Eli Decko from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Question: Oh wow Jim, only 2 more weeks of regular season football left!!! How about them Titans man. Anyways, let's look at one of my Favorite Titans, Jack Conklin. He hasn't allowed a sack in 11 weeks. He's one of the top graded run blockers in the NFL for the entire season and most importantly he is HEALTHY! I'm sure his health had something to do with him not getting resigned in the off season or given the 5th year option. Which is good business by the Titans. Do you get the feeling we will be seeing him opposite Lewan for many years to come? I do. He's been a true pro and most certainly earned it. Same as Derrick Henry which by now you know we all love Henry lol. This week is a great match for Conklin and the line in general considering Saints have a slew of D-Line injuries but still a healthy Cam Jordan. With Henry being limited and Jonnu Smith being the incredible athlete he is, you think there is a chance he lines up behind Tannehill and they let Pruitt and Firkser get more TE reps? I know they all play a lot but that would be an interesting scenario for sure. Anyways have a happy holiday Jim and please spread mine and my families love to the Titans not only for this huge game but the holiday season as well! Let's also hope Adoree Jackson is back this week, god knows we NEED him!
Jim: Hey Eli. It's crazy how the season has flown by. Jack has been much improved this year. You've hardly heard his name mentioned, which is great for an o-lineman. The same can be said for the entire offensive line, from Taylor Lewan to Rodger Saffold to Ben Jones to Nate Davis. Protection has been better, and run blocking has been solid. And I think you're right on Conklin – his health was a factor last year, and the extra time helped him. As far as what's ahead from a contract standpoint, well, some really interesting decisions are on the horizon. He's one of a large number of players scheduled to become free agents, and the team probably won't be able to/want to keep them all for one reason or another. It's all going to come down to whether the team and Conklin's agent – Drew Rosenhaus – are on the same page this offseason. As for Jonnu, I wouldn't expect him to start getting a bunch of reps in the backfield, but you never know what could be up OC Arthur Smith's sleeve. Jonnu sure looked like a natural on Sunday, huh?
Jonathan Easley from Washington, D.C.
Question: Hey Jim, longtime reader, first time writer. I was wondering if you have any insight into why Sharif Finch has been inactive. I thought he showed a lot of promise early in the year, and now with Cameron Wake out, it seems like our pass rush could use a boost opposite Harold Landry. What are the coaches seeing that we might not be seeing?
Jim: Hey Jonathan. Frankly, he just hasn't earned a gameday spot on a lot of weeks. He was inactive Sunday, and he's been inactive several times this season because of a decision by coaches. I think he's struggled some because he missed so much time recovering from shoulder surgery this offseason. I do think Kamalei Correa has stepped up and played well of late – he has a sack in three straight games and now has four in the last six games.
UPDATED: Finch was waived on Saturday when the team promoted Dawkins to the 53-man roster.
Aaron Krepel from Wanaque, New Jersey
Question: Hey Jim. Read the Tuesday Mailbag and I have to say, it's a little disheartening to see how quick fans are to bash our team. I heard Coach Mac say on the OTP that he loves the passion from the fans, but it sounds as though our fanbase gives up every time the result doesn't go our way. I expected to see a mailbag full of admiration for our recent run and optimism for a wildcard spot. Instead it's doom and gloom over a game that turned on a freak interception. We didn't win, but we're still in with a shot at winning the South, let alone edging out Pittsburgh. I know the players won't let that bother them, but I just wanted to agree with Eddie from last week, I'm a proud Titan and have a lot of respect for everyone in that organization. Let's get this going now.
Jim: Appreciate you weighing in Aaron. How things go on Sunday will determine the mood for this Tuesday's mailbag. We're about to find out …
Have a great weekend everyone!