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Weekend Mailbag: Titans Fans Chime in on Thursday's Loss to Steelers, Rookie QB Will Levis, and More


NASHVILLE – The Titans let one slip away in Pittsburgh.

After leading a good chunk of the way, and doing enough things to win, the Titans couldn't close the deal in the fourth quarter.

The defense failed to get a stop, and the offense couldn't find a way into the end zone late.

The result was a disappointing defeat, and another emotional mailbag.

Let's check it out…

Here's the link to submit questions: CLICK HERE.

Bobby Dreke from Largo, Maryland
Question: I've waited a while this season to chime in. I hope at the end of this season Vrabes is finally ready to part ways with Shane Bowen as DC. Our defense is back to being horrible after letting JIM SCHWARTZ leave the building again and he's now in Cleveland with the best defense in football. Will Levis should be the QB going forward, the team just seems to have more juice even in a tough loss. In the off-season we need another receiver or a better tight end to be a reliable target. Dillard was a fail so we need a left tackle. We are in limbo we're probably not going to be bad enough to get a great pick and probably not a playoff team. This team just doesn't have enough to win when they really need plays. It's so tough to watch week in and week out it be such a struggle to get touchdowns and defensive stops. Vrabel made the right move with Downing, now Bowen must go...since he's been here every team's number 1 receiver just licks their chops when they see Tennessee week because Bowens defense will not cover the best receiver Byard or not, and whoever the number 1 corner is. Also as far as personnel is concerned overall, we need more true talent instead of a whole team of tough guys. A team full of undrafted guys may have all the heart in the world but we need sum speed n IQs in there as well. The AFC south isn't a punching bag anymore. Thanks for letting me vent.

Jim: Hey Bobby. I got a flood of Schwartz emails back in September following the loss in Cleveland. I guess I'll get them from here on out every time the defense doesn't play up to par. I agree the defense didn't get the job done on Thursday night. I agree this unit should be better, especially in run defense. I can't say it's all the coordinator's fault. He's not the one missing tackles. … And yes, as a whole this team needs to be better across the board. I think we all knew when GM Jon Robinson was fired and Ran Carthon was hired to replace him some roster reconstruction was going to take place. A lot will happen in the offseason but for now, the Titans are pretty much going to have to do with what they've got. So far, the team hasn't been good enough five of the eight times it has taken the field.

Tom Meyer from San Antonio, Texas
Question: Hello Jim, well I wasn't pleased with the loss, but I was pleased with the way the team played. I was really surprised when the announcers gave the facts of how many players had been used over the past two years and how many changes had occurred on the O-line. I was taken aback when I heard this. This team has given it everything and really done well against a lot of adversity. Levis has proven he can play at this level and play well. The disappointing part of Thursday's game was how the defense couldn't get a turnover or a sack. They just couldn't seem to get off the field. The Titans played well enough to win and should have , but had too many penalty's and were not consistent enough when it mattered. I was impressed with Radunz and levin when they had to come in. The line played better than I thought they would with the Steeler's having the guys they had on defense. Over all I feel this team is on the right track and with a few additions to the d- backfield and O-line they should field a playoff caliber team. My hat's off to guy's for playing their a_ ugh hearts out.

Jim: Thanks for taking the time, Tom. This team has to figure out how to win close games more consistently. The Titans have now lost three games by a combined 11 points, including a one-point loss and a three-point loss. Those are the toughest ones to deal with.

Chris Berry from Cleveland, Tennessee
Question: Certainly 16 points won't get it done, but I thought the game was fun to watch on offense. Levis seemed to operate the offense smoothly and generally make good decisions. The defense didn't seem to make the big plays we need to win in Pittsburgh. No sacks, no turnovers, and not good run defense.
How is the health of our o-line after that game? Several folks got banged up. I think most came back in but it was hard to track if there was an injury mixed in that might be more serious.

Jim: Hey Chris. The o-line is banged up. It was crazy seeing so many guys go down in-game. Time will tell on some of these guys – Nicholas Petit-Frere is the only guy who didn't finish. I talked to him in the locker room after the game and he said he's going to work to get back as soon as possible. It does sound like Chris Hubbard could be back against the Buccaneers.

Joe Tanaka from Aeia, Hawaii
Question: Levis' stats were in the win column at Pittsburg despite the poor offensive line protection. Sure looks like we could have used Kevin Byard's play calling. What's your thoughts Jim.

Jim: I thought Levis performed well for the most part. I've been impressed. As for Kevin Byard, he didn't "call the plays" when he was with the team, and the Titans struggles on defense weren't on the back end in Pittsburgh. The biggest issues on defense were related to terrible run defense, and getting very little pressure on the QB. And let's not pretend the Titans were air tight in pass defense with Byard through six games.

Jeff Martin from Friendswood, Texas
Question: Jim. 3 straight runs at the 50 yard line in the 4th down by 4? Lol. What are we doing man.

Jim: Can't say I was thrilled with that sequence either, Jeff. Titans had a chance to make up for it, and didn't.

Terry Anderson from Glasgow, Kentucky
Question: Hello Jim hope you are well and you get a few days off during the mini bye. I'm excited for the future Will i played well but is definitely a rookie. He played well against a great defensive team coached really well in Pittsburgh. At 3 and 5 now we're in the range of picking in the top 10 in the draft which is awesome since we are looking for draft capital. It would be really cool to get Marvin Harrison Jr to Nashville with Will. I'm not sure why Derrick is not on the field with the game on the line. With one timeout and 52 yards to go why not put Derrick on the field. He ran 99 yards against the Jaguars and 75 yards on screen pass in the past. I understand it's not traditional or maybe the analytics say you shouldn't run. They were in prevent Levis from throwing it behind us defense and that means extra defensive backs or dime packages on defense. We want dbs trying to tackle Henry. Put him go 4 vertical and throw it the flat and watch Derrick work. Especially on first down with the timeout. Time to play chess instead of checkers. Some possibilities that are better than hey rookie don't mess up. Hope Burks is ok. He had that concussion last year in Pennsylvania. Hopefully he has no ill effects from it. Have a great weekend and Titan Up. Tampa Bay here we come

Jim: I agree Levis has looked good. I'm not on board with playing for draft picks or positioning at this point – 3-5 is nothing to celebrate, especially when probably three of those games could've been wins.

Dawn Sadler from Memphis, Tennessee
Question: Hello Jim. Thank you for always listening to the fans questions and concerns..
I just have a comment. I think that the first item on agenda in off season is to fix the O-line. I know that everyone is trying out there and giving their best, but the O- line has issues that need to be fixed. That seems to be the main concern for this team. I think Will Levis did a great job and I would like to see him be healthy without injury since he may be our QB for the future. He needs a stout O- line to do that. Please pass this along to Ran Carthon and coach Vrabel. Have a good week.

Jim: Thanks for taking the time, Dawn. And, I agree with this.

Matt Mitchell from Los Angeles, California
Question: First let's point out the Herculean effort by Levis. It's nice to see someone lead and play with confidence around a team and coaches with some concerning leadership deficiencies. Did I see our OC literally hiding behind Vrabel during the game? I'm pretty sure I did. I also felt like we copied the Steelers offensive style and brought no confidence or creativity to the game. I don't know about you, but I'd like to see someone on the sideline break a clipboard, turn red in the face, or otherwise care about the game result. RIP Bobby Knight.

Jim: Levis wasn't perfect, but I thought he once again played with poise and played well enough for the team to win. He has a strong arm, was accurate, and I like his moxie. Yeah, he missed some throws and made a few bad decisions, but that's all part of adjusting to the NFL – he's played in two games. … I think you're imagining things if you think the OC was hiding behind Vrabel. Are you really serious with this take? And while I do think the offense got conservative at critical times, there was imagination, and plenty of throws downfield.

Chuck Rhoten from Kingsport, Tennessee
Question: Disappointing loss, defense did not play well at all. We just can't cover anyone and our line did not play as good as normal. Dillard does not need to be on the field at all, Watt made PETIT-FRERE look awful when he was in. When Hubbard returns do you think Radunz will be given a chance at LT? I would not even mind Duncan in front of Dillard or PETIT-FRERE. I think Levis played another good game. He might have made some bad decisions, but the offense looks better with him and Henry in there. We need another WR and TE to step up and get open. Philips did on one drive but needs to do it more consistently.

Jim: The defense needs to step it up. Run defense hasn't stood up in too many games. Watt makes a lot of guys look bad, but I wouldn't say he dominated this game like others I've seen. … I thought Levis played well. Yes, a few mistakes, but again, the kid can play.

Tyler Ebert from Hanover, Pennsylvania
Question: Hey Jim! As always, thank you for keeping us fans in the loop with your great coverage.
It felt like this was a must win game and we just couldn't get it done.... We can bash the oline and play calling all we want but, I feel like they played okay (at best) for going against such a talented front especially with our guys getting banged up all game long. Not to mention, our secondary play continues to be suspect and our run defense seems to have fallen off lately... However, this loss felt very different from past losses - we can, and should, find solace that we have found our QB of the future. With all the cards stacked against us, Will "The Mayo Man" Levis played a confident and composed game pushing the ball downfield and standing tall in the pocket in the face of adversity. I hope that the coaching staff can acknowledge this and hand the keys over to Mayo Man for the remainder of the season - the reps will only add to and expedite his growth and give us a great shot at putting together a solid team next season. I'm not bailing on this season yet as we still have a shot to sneak into the playoffs as a wild card but, it certainly isn't looking promising...
Fast forward to the offseason, I hope we address our glaring needs with solid Ran draft picks and good FA pick ups with all that cap space that we will have: Oline, WR, and secondary. Give the offense better blocking and another receiving threat outside of DHop, plus shore up that pass defense and we could have something special. One last note, PLEASE bring The King back!
Not giving up hope but, it feels good to be excited for the future for a change! TITAN-UP ladies and gentleman!!!

Jim: Hey Tyler. I don't agree it was a must win. With nine games left, there's still time. I do agree the Titans are in trouble, now forced to dig themselves out of a hole. The Jaguars did it last year – they got on a roll, and they ran with it. Unfortunately, these Titans just can't seem to be able to sustain any kind of momentum. … It's going to be interesting to see what the head coach and OC decide at QB when Ryan Tannehill is healthy. I know what I would do. … I'm going to worry about the offseason in the offseason.

Michael Schlitz from Columbus, Ohio
Question: Good morning Jim and hope you had safe travels home.
I enjoyed watching the game even though we didn't get the win. I love the battle between these teams and them wanting to be physical.
My question is, why do you think Chig Okonkwo hasn't had the breakout performance we thought he might have? Knowing there has been some consistency issues along with dropped balls, but do you think it has more to do with him being used as a blocker to offset the offensive line struggles?
The team needs a lot of players to step up more, but curious on your take on Okonkwo?

Jim: Thanks, Michael. I wish I knew the answer to this. But, you're right, Chig hasn't lived up to the hype this year. He's a hard-working young man, and he's talented. But he hasn't taken off like many hoped, has had some costly drops, and just hasn't made a huge impact. The coaches will keep working with him, and Chig needs to keep working.

Mike Sorey from Medical Lake, Washington
Question: Hey Jim. Thanks again for all you do! Waited to write until after this game. This game was a game that what stood out most for me was coaching! Vrabel should be gone! No in game adjustments on defense, thought he was a defensive guy? Finally we got a QB that can sling it and after 2 games he can't even bring himself to give this kid the credit he deserves. Non motivator, and never holding anyone accountable! If I was Amy and was watching Henry being under utilized again I'd make the change. Are we the only team that takes their best player off the field when the game is on the line? We let him throw and let him catch the ball just not when we need him most? Running the ball on 3rd down when we need a touchdown? This game is on the coach! The losses pile up and we need a change! Don't worry I'm not leaving this fan base like some. I mean how do u drive by a train wreck and not keep looking at it! What are your thoughts? Thanks again Jim!

Jim: My thoughts? It sounds like you're a little emotional right now, Mike …

Daryl Stjohn from Panama City Beach, Florida
Question: That was very sad are o line is a joke are def can't stop anything we made a very sad offense look very good picket could have had all his ribs broken cause we didn't hit him except to get a penalty I feel bad fir will he looks to be a very good qb but the titans can't help him at all I don't care how many games are left we should just stop playing even though it kinda looks like we are don't just that FIRE EVERY COUCH that third down draw play just before the half is the most sad and pathetic thing I have ever seen hire some real coordinators it's a joke how bad we have got a few years ago we almost went to the super bowl we can't even win 2 games in a row I've never seen such a sad secondary they never ever ever ever look back for the ball if a rb or tight end catches the ball they have 8 yards before a titan even touches him and then the fir sure are not bringing him down I would say I'm ready for the draft but that's a joke in its self with are great team of experts so to Amy please FIRE everyone plus next time we play the steelers I'm selling everything I own and putting it all on them I'm going to be so rich until next week when we start are 8 game losing streak the only kind of streak we know how to do

Jim: A lot in here, Daryl, with the exception of periods…

Douglas Wiggins from Kettering, Ohio
Question: Jim, another winnable game that goes by the wayside. I guess Vrabel/Kelly forgot about the poor play calling that led to a losing season last year. They had a good shot at winning until they ran three straight runs on that second last possession. You need a touchdown so you need to put the ball in the air. I'm a long time Texas Ranger fan so I finally get to celebrate a championship, too bad the Tians look like they are a long way from that celebration.

Jim: Congrats on your Rangers, Douglas.

Peter Palmer from Miramar, Florida
Question: Hi Jim. That was a tough loss against the steelers our old nemesis back in the Oilers days. We've finally got our Franchise qb in Levis. My only draw back was our offensive play calling in particular in the 4th quarter with under 5 minutes to go . Kelly is somewhat limited in his drafting up plays. Why not have a mixture of run and pass with Henry lining up in the backfield keeping the steelers defense honest 4 minutes with the right play calling and formation is more than enough time to drive down the field to win the game. Kelly has to go and if Vrables doesn't want to let him go, in that case it's time for Vrabel to go as well. Keep up the good work Jim

Jim: A tough loss for sure, Peter.

Evan Tatum from Portland, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim. We can all agree with the fact that that was a very annoying game to lose. I've said this alot here but this really felt like a winnable game. Just shooting ourselves in the foot and some bone-headed play calls on both sides of the ball is what lost this game. But hey, at least Will Levis showed that last game was no fluke. On the road, tough pass rush with a banged up o-line and he was essentially one play away from winning the game for us. Just gotta get healthy and prepare for Tampa Bay with this mini bye.

Jim: I think everyone agrees with this assessment, Evan. And several folks in here sound annoyed…

Darris Mays from Carrollton, Texas
Question: Hello Jim. I pray all is well! I would like to think it's time to focus on our future. Our Rookie QB is good enough to win games, so now it's time for Our head coach to open his eyes, and except we're not going to win any road games. I think we should trade our defensive coordinators and offensive coordinator to the trash can. All we had to do was blitz #8 and you win the game. Flare your running back out in the flat, it was opened all night. They took away our best receiver, and you couldn't come up with any other plays, to free him up. High school play calling. Forgive me for being rude. I believe our season is over. We have our QB now let him play the rest of the season, and make Malik willis QB #2. Let these young guys have it. If things changes then move Tanny up to QB #2. Have a blessed day.

Jim: Have a big day, Darris.

Morris Lewis from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: Jim, I thought the Titans played a good game on Thursday. There was never a point until the last 6 seconds where I thought we didn't have a chance to win, and that was with lots of our "name" players out with injuries. There were obviously mistakes which led to the loss, but the Titans were just as obviously giving everything they had to give. The playoffs look like a long shot now, though, so my question is what is the feeling amongst the team about giving dinged up players time to heal and letting the guys who replaced them on Thursday get some reps to see if we have replacements already on the roster for guys we're losing next year to free agency?

Jim: Hi Morris. No doubt the team played hard. And, this team is going to continue to play to win for this season. I still think there's time for the team to start stacking some wins, and potentially get back in the playoff race. If the Titans drop the next two games and drop to 3-7, then it's going to look really bleak. Still, the head coach is only going to play guys who earn their opportunities, veterans or rookies.

Matt Montanaro from Vaughan, Ontario, Canada
Question: Hey Jim. I think we all our kicking ourselves after the Steeler loss. That was a winnable game. Levis is looking good and made some real smart plays and was steady considering it was only his second start and on the road in Pittsburgh. He deserved better. I thought the coaching staff let him down and more specifically, Tim Kelly. I think everyone is questioning is play calling this morning. How do you call an inside handoff on third and four when you have been watching the Steeler defense swarming the inside the whole game? More telling is Vrabel's facial expressions and body manner. I questioned the appointment of Tim Kelly earlier this year and I think most football pundits questioned it. When are we going to bring in the proper talent on staff to support Vrabel? We should have won in Pittsburgh and I place this loss squarely on the shoulders of coaching staff.

Jim: No one is safe in here after a loss. On Monday, Tim Kelly looked like a genius for his gameplan vs the Falcons, and getting Levis ready for his first NFL start. A few days later, folks are calling for his job. Shane Bowen was the subject of criticism at the start of this mailbag. I get it – I know it's probably like this in a lot of NFL cities because fans love their team. But what a difference, in this case, four days makes.

Jeremy Rodriguez from Winchester, California
Question: Jim, first and foremost, wishing Treylon Burks all the best and a speedy recovery. Can't wait to see him back on the field.
Now, Levis looks great! There were some rookie things he can work on and maybe not force it to D-Hop so much. The second to last offensive series was not a series built for success. Offensive line has to be a priority to fix sooner than later. Levis is that dude, now gotta keep him clean. Secondary looked lost at times without the leadership of KB. Little more time to rest up and off to Tampa. Have a great week Jim and as always TITAN UP!

Jim: Sounds like Burks is going to be alright. He's in concussion protocol, as the head coach mentioned on Friday. And, it sure looks like Levis is going to be just fine, too…

Have a great weekend everyone!

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