I stayed up way too late watching Houston beat San Diego, 31-28. At the end of the game, the Texans were playing exactly as we thought that they would on offense, defense and special teams. They might have started slowly, but did they ever finish strong in rallying from a 28-7 deficit in the third quarter. The Titans will need a more complete performance to have a shot at winning on Sunday at Reliant Stadium.
But going to Houston 1-0 instead of 0-1 is huge for Tennessee’s confidence.
On to the questions…
Click here to see a slideshow from the game.
Bradley in Chester, Md., wonders: “Why isn’t
MIKE KEITH: It’s some of both, Bradley.
Moise Fokou has played well since he arrived in Nashville. He’s smart, intense and is a leader. McCarthy missed a lot of time in camp and is playing himself back to being ready. He’ll help this defense sooner rather than later, I believe. But for now, the coaches think that Fokou is the best option and they are going with him.
Ben from Owensboro, Ky.: “Do you want kickoffs to remain in the game? I absolutely adore kickoffs and personally would loathe it if they took them out?”
MIKE KEITH: I’m with you, Ben. I believe that it will take something away from the game when kickoffs are gone. But my personal belief is that, at some point soon, they will do away with them for safety reasons.
Johnny of McMinnville writes: “Hey Mike, the experts on ESPN and NFL Network don’t give hope to the Titans to make the playoffs. I would like the Titans to prove them wrong. What do you think about this and do you think we can make the playoffs or Super Bowl run?”
MIKE KEITH: Johnny, let’s stay away from the Super Bowl thing…way too early for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in a while. Let’s talk playoffs first. The Titans can make a playoff run if a) they play defense like they did at Pittsburgh b) the offense continues to grow and expand while also limiting mistakes and c) the Titans go 7-1 at LP Field and 4-2 in the AFC South.
The outside pundits have to go with what they have seen in recent years, which is why they are not optimistic. I get it. I also get that this is a much-improved team that could be a playoff team, which would make the Titans a surprise.
It can happen, something that I think more people now believe after last weekend.
Angie in Memphis wants to know: “What does it mean to the players to be on the practice squad? Is it like the minor leagues in baseball?”
MIKE KEITH: Angie, it is similar that the eight players who make the practice squad don’t get to play in the regular season games and don’t make as much money as the 53 players on the roster. The main difference is that eight players get to practice with/against the 53 regular guys each day, meaning the coaches and front office people get to see them every day. Making the practice squad is a huge opportunity for that very reason---you are on-site, right there at the team complex every single day.
Joe in Shelbyville tosses in this one: “You are commissioner for a season, with all power. What do you change? Rules, Draft, Schedule, Roster?”
MIKE KEITH: Joe, I wish that I had more time with one … it is the dream question for every NFL fan!
I’ll give you three quick ones…
1) Force every team to keep three quarterbacks on the active roster and one on the practice squad, even if that means expanding the practice squad from eight up to nine. Quarterbacks are the bread-and-butter of this league (look who the TV Networks run on their ads for games) and the NFL should be as committed as possible to developing quarterbacks. Hey, I’m a defensive guy, but I get that these guys make our product go.
2) Change the defensive pass interference rule to a 15-yard penalty instead of a spot foul. Too subjective a call, especially with these huge receivers who are experts at drawing the flag. I understand that some guys will grab when they are beat if the penalty is just 15 yards, but it’s still 15 yards and some of those guys grab now when they are beat. 40- or 50-yard penalties on very subjective calls like this are too much.
3) Get the schedule out earlier. Please understand that I’m not criticizing the people who do it. It’s a brutal job, almost an impossible job. They have to listen to the TV folks, the owners, the Commissioner, etc. Everyone has an opinion and everyone gets a say. But if you know which teams are scheduled to play when the regular season ends, why not get the schedule out in early- to mid-March instead of late April? By setting March as a goal, it might end some of the discussion and opinions, which would help the folks at the league office who do the scheduling.