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Ask Jim: Tuesday Morning Titans Mailbag

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Well, that didn’t go so well.

After a fast start, the Titans fizzled in Houston. And as a result, some of the questions are sizzling.

Let’s get right to it…

Evan Cook from Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Question: Loyal fan from north of the border. What are the coaches thinking running a dive with your tight end on 4th and 1 on the 3 yard line? Next play, Houston scores a 97 yard rushing TD and never looks back. We have a running back in Derrick Henry who is built to pound and wear down teams, we saw it in games last year, the Chiefs playoff game being his best outing by far. Dion Lewis is electric at times, but he is better suited with 8-10 touches a game. Add on the injuries to the offensive line, including Jack Conklin not looking at all like his old self, trailing early on in games, bad play calling, and you get an offense with no identity that is predictable and can't move the ball downfield. I fell in love with the Titans watching Eddie George punish defenders. Is the solution simply giving Henry 20+ touches a game?

Jim: Hey Evan. Well, it was the hottest topic at the postgame presser. Vrabel said he felt it was a play that would work, and obviously it didn’t. Luke Stocker was stopped cold, and there’s no doubt that was the turning point in the game. The Texans scored on the next play, and the Titans never really recovered. The most popular take I got on Twitter is yours – Why not Henry? I do think he’s looked better since the bye, and he was more effective as a runner than Dion Lewis last night.

Brooks Severson from Wayne, Pennsylvania

Question: Hey Jim. How come Marcus Mariota can have a near perfect game, we’re down 17 points, and we decide to run the ball? I’m not football whiz.... but if Mariota is having that good of the game, why not let him put the game in his hands?

Jim: Hey Brooks. You and Evan are coming in with different ways to attack. Marcus did throw it around last night – he ended up 22-of-23 for 303 yards and two scores. In the second half, the Titans ran the ball just eight times. I never thought I’d see a game where the QB was nearly perfect throwing the ball in a one-sided loss, but it happened in Houston.

Walt Slaughter from Raleigh, North Carolina

Question: Hey Jim. I was among the 30K or so Tennesseans who dug deeply to bring this franchise to Nashville. So I'm a fan. I'm looking for a plausible answer to what Matt Lafleur was thinking on 3rd and 29 handing off to a running back, especially against a stiff Texans Defense. Your best guess will do. Always enjoy your commentary!

Jim: Hey Walt. Appreciate it. You’re referring to the 3rd and 29 near the end of the half, and the handoff to Lewis that went for negative 5. I just think the coaching staff didn’t want to make a big mistake before halftime (things were going bad enough at that time) – the team was backed up at their own 14. And Vrabel also wanted to make the Texans use a time out, which they did. Unfortunately they still got in position for a field goal in the final play of the half.

Darris Mays from Lewisville, Tennessee

Question: Hello Jim! I hope you had a bless Thanksgiving. My Question is Do coach know how to coach in big games? This is the second time he didn't take the points, 3 points never hurt. Our chances of making the playoffs is slim to none.

Jim: Hey Darris. I did, thanks. I liked the decision to go for the first down. The game had turned at that point, and the Titans needed to reclaim the momentum. Frankly, the team should be able to get a yard. Most folks seem to have a bigger issue with the play call than the decision to go for it – kind of like the end of the Chargers game In London.

Thomas Sircy from Goodlettsville, Tennessee

Question: Jim I just want to know when Titans fans are finally going to get a break. Have been a fan forever. We now have a head coach who doesn't know when to take points and an offensive coordinator that thinks run on first and second down and pass on third down is going to win football games against good teams. This is the most under coached team in the NFL and fans deserve better. We have coaches and players making millions of dollars a year that could care less about fans and taxpayers. I know this won't get posted but I know there is thousands of fans that feel the same way. AMY I hope you get it right one day.

Jim: Thanks for the email Thomas. It seems you are in agreement with Darris, but you’ve taken this to another level..

Matt Currie from Ottawa, Canada

Question: Hey Jim. Thanks again for all your work keeping us up to date on Titans info. Not really a question but a statement. Seeing Vrabel cost us again with his coaching is unacceptable. 4&1 and again we don't give it to Henry and we didn't get the 1st down, add the 97 yrd run by Miller the very next play. I thought we learned this the hard way vs Chargers already. The fact we all know Henry should get ball on that and our coach doesn't is a very, very scary scene for what the future might be like with our coaching staff. New or not as a professional head coach that's not a hard decision to make.

Jim: Hey Matt. Appreciate the email. Coaches always say they don’t call plays thinking they’re not going to work. This one failed, obviously. Vrabel said after the game it ended up being a bad play, while Stocker blamed himself for not getting the necessary yards. You’re right in that it was the play that turned the game. Would Henry have gotten it? We’ll never know.

Josh Clayton from Queen City, Texas

Question: Hey Jim, is it okay to start questioning whether or not Matt LaFleur is a good playcaller? I know he’s been around some great offensive minds but that doesn’t always translate and mean he can be as successful as his mentors. Watching the Texans game I again found myself getting frustrated with our inability to get into a flow offensively. We haven’t really been successful running the ball all year yet we continue to try and make it the focal point of our offense even when it isn’t working. WHY?! Can someone please let LaFleur know that it is both okay and possible to set the run up with the passing game?! Our first two drives we moved the ball well, Marcus was on time and on point with his throws, and then we come out the next drive and run into a wall two times to put us behind the sticks and ultimately kill the drive. WHY?!? Then the 4th down call to Stocker on the next drive... WHY?!? And when we’re down 21 with 8 minutes left in the game WHY do we try to run it AGAIN on 1st down?!
And Vrabel... going for it on 4th down early in the game was questionable when we haven’t been able to run the ball on them, but I assume the playcall was on LaFleur and not him. However, when we’re facing a 4th down in our own territory with about 8 minutes left, down by 21 points, and with the season on the line why on God’s green earth do you punt the ball?! Have you just given up? I realize the odds aren’t in our favor at that point but a lot can happen in 8 minutes. But when you just punt the ball away right there you are essentially tapping out. Are you worried about not converting and the score getting uglier?! Why?! To say I was disappointed in that is an understatement. One last thing... why can’t we kick Conklin inside to guard and play Kelly at RT? We need help on the OL and that could potentially help shore things up. Why, Jim?! WHYYYYYYY?!?!? 😫

Jim: Hey Josh. It must be OK because you’re doing it. I don’t think we can pin the loss and all the issues on the OC, however. The defense stunk it up, and the offensive line needs to do a better job in protection. The team was just 3-of-12 on third down. Across the board the Titans didn’t get it done, and if things don’t change quickly we’re going to be talking about the draft. A big December is coming up, and I’m not willing to concede the season is lost yet.

Ruth West from Woodburn, Oregon

Question: I want to know why the Titans are running the ball when they were down 14 points. I know they are trying to stay with the plan. But when that plans not working, they need to go a different route. I think they would have a chance throwing the ball when there down. Mariota has a great arm! Need to let him do that. Not happy with the offense coordinator! When things aren’t working, change it! I lived in Tennessee for 11 years. Am a Vols and Titans fan!

Jim: Hi Ruth. I suspect the coaches were trying to do something to keep the Texans from pinning their ears back and just coming right after the QB. Marcus was sacked six times. I understand the frustration though. Thanks for the email. Hang in there.

Stilly Sprague from Monterey, California

Question: Hi Jim. My first time writing to you. I’m a huge, long-time fan of Mike Vrabel going back to his days with the Patriots. I was also a fan of Dion Lewis before his low class gloating over beating the Patriots a few weeks ago. I was surprised Coach Vrabel would tolerate that kind of poor sportsmanship, especially considering the fact that the team who didn’t feel they could justify that kind of money for his talent is 8-3, while his team is 5-6. Do you think Dion Lewis has figured out that maybe they understand the business better than he does?

Jim: Hey Stilly. I know this was a few weeks back, but Dion was just letting off some steam after what was a big win at the time. He said the next day he didn’t mean to offend anyone – he’s just a feisty guy.

Benny Peterson from Erwin, Tennessee

Question: jim jim jim cant take it anymore. be honest jim no coach speak no media speak the team sucks can't tackle can't cover can't block coaching calls on both side of the ball stink after 11 games its obvious vrabel can't coach. why would anybody want to waste their time and hard earned money going to the stadium sunday. been a fan and supporter for all 20 years titans have been in nashville but no more this is garbage and we hear the same thing every postgame from vrabel and mariota sorry jim done with both. if i would run a business like they coach and play id be broke.

Jim: Well, Benny, you’ve put a lot out there. Not sure how to respond to this one so I’m going to let you close us out…

Have a great week everyone!

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