NASHVILLE, Tenn. – What a trip. What a city. What a game. And yes, what a disappointing finish.
The London trip was everything I imagined, and more. I was blown away by the city, and the hospitality.
I was also amazed by all the Titans fans there, and I’m not talking about the ones who make the trip from Nashville, who are great, of course. I’m talking about the ones from London, from Germany, from Spain, from Ireland, from France, from Italy and beyond. And, of course, the great fans who made the trip from Mexico.
It was so great to meet so many of you over the weekend, at the pub, on the streets of London, and at the game on Sunday. Outside Buckingham Palace on Saturday morning, I met a Titans fan from Germany, and encountered another from Italy.
I think I did everything there but sleep -- I got five hours total max from the time we lifted off in Nashville on Thursday afternoon to the time we landed back in Nashville on Monday morning, but that’s OK. Some of it was self-inflicted.
The atmosphere at Wembley Stadium was Super Bowl-esque.
But, of course, the Titans left without what they wanted most – a win.
Let’s get in here and discuss…
Gareth Roberts from London, United Kingdom
Question: Hi Jim. Bit of a long one but I wanted to get my feelings out on the weekend just gone. It was an absolutely incredible few days, totally surpassing my expectations. As a Titans fan in the UK it can sometimes feel a bit isolated - like I'm the only one on our little island! But seeing the turnout across the weekend was phenomenal, and the organization and commitment from you and everyone else from the Titans was really exceptional. The fan rallies at the team pub were incredible and such an amazing thing to be a part of - meeting ex-legends, the awesome cheerleaders, Nashville natives, and Titans fans from all around the world was so cool. Also Kevin Byard is such an awesome guy - really down-to-earth at the meet and greet, and totally happy to spend time chatting with every fan. My personal highlight was randomly bumping into Amy Adams Strunk outside the pub on Saturday. I was completely taken aback and didn't know what to do, but SHE CAME UP TO ME and my friend to shake our hands, have a picture and chat to us for a good five minutes. She really didn't have to do that and I was incredibly impressed; what a fantastic lady. Anyway, I don't really have a question I just wanted to thank you and your team and everything you do for us, the fans. This team means so much to me and I for one appreciate everything you guys do so much. Also my 2 cents for what they're worth: LOVE the call to go for the 2pt conv, hate the play call. You've got to put your faith in Derrick Henry to get you 1 yard there. Thanks again Jim, keep it up!
Jim: Hey Gareth. You’re kicking this off since your city was such a wonderful host. Glad you enjoyed it as much as everyone with the team did. It seems your feelings in the UK about the end of the game match up with what some folks are thinking back here in the states... Cheerio!
Micah Layne from Coalmont, Tennessee
Question: I like going for the win but who passes from the two yard line? Then after penalty the one-yard game. DERRICK HENRY FROM THE ONE, TWO, or THREE! Come on Matt make the right call. Put your players in the best spot to win. Henry already scored in the same spot earlier. Very frustrating. And now we are playing from behind in the division.
Jim: See what I mean Gareth. Micah, I picked yours from a group of a dozen because you kept the language clean. Thanks.
Grant Teckmeyer from Omaha, Nebraska
Question: Jim. Tough loss, but I really liked what I saw from Marcus. I thought he bounced back and played very well. Marcus is only going to continue to grow in this offense and I'm feeling very optimistic and excited about his future as our QB! I'm sure you're going to get this question a lot from for your Tuesday mailbag but I just do not understand the reasoning behind the play call on the 2 point conversion try. I'm perfectly fine with the decision to go for the win. However, when you have the ball at the half yard line, wouldn't you want to give it to a 6 foot 3, 247 pound Derrick Henry or even try a QB sneak? If you can't get just a half yard with Henry, then you have a problem. Thanks again Jim! Still a lot of season left. The division is there for the taking!
Jim: Hey Grant. Vrabel said on Monday the coaches had a number of calls they considered. And he felt passing the ball was the right call as well. It didn’t work. Obviously it’s an easy one to second-guess since it didn’t. Your take has been popular among the fan base.
Connie Alinikoff from Hendersonville, Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim. Why in heavens name was a pass called on the 1/2 yard line? I'm a 68 y.o. woman and even I know that was moronic. Also, looked to me that Marcus had an opening to run. Tsk tsk. Munchak, Mularkey, Vrabel -- three Mikes & you're out!
Jim: Connie, I don’t endorse all your opinions, but I sure like your spunk!
Stan Gunselman from Franklin, Tennessee
Question: Why was the lateral past the line of scrimmage by Marcus a penalty? I was listening to Mike Keith, so I didn't hear what the national commentators said. They may have explained it. I'd love to know. I thought anyone could lateral a ball underhand or overhand to a fellow player as long as it went backwards. Please help, Stan.
Jim: Hey Stan. I admit, when the penalty was called at the stadium, I thought I was a bad call. It looked like a lateral to me. I only saw one quick replay on a small screen, and I was convinced it was a backward pass. I even served up a few one-liners. But after getting home and watching the replay several times, I acknowledge it looks like it was the right call – it looked like it was a forward pass. I’m still not sure how the official who signaled lateral ended up throwing the flag (I’m thinking the Chargers coaches yelling at him might’ve had something to do with it) but I think it was the right call.
Samantha Tayson from Fredericktown, Ohio
Question: Who sang the USA National Anthem (in London)?
Jim: Hi Samantha. It was Adrienne Warren, and she did a beautiful job. A little more about her: She’s the star of Tina Turner, the Musical, in London.
Paul Sawyer Worcester, Massachusetts
Question: Jim. Long time Titans fan but Vrabel going for two at the end of the game stumps me. The defense was playing well and the offense was moving the ball? Why not kick the extra point for the tie and go into overtime and take our chances? Do you believe this could be the last time we see Vrabel as the coach and don't you think it should be? Also why haven't they gone after any receiver available as the ones they have drop the ball a least one a week in a key situation. This team should be 5-2 or 6-1 and believe today took the heart out of the team and they now have little to no chance of making the playoffs. Thank you.
Jim: Well Paul, for starters, no this will not be the last time we see Vrabel as a head coach, nor should it be. C’mon man -- he’s seven games in. And I liked the decision to go for two. Sure, I understand the second-guessing by a lot of folks about the play call. But I liked the decision to go for it. It’s how he’s coached all year, and folks sure loved it when some of his other gutsy calls worked, from his fake punt call, his decision to go for it on 4th down vs Eagles in OT, to him going for it deep in his own vs Houston. Just wondering here: What if Vrabel had decided to kick the extra point to tie it, then the game goes into OT, the Chargers win the toss, and Philip Rivers throws his third TD pass of the game and the Titans never touch the ball again? I have a hunch some fans would be upset that he didn't go for the lead -- and possible win -- from the 1. Yes, I get the second-guessing on the play call. But as Herm Edwards famously said: 'You play to win the game! Hello. You play to win the game!' All hope is not lost for a playoff spot either – the Titans are one game out with nine to play. Plenty of season – and chances – left.
Josh Costagliola from New York, New York
Question: Jim I love and respect the grit Vrabes has to go for it in that situation. My biggest thing is our receivers! We absolutely NEED help at that position. People that think Mariota isn’t the answer need to watch this game. He doesn’t have much to work with. What are the available options for our Titans before we lose pace in the division completely? Things are looking grim.
Jim: Hey Josh. I wouldn’t use the word grim. Not in October. But there’s no doubt the team needs to start winning games, and there’s no doubt the receivers need to start catching the ball and performing more consistently. As for options, I know a lot of folks inquired about Amari Cooper in recent weeks, but I'm sure you saw he was traded to the Cowboys. The Titans also have some prospects on the practice squad, and I really like the looks of Roger Lewis, formerly of the Giants. He has strong hands and snatches the ball out of the air. The GM is always exploring options, so you can't rule anything out with him. I'm just surprised no one has ever asked me about Dez ...
Jabari Jackson from Merced, California
Question: Hello Mr. Wyatt. Let me start off by saying the team played with a lot of heart. After Rivers threw that 55 yard strike to Mike Williams my blood began to boil, but "The Boys" showed me something with the way they pulled it together in the end. Yes, we lost the game and I'm fully aware of the fact that there are no moral victories in the NFL but I totally respect coach Vrabel for having the stones to play for the win. My question is about this time share at the running back position. With what seems to be a "going with the hot hand approach" to the run game, do you think that it is having a negative effect on Henry as a runner. Correct me if I'm wrong but if I came into the season thinking I was going to be the lead back and ended up another time share much like Henry was in his 1st two years with the team, I'd be a little salty. The big takeaway here for me is if we run the ball well we will at the very least have a chance to win the game. I pray this loss doesn't change coach Vrabel's approach. This is going to be a long bye week. Sincerely, Jabari.
Jim: Hey Jabari. It’s a fair question. And believe me, I’ve heard the sentiment Henry needs more carries to gain momentum, and get rolling. But he needs to earn his carries with production, and he hasn’t been consistent for one reason or another. Meanwhile, how can you not feed Dion Lewis after watching him perform on Sunday? No matter who the back is with the football, the Titans are going to need to run the ball much better in the second half of the season if they’re going to be a contender.
Victor Reid from Nashville
Question: Hello I am interested in trying out for your football team. I am 26yrs old 6ft 8inches tall 290lbs. I grew up in Jamaica playing basketball I know I have heart size and hunger with athleticism and a crap load of determination. I am willing to do whatever it takes.
Jim: At that size, I sure woudn’t tell you no! But this is above my pay grade. If you have any game tape, I’d send it to Tennessee Titans, c/o GM Jon Robinson, 460 Great Circle Road, Nashville, Tennessee, 37228. Best to you. If it works out, I'll take just 2 percent... :)
Brandon Everett from Old Hickory, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim. Hope all is well with you bud. I was watching you (and other reporters) interview Matt LaFleur and I noticed you had a piece of white paper taped to your phone. Would you mind sharing what that is or could have been? Other than that, thanks for all you do sir, it is greatly appreciated. God bless.
Jim: Hey Brandon. No prob. That’s my list of two-point play calls -- just in case I’m needed.
Just kidding, Brandon. It’s my honey do list. :)
Hal Holman from Salem, Oregon
Question: Hello, Jim. RE the disappointing London escapade. Oucheee. Under the circumstances, I was fine with the Titans going for the “game-winning 2 points” following the last TD against the Chargers, BUT.... With the game (and season?) on the line, I feel strongly that you’d better have a sure-fire 3 yard play that you’ve practiced repeatedly for just such an eventuality--and you KNOW will succeed 90% of the time--or it’s just not worth it—sadly. Alas, that clearly WASN’T the case today—twice. Also RE Mariota’s “disappointing season” so far, granted, he hasn’t performed as well as many (and I’m sure, he, too) envisioned, especially considering the newly promised innovative, exciting, “non-exotic smashmouth football,” but once again, we haven’t seen anything close to that through the first 7 games. Still WAY too predictable, LaFleur. A puzzling puzzler, no doubt. Nonetheless, despite the lingering effects of his injured throwing arm/hand, the too frequently inept offensive line, defensive secondary and running back performances, this year’s receiving corps (i.e. specifically, the late Nick Williams (Buffalo)—plus Taywan Taylor and Corey Davis (today)--MM could/should have one or two MORE game-winning drives to his credit this year. While it’s obviously true that many factors (players, coaches, opponents, injuries, tipped passes, etc.) determine the eventual outcome, it’s also not too farfetched to say that had just couple of simple, on-target catches been made in crucial situations—see above--instead of 3-4, the Titans SHOULD be 4-3 and COULD be 5-2. Oucheee. Alas, now it already looks like it’s the AFC South championship or bust this season. That said, here’s my question: Whatever happened to “the best laid plans of mice and men?” Regards, Hal Holman, Salem OR
Jim: Hey Hal. If you can find a play that works 90 percent of the time, you should be coaching. Maybe sign Victor from Jamaica as your big left tackle?! Believe me, these plays are being worked on in practices. They didn’t just draw it up in the dirt. It just didn’t work. You do make some good points here, so I let you roll, and I appreciate you taking the time. As for the postseason questions, the team has hurt itself in the Wild Card race with so many AFC losses. The potential tiebreakers don’t look good. But the division is there for the taking, no doubt. The Titans are one back, and already with wins over the Texans and Jaguars. There’s a great opportunity still. As for what happened to “the best laid plans of mice and men?, well, I checked Amazon and the Kindle Edition of “To a Mouse” is available for just 99 cents… :)
Have a great week everyone!
2018 Week 7: Titans vs. Chargers
The Tennessee Titans take on the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 7 of the 2018 season on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018 at Wembley Stadium in London. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)