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Ask Jim: Tuesday Morning Titans Mailbag

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

What happened on Sunday in Buffalo isn’t what anyone with the Titans had in mind. Now, the Ravens are up next, so it’s time to get back on track.

But first, let’s get rolling on another mailbag…

Dwayne Woodcock from Trenton Ontario, Canada

Question: Hey Jim, always appreciate your insight. My question to you this week aims to help me understand what kind of team do we have here? I’ve loved the Titans since they were the Oilers. I’m a life-long sports fan and am truly perplexed and frustrated with this team, particularly the Marcus Mariota days. Even in the deep dark days of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the mid-2000s, I’ve never been so frustrated with one of my teams. I knew the Leafs were terrible then. The Titans aren’t terrible, in fact, their building a world beater. How can they look so differently from one week to the next? This loss to Buffalo is eerily similar to things we’ve seen the last couple of years. The slim win against Cleveland last year, the loss to Arizona - terrible examples of playing down to competition. When will these men reach their potential?! Sunday’s loss stings. What a missed opportunity with the Jags losing!! I’m hoping, no, expecting a huge bounce back next week but again. What team will show up? Where is the consistency? Peace and love Jim!!

Jim: Hey Dwayne. I understand the frustration. I know players and coaches are ticked off, too, because what happened in Buffalo is exactly what players said they wouldn’t let happen. But that’s the NFL – it’s a week-to-week league, and one spirited win guarantees you nothing the following week. The Titans laid an egg in Buffalo because they turned the ball over and made too many mistakes. But it happens across the league – the Ravens smoked the Steelers, then lost to the Browns, who are definitely improving. The Vikings lost by three touchdowns to the Bills, then they beat the Eagles on Sunday. Mike Vrabel wants to establish a culture where those things don’t happen. He wants consistency. But unfortunately, it’s still a work in progress.

Mike Lucas from Bonners Ferry, Idaho

Question: Is this becoming a Titans tradition? Winning and playing well against good teams, and losing to lesser teams? Likely less complaining about lack of respect this week.

Jim: Hey Mike. I wouldn’t call it a tradition, but I'l agree it’s a bad habit that needs to be broken. But what happened in the past has nothing to do with Vrabel and the current team. And let’s make one thing clear here – the team was hardly belly-aching about a lack of respect. Taylor Lewan gave a provocative sound bite after the win over Philly, but it’s not like everyone was talking about a lack of respect. Vrabel shut the talk down, too. I don’t like the no-respect talk myself – especially after four games. I also don’t pay attention to the silly power rankings – they don’t win games. Playing well wins games, and the Titans need to focus on that.

Tyler Ebert from Hanover, Pennsylvania

Question: Afternoon Jim! First off, I would like to thank you for the great job you do for the Titans and the fans. There is a good reason this is the first thing I check every morning! Anyway, I among many/all Titans fans left with a horrid taste in our mouths after the Bills game... What happened to the explosive play calling from the Philly game? What I saw on Sunday was exactly what I have seen for too many years... Titans play a "bad" team after going on a hot streak, we play down to them with a run heavy and extremely conservative offense that never allows Mariota to get in a groove to win, and we lose... EXTREMELY frustrating. It seems very obvious (to me) what our main problem is: pass catchers. I understand the staff has faith in them but is there any plan to bring in help? We need it! … I love that we can split duties between Henry/Lewis and it makes sense to ride the "hot-hand" but: Henry is unstoppable when he gets in the groove (look at last season), why not feed him more? Why not run more formations with both guys in the backfield? Lastly, I feel like Henry is getting away from his North-South running style from last year and it is hurting his production....Thoughts? Thanks again! TITAN-UP!

Jim: Hey Tyler. I appreciate the kind words. I hear ya. I know fans are upset. And things are going to have to improve if this is going to be a good season. With that said, this team is still 3-2 and has tiebreakers in the AFC South. I also understand that more performances like Sunday in Buffalo will keep the team from being a contender. The Titans can’t keep turning the ball over, and dropping passes. Tackling must improve. Those are basic fundamentals. With the lead, the defense needs to get stop. Things need to be corrected. But this team has proven it is talented enough to win games, and I’m expecting a bounce back performance on Sunday. As for Derrick Henry, I thought he looked better on Sunday. He does need to hit the hole quicker, and that’s something he’s addressed, and coaches have been on him as well.

Ronnequia Christmon from Nashville, Tennessee

Question: Why Not Dez Bryant?????????????????

Jim: I get at least three of these questions every week…

Dennis Blosch from Franklin, Tennessee

Question: Jim, this is more of an observation than question. I personally feel we have bought a pig in a poke with Taylor Lewan. If he’s not injured he is generating penalties or allowing defenders to disrupt the play. Oh, and he and the line are pounding beers out of catfish at Predators games. Trust me, I am not a prude but perhaps more time training and practicing might help what we are seeing. We did just lose to Buffalo. Thanks for listening. Frustrating!!

Jim: Thanks for the question Dennis. But you’re coming a little too strong here. Pig in a poke? Lewan has been one of the league’s best tackles the last few years. It’s why he’s been voted to back-to-back Pro Bowls, by his peers -- not beer vendors. As for his injuries – he’s played in 51 of 53 games over the past four seasons, so it’s not like he’s been injury-prone. The catfish and beer reference --- you’re really reaching here. I get you’re ticked, but c’mon man…

Nick Pantelireis from London, England

Question: Hi Jim. Been following you for a long time and really appreciate the work you do. Do you know if there is going to be any chance to meet the Titans players for fans when the team visits London for their game with the Chargers?

Jim: Hey Nick. Appreciate the question. I'm sorry to disappoint, but I don’t think there will be much opportunity to meet players in London, except for maybe at the game, and that's probably a long shot. The team is scheduled to get to London on Friday morning after flying overnight, and a walk-through and practice is scheduled for Friday, along with a walk-through on Saturday. There just won’t be a lot of time. I can tell you there will be daily appearances by Titans cheerleaders and T-Rac around 5pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the Barrow Boy and Banker 6-8 Borough High Street, London, SE1 9QQ. Some Titan alumni may show up, too. I’m hearing several former players are scheduled to be there, and some staff will stop by as well. Also, 104.5-FM, the team’s flagship station, will be broadcasting their mid-day show there on Friday (5-7pm local time). So it should be a good meeting spot for Titans fans. Stay tuned for more info, and follow me on Twitter (@jwyattsports).

Chilly Pepper Fernando Espejo from Chihuahua, Mexico

Question: Hi Jim. Hope you are doing well, Chilly Pepper here with one question: Do you think that is now time to bring a WR with real NFL game time. I'm not saying Dez , or any one in particular , just a real NFL wide receiver via trade or FA available? Last to week against Eagles that big drop from Jennings that fortunately we were able to overcome , and this week the drop from Williams was a back breaker. We need a 3-4 reliable receiver, or even a good TE because Smith isn’t showing up. I think this L will affect us with the first playoff round bye week. What your intake on this? Hope to see you in London. TITANUP

Jim: Hey Chilly. Good to hear from you. Hope you and mini pepper are doing great. Well, coach Vrabel was asked about it on Monday. Vrabel said he regularly discusses the roster with GM Jon Robinson. It’s a fair question. Against the Eagles, the Titans proved they could win with the receivers the team currently has. But there needs to be more consistency. I get a lot of questions about Dez. The problem is the list of available receivers isn’t great. Could the team make a trade? I guess it’s possible. But so far the GM hasn’t been quick to make a move here, and he knows a lot more about football than I do. See ya in London!

Jonathan Wright from Bishop Auckland, England

Question: Hi Jim. Reasonably happy with the start to the season. Injuries are a worry, but good to see Mariota back under center. My wife and I are coming over from England for the Ravens game. It's a double celebration (hopefully a triple with another win for the Titans). Firstly, this game will see me bring up 100,000 miles travelling to the US to watch the Titans over the last 11 years. My record is poor, pretty much reflecting the teams form over that time frame with wins in Miami and Detroit only, but you have to keep the faith. Secondly and more importantly, just before Christmas last year my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. She's undergone surgery, chemo and radiotherapy and all of the doctors involved are happy the cancer is beaten. The trip is part of her rehab back to full health and fitness and as well as the game I promised to take her line dancing, which to her is a major milestone in her recovery, to me and others I'm an accident waiting to happen. We're in section 337, row Z seats 4&5 for the game so anybody around us, feel free to say hi to us. I'll be in my Kendall Wright shirt (same surname, so it was an obvious choice) and I'm 6ft2in, while my wife is just 5ft tall and she'll be in her pink jumper so we're easily recognizable as a pair. Here's hoping for a good result and the opportunity to see the Titans win at home at last on my fifth game in my favourite city.

Jim: Hey Jonathan. Thanks for your email and comments. I hope you have a great time in my hometown, and at the game. And I wish your wife well! If you see me, give me a shout. I’ll be on the field in pregame.

Darin Finkelstein from Chatham, New Jersey

Question: Hey Jim. The emotions of an NFL season. Feels like we went from one of the best regular season wins during the last 20 years to one of the toughest regular season losses. Championship teams need to beat the teams they should beat. The Titans have a history of playing poorly in games they should win. Hoping this coaching staff will change this. My question: Do you notice anything different in preparation when the Titans face a team they should beat?

Jim: Hey Darin. I’ll be honest: The guys said all the right things leading up to the game, and I didn’t see any concerns in practice. The team just played poorly and made too many mistakes against the Bills. Now, the challenge is to keep in from happening again.

Orlando Jones from Nashville, Tennessee

Question: Hey Jim. My question, is there a poster sign size limit you can carry into the stadium? I want to do a FOR THE BOYSS poster but don’t want to make it then can’t bring it in. Also for the fans reading this and can attend the game please show up and show out I wasn’t impressed with the crowd from the first home game I expect more fans this go around. Titan up

Jim: Hey Orlando. Here’s the policy: Signs no larger than standard poster board (28” X 22”) are allowed in the stadium; however, they may not be affixed to any part of the stadium (railing, wall, etc). Signs may not block the view of patrons. Banners deemed objectionable will be removed and confiscated. Banners or flags on sticks or poles are prohibited. I'll keep a lookout for the sign!

Clement Perry from Waxhaw, North Carolina

Question: Hey Jim, been a fan for a while! Love the new uniforms!! My questions is we know the rotation at the LB position is great. Do we have any other DLs up and coming to take some of the pressure off Jurrell Casey, who is playing lights out?

Jim: Hey Clement. Jurrell is playing great. DaQuan Jones and Austin Johnson are playing a lot of snaps up front as well, and Bennie Logan has been in the mix, too. Jones is coming off his best game of the season -- he racked up nine tackles, including two tackles for a loss, against the Bills. He seems to be coming on. Jurrell is clearly the star of the bunch, though. He shows up every week with his effort and production. Some of the others guys have been dong dirty work that doesn’t get noticed as much.

Ardie Melton from Fair Oaks, California

Question: Hi Jim. Trap game out of the way - check!
Not sure what happened to our offense against Buffalo?! Matt LaFleur went from genius to goat in 1 weeks time. (not'G.O.A.T') Of course, turnovers and dropped passes didn't help, but a whole lot of the rest of the game had me scratching my head. What happened to Mariota's legs? What happened to the RPO? I know the Titans need to protect him from another injury, but it seemed this game was there for him to win, again. Two weeks in a row, Derrick Henry has broken off decent 10+ yard runs and was immediately pulled from the game on the next play. I do like that the Titans tried to get him the ball with some space to run, but i'm not sure LaFleur sees the value in him that the rest of us do? In a game where nothing seemed to go the Titans way, and a game that we needed to win ugly, Henry seemed like the obvious choice. I love Dion Lewis and what he brings, but a 10 yard run from Henry holds a lot more value than a 10 yard run from Dion. Dion is an amazing runner, but we witnessed last year how the O-line thrives when Henry gets rolling. On the contrary, we've seen opposing team's defenses completely fall apart when he's picking up steam. Our offensive line hasn't been great this year, and as far as i'm concerned, there's not a better remedy than to start running the ball down the other team's throat. In regards to the O-line, i seem to be in the minority on Taylor Lewan. He's not a great run blocker. I understand how good he is in pass protection, but with what the Titans just paid him, he shouldn't be missing so many run block assignments. I'm glad to see Conklin back, but i think we've missed Dennis Kelly just as much. Hopefully we'll see him back this week?
All in all, i'll take 3-2 with two division wins under our belt. It definitely puts us in the driver's seat. Mariota still doesn't look like he's 100% comfortable, but i think the lack of O-line play has attributed to that. The biggest positive we can take from these first 5 games is that this is a new offense and defensive scheme with some very young players. This team will only get better as the season wears on. The last five are far more important than the first five and i feel like we could be firing on all cylinders by then. Titan Up from California!

Jim: Hey Ardie. Not sure if you wanted answers, but thought I'd let you vent. Feel better?

John Williams from Danbury, Texas

Question: Greetings, Mr. Jim. It's a long season and most teams experience a poor game now and then; however, the schedule won't allow too many goober days. Is it time to back off from the running back by committee and allow one or the other to get into a rhythm and allow the remaining RB as a situational compliment? It simply looks a bit disjointed to shuttle them in every other play or two. Finally, we were all pretty sick about the final touchdown opportunity catch - one look at the photo of Marcus' stare at Williams (no relation) is enough to scare the bajeebers out of anybody. . . I don't blame him either.

Jim: Hey John. Definitely don't need any more "goober days" as you put it. :) I’d expect to see the tandem at running back continue, but I think we all agree it needs to be more consistent. I know the Mariota photo you’re talking about, and I don’t think Marcus was intentionally giving him the death stare as it might seem. And congrats on this: I think this is the first time the word ‘bajeebers’ has ever made it on Titans Online!

Have a great week everyone!

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