NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The three-game losing streak is over.
The Titans ended it – and picked up some momentum – with a Monday Night Football win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Now, things get even tougher – the New England Patriots are headed to town.
But first, another edition of the Titans mailbag …
Nick Gregoire from Yankton, South Dakota
Question: Hi Jim, I’m the biggest Titans fan here in South Dakota! I’m going to the Titans vs Patriots game. Here’s my question: Why don’t we throw deep passes more? I think allowing Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor to try and catch the defense off guard by going deep instead of doing 5 yard slants? And finally why do our cornerbacks play off opposing receivers so far? I would think letting Malcolm Butler play press would allow him to use his physicality at the line more, but I have faith in Dean and Coombs! TitanUp and can’t wait to be in Nashville!
Jim: Hey Nick. Appreciate the email, and I hope you have a great trip to Nashville. It should be a fun weekend. Well, everyone loves the deep ball. The Titans have picked their spots – Darius Jennings caught a deep ball vs. Dallas, and he was the target earlier this season vs. the Eagles. Marcus Mariota has improved in that area. Taylor and Jennings are the burners of the group, while Davis and Tajae Sharpe are more dirty work, across the middle guys. Cameron Batson can run, too. I’d expect to see some shots from time to time. As for the corners, they’ve all worked using different techniques, and it hinges on the matchups. Stay warm out there! Winter is coming.
David Tonner from Clarksville, Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim. I have more of a comment then a question and I'd like to get your opinion. I think that we are just now starting to see a healthy Marcus. I was of the opinion that he has not been 100% since his injury in his second year. I think that is the reason he spent so much time on his foot work during the off season. Then the nerve injury in the first game. I believe the last 2 games is the first time he has been close to 100% this year and I'm hoping this is the Marcus for the future. Like to get your thoughts. Thanks.
Jim: I agree on Marcus, and I think him finally shedding the glove on Monday night was further proof. There’s no doubt this injury impacted his play. While some questioned his toughness early, I watched practices where he threw floaters, and lacked zip on the ball. He was off target on a lot of his throws. He’s worked through it, and it looks to me like he’s back to 100 percent, and that’s a great sign moving forward. He sure played well vs. the Cowboys.
Brandon Lui from Honolulu, Hawaii
Question: Aloha Jim and Mahalo for keeping all the fans here in Hawaii up to date you’re doing a great job! To be honest I haven’t been a long-time fan, but became one when our beloved local boy became your teams QB.
My question to you is did you get the chance to watch the ESPN Monday Night telecast? That was borderline unprofessional and disgusting. The commentators were so anti Marcus Mariota from the start and it took them to the 3rd quarter to finally switch and realize that Marcus was clearly the better QB that night. They kept calling him a young QB in the league when he has one year on Prescott and they never said one negative thing about Prescott. A lot of is here on the islands are pissed that was horrible and we think the commentators owe Marcus an apology if you watched it what do you think?
Jim: Well, Brandon, I’ll just say this isn’t the only email I received on this subject. Some took offense to the surfboard graphic as well. I think it’s safe to say Mariota quieted some of his critics that night, though. Aloha.
Ed Blackwell from New Britain, Connecticut
Question: Hi Jim, I'm not going to tell you to tell the coaches how to do their job like some of these posts do, but I am trying to go 2 for 2 here and get my question answered again lol. So now that the trade deadline came and went, do you know if we showed any interest in anyone but just couldn't come to an agreement on price? One more question, in your honest opinion, after a shaky start, do you see us turning it around and making the playoffs 2 years in a row? Texans seem to be stepping their game up and the other teams in the division aren't too far behind, it's still up for grabs. I think after the conference losses we suffered from before the bye week, a wildcard spot may be out of the question.
Jim: Hey Ed. Fair question. I’ll say this: Yes, I believe the GM was in on a lot of guys, and I’m talking all the way back to Amari Cooper. Leading up to the trade deadline, I feel safe in saying he inquired about several receivers, and was in the conversations. Ultimately, the decision was made to stand pat, largely because of the price tags, and what it would cost in terms of draft picks. As for where this team is headed, I think the past two weeks have proven this team is playing some good football. But the challenge is a big one this weekend, where the second half starts. The Texans have definitely turned it on, and the Titans are going to have to do the same as well. And as other teams have come back to the pack in the AFC, Wild Card spots aren’t unattainable either. Winning the AFC South is the goal, however, but it all starts with New England on Sunday.
Thomas Mueller from Dusseldorf, Germany
Question: Hi Jim. What is your opinion regarding Malcolm Butler? I see MB as a very good CB, but currently he seems to try to create a big play every time, instead just doing "his job" with covering down the field. ... I got the team with a season .500 and no playoff spot, I was right with 9-7 last two seasons... I hope, I will be wrong this year (while the Team gets a 10-6). Greetings from Germany - greeting to all Titans fans (esp. those I was able to meet in London)
Jim: Hey Thomas. I can’t sit here and say Malcolm’s been great, because he hasn’t been. He’s given up too many big plays, and he hasn’t resembled the guy who was so effective with the Patriots. I think Malcolm would tell you that himself. I know he's said it in the locker room numerous times, as recently as Thursday. A few weeks back, he said he went back and watched film from his rookie season, just to see what his game looked like when he had the hunger he needs. I do think he’s capable of getting it back. I don’t think it’s a case of him mailing it in after getting paid, or him forgetting how to play football all of a sudden. The Titans, of course, would like to see him rebound ASAP. So would Malcolm.
Darin Finkelstein from Chatham, New Jersey
Question: I’ve been a fan of the team for 40 years and this is typically the type of game the Oilers/Titans play well in and find a way to win. Usually comes down to a field goal in the 4th quarter. Hoping for the big win to give momentum for the second half of the season. My question: during the first half of the season which position group has made the most improvement? I am thinking D-line or linebacker but curious to get your take. Thanks. Darin
Jim: Good question. I’m going to say inside linebacker. I think Jayon Brown has been one of the best defensive players on the team – he leads the defense in sacks and tackles. And I’ve seen improvement from Rashaan Evans. Veteran Wesley Woodyard has also been steady, and productive. It’s a good group, and I’m expecting the young guys to keep getting better.
Thomas Kelly from Ballymoney Northern Ireland
Question: Hi Jim I'm tHøMaS and I'm a Titans fan from Northern Ireland. I went to the Chargers game and was very impressed! My question is about a rugby union star Christian Wade. He is making the switch to NFL do you thinks he'll be good enough? What position would he play? Could you convince him to join the Titans? Maybe he could fit the WR void? Thanks a lot Jim - you’re a legend!
Jim: Hey Thomas. Appreciate the kind words -- you're too kind. I just checked out Christian, and he looks like a beast. I’m not sure of the chances in Tennessee. I can tell you Titans coach Mike Vrabel was asked about rugby players making the transition to the NFL while the team was in London, and this is what he said: "Rugby is new to us, but I understand the sport. It's played at my son's high school and some of his friends on the school's football team play. It seems that there is some carry-over (between the sports). But at the professional level it is a lot more difficult. … I played with a guy who was a national champion wrestler and in a few years they made him an offensive guard and he protected Tom Brady for nine seasons. So it can be done. You just have to find the right position. It takes time. You can't just make the transition and then in three months you're a starter. But in the NFL we have practice squads and different things to develop players, that don't force you to have him in the active roster."
Petter Lino from Lahaina Hawaii
Question: Aloha Jim. I’ve been fan since the golden era of Steve McNair/Eddie George and forever will be Until I Die!! Before my question I notice in the Dallas game we were very efficient on our screen pass play which I really enjoy watching Dion Lewis running it cause he so shifty and quick it a defender nightmare . My question is with Derrick Henry off to such a slow start why don’t the coach get him more involved with a screen pass play? He’s fast, quick and big. I mean, if you watch some of his tape in his first two year most of his TD came from screen pass. I just believe he deserves couple screen/swing pass out backfield to get his engine started. Mahalo
Jim: Mahalo Petter. There’s no doubt Lewis is capable. We’ve seen it, and he’s been very effective. He’s so good in the open field. I don’t think we can rule out Henry getting a chance moving forward. He’s made some plays in the screen game himself in his career. I remember one against the Jaguars in the regular season finale last year that went for a TD. Stay tuned on this one.
Brandon Tilley from Bristol, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim, what a game, right!? Couldn’t be more proud of my Titans! But I'm a lifelong fan and have never written to your mailbag before but I read it every week and love all that you, Mike, and Amie do for us fans! First off just wanted to vent by saying everybody is saying how the Cowboys did this wrong or that wrong to lose the game. Reality check, we won and they lost because Mariota looked like a top 5 QB, our receivers were playing at a very high level, Dion was playing like a pro bowler, and our defense looked like a Super Bowl-caliber defense. Now on to my question. I personally loved what Byard did after his game changing interception along with many other fans. Why do you think Coach Vrabel had such a problem with it? I know it may not have been the classiest thing to do but I love when I can see our players getting fired up and it definitely got the whole team playing at another level and changed the momentum of the game. I don’t want our players to feel like they can’t have a big celebration after a huge play. I love how KB plays with so much heart and passion and I don't want that to change. Just wanted your opinion. Thanks!
Jim: Hey Brandon. They’ve patched things up, and are good now. Vrabel had a problem with it because the team has preached a team-first mantra, and he thinks it turned into an individual moment when Byard ran to the star. It took away from the team, in Vrabel’s eyes, not to mention it opened up the possibility of Byard being penalized, or it leading to a fight. Byard did get fined 10 grand. I’m not surprised Vrabel got worked up over it. Let’s be honest—he couldn’t publicly say he approved, even if he got a kick out of it. I’m not saying Vrabel was bluffing. I’m just saying he reacted exactly like I thought he would.
Mark McCullough from South Padre Island, Texas
Question: Dear Jim. Man what a couple of weeks since the Baltimore debacle. The team came back and played like the gritty fellas we know they are. The D is really playing hard. I loved Kevin Byard's Monday night dance on the Star, but I'm an Okie and a Titans fan so a little biased. I'm thinking there are some real Texas folks on the Titans team that might have something to say about it, like his boss Amy Strunk, Brian Orakpo (man wouldn't want to disrespect that dude), and probably others. I hope he doesn't get into too much trouble over the incident because the play he made was a game changer, but in the future I hope he takes into consideration the symbolic meaning of such things and plans his dances accordingly. Enough of that. Next up NE. What’s is it going to take sir to beat this team? The boys can't start shaky like in Dallas. This is where the Titans have always played the hardest, looking up at the Goliath in front of them. I have high hopes for Sunday, just play good fundamental football and keep the ball out the hands of Brady as long as possible. Thanks again Jim for keeping all us Titan fans down here in Texas up to date with the Team. TITAN UP!!!!!
Jim: Hey Mark. Good to hear from you again. What’s it going to take to beat New England? It’s going to take a complete effort. Not only are the Patriots really good, they’re getting healthy and the Titans are facing them on a short week. Getting a few turnovers would help a defense that’s playing well, but the offense is going to have to do its part as well. I know I’m looking forward to it – it should be a fun Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
JT Walston from Big Spring, Texas
Question: Hey Jim, first-timer here. I've been an Oiler/Titan fan since before the Oiler brown bag days. It was terrible but I hung in there. My question: Why are the Titans wasting away a bruiser running back in Derrick Henry? I have seen many bone-headed moves over the years, but this one is "I'm speechless". It looks likes they are waiting until next year to trade him while his stock is still excellent. I may be wrong and I hope I am. Derrick is a work horse. He has to have more than 2 calls to show what he can do. Please let me know what you think. Thanks for your time and enjoy your Q&As. JT
Jim: Hey JT. This continues to be the most popular question in the mailbag each week. I squeezed two in, and left probably five more out. It’s the coaching staff’s decision obviously, and the OC and head coach have been asked about it. I’ll just say this: Henry needs to play better when he gets opportunities – he’s said this many times himself. Plus, the way Lewis has been playing of late, he’s a tough guy to take off the field. He's been outperforming Derrick in my opinion. I do think Derrick performed well when he had opportunities on Monday night, and perhaps that will lead to more chances. Have a good one.
Bradley Fields from Phoenix, Arizona
Question: Hi, Jim! I'm originally from Nashville and proudly representing the Titans out here in Phoenix. I loved seeing the all white uniforms featured in that glorious Dallas road win. Any insight into how teams determine what unis to wear and why there isn't more white Nike or on-field Titans apparel available to fans? Thanks!
Jim: Hey Bradley. The home team gets to pick which jerseys they want to wear each game, and then the visiting team falls in line. Dallas has decided to wear blue at home a few times this year, so that’s how the Titans ended up in white. And I agree – the all whites looked good. I’m not sure why more isn’t available to fans. I’m thinking it’s probably because fans prefer the home unis, but I could be wrong on this… On Sunday, the Titans will break out a new look in the new unis -- navy blue jerseys, and light blue britches!
James Richardson from Cottondale, Alabama
Question: Hey Jim. I'm absolutely love Mariota and so naturally my question has to do with him. Doesn't it feel like almost every week and especially in prime time games that the announcers start with the same misconception that Mariota isn't a good pocket passer? Saying he needs to get better in the pocket to succeed. Could it be that they just don't bother to study his play or am I missing something here? Because it seems to me throwing from the pocket is where he's best. He proves them wrong but the very next time the announcers seem to forget. Is this just a case of them just assuming because he is so good at rushing they lump him in with the stereotypical athletic QB? Because he isn't like most fast QB's he is a passer first and only running when absolutely necessary. Sorry that was actually a couple questions.
Jim: Hey James. Appreciate the question. Well, I know that’s happened in the past. Marcus has definitely improved from the pocket, and those who think he’s limited there simply haven’t watched him play enough. Sure, he’s athletic and he can tuck it and run, but he’s proven he’s more than just a running QB. Of course he needs to play more consistently. That’s been the problem of late, putting together a run of stellar games. I think he’s had back-to-back good ones vs. the Chargers and Cowboys. Now he needs to keep it going.
Warnis Hightower from Houston, Texas
Question: Forever Oilers and Titans fan. Really expected this year to be special. After last year's 5 and 1 divisional record. I really expected us to go places this year. I still think we are the best team in the division. I wish we could get a little better play out of the OL and the DL. We need to get more pressure on the opposing QBs. And our offensive production would certainly go up with better blocking. After all we are just a rainstorm (Miami), dropped pass (Buffalo) and one play (Chargers) from being 7-1. Still optimistic.
Jim: I hear ya Warnis. Well, there’s nothing that can be done about those missed opportunities now, though. The good news is the team remains in the thick of things in AFC playoff race. The second half starts now, and a big three games are on the horizon, starting on Sunday vs. the Patriots…
Chris Chapman from Hermitage, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim! I’m gonna take a page from your book and just jump right in here. I do have a question or 2 but I would like to make a couple of very important statements concerning our Titans. What I and every other "Faithful" fan saw Monday night was nothing short of a massive team effort in beating the Dallas Cowboys! This wasn't a fluke game at all; I believe this is what our Titans are supposed to look like when they execute plays and work as a team. There's been a massive amount of negativity in recent weeks. I wanna hear from all those fans who were calling for Coach Mike's firing, Coach Matt's firing. Our "FRANCHISE" QB Marcus Mariota led our team to victory after a shaky start, they recovered quickly and efficiently. I understand why JRob chose not to mortgage part of our future draft picks on a receiver who would most def take several weeks to get acclimated to our offense. We only had 4 picks this past year... My question is about Malcolm Butler, its obvious he's a talented CB we've seen it all through the offseason and thru training camp. For some reason his execution and fundamentals haven't carried over. He's given up 7 touchdowns so far this season and over 600 yards according to NFL stats. How much longer do you see Coach Mike giving him to find his footing so to speak? Did we not pay him alot of money to be a potential "lock down" CB? What would it hurt to try Sims out? Butler gave up another 2 TD's against Dallas. On a diff note; how long do you think its gonna take the coaching staff to get Jalston Fowler ready to help out? Deion Lewis is an Awesome asset but Fowler is for lack of a better term a giant bowling ball who could be used to plow the way for both Derricck Henry and Deion Lewis. I’m not coach by any stretch but I saw our running game start to click. How do you see the Titans using Fowler as we head into the 2nd half of the season? Sorry buddy that's several questions and I hope they're good enough for you to post. Lastly, we have our FRANCHISE QB folks and I don't see him going anywhere for awhile! Now its onto a very beatable New England team! How bout we all get behind this team from now on and leave the negativity at the door! TITAN UP PPL!!!
Jim: Hey Chris. Good to hear from you. On the negativity early, hey, let’s face it, the team earned some of it. The Buffalo loss remains tough to explain, and the Baltimore beatdown was ugly. But those calling for folks to be fired five or six games into the season? C’mon man! I touched on Butler earlier when replying to Thomas. Malcolm needs to play better, and he knows it. Vrabel was asked about Butler’s job security earlier in the week, and it sure didn’t sound like he’s on the verge of being replaced. As for Fowler, the way Vrabel talked leading up to the Dallas game, I certainly wasn’t surprised he was inactive. He’s still learning the offense, and settling in. Will be play against the Patriots? Stay tuned…
Have a great weekend everyone!
Series Flashback: Titans vs. Patriots
TitansOnline.com looks back at the all-time series against the New England Patriots. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)