NASHVILLE – February is flying by, and now we're on the verge of another big event – the NFL Combine.
I'm headed to Indianapolis in a few days, and will have coverage for Titans Online, and on Twitter @jwyattsports.
But first, let's knock out this mailbag…
Nate Howell from Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Question: Thanks for doing the mailbag in the off season. I have a few questions for you.
1) If you were GM, what would be your strategy this year for building the team?
2) Who do you think is the best player on the Titans?
3) What qualities or skills does Arthur Smith have that let him stay on through all of the coaching changes and get promoted?
4) What's the best day to attend the draft?
Jim: Hey Nate. Way to start us off.
1) I would target a veteran receiver and one in the draft, an edge rusher or two, and a disruptive d-lineman. Plus, I would focus on improving the o-line. How well targets are hit in free agency would impact the draft, and needs early. I would investigate back-up QBs.
2) Jurrell Casey.
3) He's smart, he's a tireless worker, and he communicates well with other coaches and his players. Keep in mind he could have taken the easy road and worked for his father, the founder of FedEx. Instead, he followed his dream, and paid his dues.
4) Day One. Nothing like the excitement of the first round.
Dave Maniaci from Honolulu, Hawaii
Question: Aloha Jim. With a deep draft class of defensive players in 2019 would it not be most logical to select from the not-so-deep draft position such as from the OL position? Logic being a good to Edge or DL will be available in the later rounds AND even more logic being it would help TREMENDOUSLY with the overly concerned health of Marcus Mariota and the question marks at his capability. If any of you fans were crushed by 300 pound lineman as often as Marcus has in 2018, you would be pulverized to a pulp. Also, for all of the Mariota haters, have you really watched how he drives a comeback in the 4th quarter of games? Mariota is has more comeback wins than Sam Bradford, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, Dak Prescott, DeShaun Watson, Jameis Winston(cough), and is on pace to becoming one of the top comeback kings of the NFL. If that is not football entertainment I don't know what is!?
Jim: Aloha Dave. What happens if there's a free agent you like on the o-line? I love talking about the draft, but strategy – and needs – are influenced so much by free agency, which begins March 13. Let's see what happens in the first wave, and then we'll all have a much better idea on where things might go.
John May from Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Question: With Marcus Mariota's propensity for injury, do you think the Titans are looking for a quarterback with similar characteristics of Mariota in the draft? To take the field and win, when Mariota is injured? I was disappointed in Gabbert's lack of running when he had the chance in the Colts game and wondered if the Titans had a younger quarterback to back Mariota there might have been a different score. Thanks.
Jim: Hey John. This has been a popular question for a while. The Titans haven't had a Mariota clone since he's been in the league, and I don't necessarily think the team has to go that route. Will the team be looking to upgrade at the No.2 QB spot? Well, I'm curious myself. Blaine Gabbert remains under contract, and I asked the GM about this a few weeks ago. He complimented Gabbert, and wouldn't commit to a change. The fact he drafted Luke Falk in last year's draft shows he's exploring options. But the fact Falk's skill set isn't the same as Mariota's perhaps shows you the team isn't necessarily looking for the same body type/characteristics.
Jaime Maurice from Gulfport, Mississippi
Question: Hey Jim! Love the mailbag as well as the podcasts. Especially after moving from Columbia, TN in 2013. Anyway, my question is this: How plausible would it be to see some serious improvement with our offensive line and if we draft to complement our line who would you see us taking? I just can't see ditching Mariota like all these others feel the need to do when the offensive line has done the bare minimum. Not to mention being able to protect him and give him time to make plays.
Thanks as always and I hope you have a wonderful day! TitanUp!
Jim: Hey Jaime. I definitely see think the o-line will be addressed. I can't name names at this point, because it would be like throwing darts. (But I must admit, after a few PBRs, I was pretty good at darts back in college). A lot of options in the draft, but again, free agency comes first.
Benny Peterson from Erwin, Tennessee
Question: Hope Mariota is eating meat and potatoes not cottage cheese and whipped bananas this winter. Maybe that will toughen him up a little. Hope the powers to be know they need OL-DL not TE and for sure not a loudmouth clown me me me antonio brown cmon titan fans you gotta be better than that.
Jim: Thanks for the Mariota diet tips, Benny. Anyone who eats cottage cheese has to be tough if you ask me. And what's wrong with whipped bananas? Sounds pretty tasty to me …
John Williams from Danbury, Texas
Question: Mr. Jim thanks for posting some of the negative comments - the negative comments regarding MM8 are causing me a great deal of consternation. I recorded every game and now only have the wins available; however, these folks need to revisit the games and count the losses attributed to dropped passes, missed kicks, O-line miscues along with coaching calls - these are what kept us out of the playoffs. It wasn't Marcus. . . How in the name of Hades would you scratch your team-loved QB and start all over? Sorry to answer the question for you.
Jim: Hey John. No prob, and thanks. I let folks speak their mind in here, as long as they keep it clean, and classy. Good points by you. With that said, Marcus would tell you he needs to play better moving forward as well.
Nathaniel Torres from Hampton, Virginia
Question: Good morning Jim. Thanks for everything that you do keeping us informed. I've seen alot of mock drafts but only one that makes sense. The writer states that the Titans need to address WR twice, once in the draft and once in free agency. I completely agree with this. I think the WR room needs a complete overhaul. Do you agree with this or do you think one receiver would be enough?
Jim: Hey Nathaniel. I've actually said this in the mailbag on a few occasions. I like the thought of having a veteran in the room, to help the young guys. But I'm not talking about a hanger-on – this guy would need to be able to play, and contribute. But adding more young talent intrigues me as well. I like Corey Davis, and I think Taywan Taylor and Tajae Sharpe are talented, too. Darius Jennings and Cam Batson flashed in 2018. Devin Ross intrigues me. But more help – and competition -- is needed.
Marylou Robe from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: My ? is this: Does OC Arthur Smith want a running , throwing or mixed game? Mariota's talents are suited to running and passing. Did you ever see him at Oregon? I know that is not pro ball. My brother who lived in OR and whose daughter went to school there says he should be a pocket player like Drew Brees. However, he has also noticed that the pocket is often collapsed. Hopefully the new coach will concentrate on the pocket. I noticed that in the Colts game- Andrew Luck had forever to throw the ball. Am looking forward to a great next year and hope it is so!!!!
Jim: Hi Marylou. I asked Arthur what would be a good number for the run/pass ratio at the end of the 2019 season. Here's what he said: "There's so many factors that go into that. Everybody says they want it balanced. There's certain games that you're going to have to run the football more. We're always going to run the football, that's not to mean we're going to go in goal-line personnel, and smash their head into 11-man boxes, we're not going to do that. Again, that's another thing you don't want to put a number on because if certain things come up – like the games last year. Versus Houston, that was a wild week. We knew we were going to have to run the ball 40 times to win that game. We implemented the plan, we stuck to it, and we ended up winning that game. The next week Blaine (Gabbert) plays, he goes out early, Marcus (Mariota) comes in, he had the issue from Miami, and we just said, 'We're going to have to run it.' Those can skew your numbers but we'll try to be as balanced as we can. But again, we're going to do what we have to do to win a game."
James Taylor from Long Beach, California
Question: Hey Jim. Given that Brandon Marshall is being released by the Broncos, do you think it would be likely or beneficial for the Titans to pursue him (even as a depth/mentoring signing for our core of young LBs)? Also, do you think the Titans will re-sign Kenny Vaccaro so that we could have the three headed monster of him, Byard, and Cyprien. That would be easily a top safety group in the league!!
Jim: Hey James. I apologize if you read the earlier version of this. I misread, and thought you were talking about the receiver Brandon Marshall. I like the linebacker better, but not sure I'm ready to endorse the move. As for Vaccaro, I know he'd like to be back, and he played well enough to deserve a spot. But he's also going to be due a better contract that the one-year deal he got in 2018, and I'm sure his intrigued other teams with his play. There's a lot TBD at the safety position alongside Byard, because Cyprien remains under contract as well.
Carlos Berry from Tupelo, Mississippi
Question: I been a Tennessee Titans fan since I was little that Super Bowl run they had a yard short. MM8 has the arm for deep passes we just need more WR threats TE Walker#82 coming back image Antonio Brown 2 tone blue at WR1 then u got Corey Davis WR2 them 3 Wow MM8 would love that then mix in WRS Taylor#13, Shape#19 then The monster RB Henry#22 speedster Lewis#33 Our defense is legit resign Safety Kenny V#24 add more nasty wolves at DL to help Casey#99 & Landry#58 add a guy T Suggs r Dee Ford let them guys HUNT for QBS to hit a MEAN NASTY 4DL without Blitzen would be a headache for QBS & OL & OC 🤦♂️🤦♂️🤦♂️
Jim: Oh man, Carlos. A lot to take in here…
Demario Patterson from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim how have you been!? Also, greetings to all my fellow Titan family, hope all is well since we all been miserable not seeing our great team take the field on these past Sundays lol! My question is concerning the AFC South/East division. After witnessing the dominance of the Patriots over the past few years, what are your thoughts on moving the Colts to the AFC East and Dolphins to the AFC South? I believe this move would be smart economically for fans traveling for their teams division rival games twice a year. I think it was great to move the Rams back to L.A from St. Louis especially being in the NFC West with the other 3 west coast teams (Seahawks, Cardinals, 49ers). The Colts are in a region close enough to make easier travel between Bills, Jets, & Patriots as well as putting a really good team and quarterback in Andrew Luck to challenge the Patriots for AFC East division. Just curious of your thoughts!
Jim: Hey Demario. An interesting thought. But I've heard zero buzz about this even being a possibility.
Have a great weekend everyone!