NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Well, it’s come to this: Titans vs. Colts on Sunday, for a playoff spot.
Yeah, it’s big.
But first, it’s time to knock out another Titans mailbag.
Steven Galvan from Dallas, Texas
Question: Hope you had a Merry Christmas and are ready for this do or die game with the Colts. The first meeting with the Colts, obviously didn't go very well and we saw our secondary get torched and our pass rush fail to generate any pressure on Andrew Luck. In addition to that, we also struggled to stop the run. My question is what do Vrabel and Dean Pees plan on doing differently this time around to slow Andrew Luck and the rest of the Colts offense down? The loss of Casey obviously makes things a little more difficult. Is it a matter of getting more creative with blitzes and hiding coverages or more of a "stay disciplined and execute" mentality? Adoree Jackson didn't have his best game covering Hilton. I'd like to see him get a little revenge, but how is he preparing differently for Sunday?
Jim: Well, that’s the big question – that, and the ones surrounding quarterback Marcus Mariota. I can’t tell you what I’ve seen in practices, but the Titans are going to have to put some pressure on Luck this time around. And they’re going to have to do it without defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, linebacker Brian Orakpo and cornerback Logan Ryan, the team’s top blitzing defensive back. I think you’re going to see some new wrinkles. I talked to Adoree’ this week and he’s put that game behind him, and is preparing for a better performance. And it will help having defensive coordinator Dean Pees for the whole game. Remember, he has his medical issue at Indy in the first quarter, and left the stadium and went to the hospital. Obviously that disrupted some things.
W. Brian Watkins from Crossville, Tennessee
Question: Why did the NFL change the Sunday (12-30-2018) game from a day game to a night game? When clearly there's no major reason to do so other than money. Also, do you believe as do a lot of Titans fans that we are giving up a big part of our home field advantage with this change of game time? And lastly, do you thank Amy (Adams) Strunk should take legal action against the NFL for changing the time of Sunday's game? Thank you for your time and I wait enthusiastically for your answer! W.B.W.
Jim: Well, the major reason is because it’s the NFL’s most intriguing matchup of the weekend, a win-and-in playoff opportunity. Do I think the Titans are giving up a home-field advantage? No way. I think it will be an even more raucous atmosphere at night. As for legal action? W. Brian, getting flexed to the Sunday night game is a good thing. Believe me, no one is mad about it.
Mike Williams from Lakeland, Florida
Question: Hi Jim, If we win Sunday vs the Colts do you think we have a very strong run at the Super bowl? Is it possible for us to bring in L.Bell for a 2 head monster with Henry and bell?
Jim: Hey Mike. First things first – Titans have to beat the Colts to get in the playoffs. As for Bell, don’t bet on it…
Lee Howard from Hillsboro, Tennessee
Question: You wouldn’t have an extra set of tickets to the game would you? Feels weird to ask but can’t get em if I don’t try lol. Happy Holidays
Jim: Hey Lee. Wish I could help here. It’s a tough ticket. The game will be sold out …
Devin Belt from Marion, Kentucky
Question: I constantly see the negative comments on Marcus. I know he’s had his injuries but he’s played through a lot. He’s led us to the playoffs and literally threw a pass to himself to help win the game. He consistently has won us games in the 4th quarter and you can tell his offensive line and all teammates love playing for him!
My question: What would be your opinion on helping fill the big void of no Jurrell Casey, I know like you said with Delanie it’s not one guy but a whole lot that has to play to help. But, this time of the year it’s so important to get pressure and play good defense. Who do you think would be the best option to try and help pick up the load..?
Jim: Hey Devin. Yeah, I don’t get all the Mariota bashing. I’ve seen some compare him to Jake Locker, which is ridiculous. I like Jake, but he played in 30 games in four seasons with the Titans, with 23 starts. Some folks make it sound like Mariota hardly plays. Yes, there’s no denying he’s had his share of injuries. But he’s also played in 57 of a possible 64 games, and started 43 of his last 47. Others question his toughness and availability by comparing him to Steve McNair, who goes down as one of the toughest guys I've ever been around. But they gloss over the fact McNair missed five games in his first season with the "Titans" because of an injury, and he missed a start in 2001, two starts in 2003 , eight starts in 2004 and two starts in 2005. As for filling Casey’s spot, it’s going to take a number of guys. Bennie Logan, Darius Kilgo and Matt Dickerson (Mike Vrabel said Friday he’ll be active) will also be in the mix, along with regulars DaQuan Jones and Austin Johnson. But the Titans will need to get pressure in a number of areas.
Thomas Booth from Thorofare, New Jersey
Question: Win and in for the Titans. My question Jim if marcus "mr softee" mariota cannot go on Sunday will you finally admit that he is not a 100 million dollar investment?
Jim: Hey Thomas. I also got your email calling Marcus “marshmallow,” and I’ve noticed you submitting questions taking cheap shots in the past. Leaving this in here just to show the level some will take it, sadly.
Benson Medina from Hilo, Hawaii
Question: Hey Jim. Thanks for providing us fans an opportunity to give feedback, much appreciated. Just a couple of quick stats for the "Mr. Softee" (Marcus Mariota) critics. Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck have all spent up to an entire season on IR so injury comes with the position. No team in this league can make it through an entire season and expect to be successful with one quarterback (Super Bowl Champs Philadelphia as an example). We're lucky to have a good back up in Blaine Gabbert. Also, 4th quarter comebacks, only Brady and Russell Wilson have a higher winning percentage than Marcus (who is tied with Roethlisberger for 3rd). Successful franchises find their guy and stick with him through the injuries…
Jim: Aloha Benson. You should have dinner with Thomas. I’m sure you guys would get along well… :)
Thanks for taking the time.
Joe Rice from Fort Worth, Texas
Question: Hey Jim. My question is this: How do the Titans create pressure now that Casey is out for the year? He has 30 more pressures than the next guy. 30!!! We need to help the secondary out with Logan injured and I don’t know if we have the personnel to do it.
Jim: Hey Joe. As I mentioned to Devin, guys are going to have to step up. Casey has been the defense’s best player, and now it’s on others to rise to the occasion.
Aiden McGeaden from Ballymena UK
Question: Hi Jim meant to write ages ago. I'm from the UK and over here we have a show called the NFL show with Osi Umenyiora and Jason Bell. Though the thing is they never talk about the Titans. They always talk about the Thursday night game on the Friday show (it was the week we beat Jacksonville 30-9) and they complete skipped out talking about us!!!! Why? And if you happen to know Jason or Osi can you tell them to talk about us. Thanks for all you do for us Brits. Best wishes and all the best from me and my family. Thanks!!!!
Jim: Hey Aiden. I don’t know Osi personally, but if the Titans can find a way to win on Sunday, he’ll have no choice but to talk about them…
Kevin Ford from Bend, Oregon
Question: I was watching the NFL Network last night and Maurice Jones-Drew was talking about the AFC playoff picture and it predicted the Colts to win Sunday just like everyone else but he called the Titans an inferior team and said that they don't belong in the playoffs it was uncalled for and unprofessional and it really pissed me off. I have been a Marcus Mariota fan since college we went to several of his college games at Oregon it was electric the way he got the crowd going it is a great place to see a football game
Jim: Hey Kevin. This is an easy one. Jones-Drew spent most his career with the Jaguars. He’s probably upset with how the series has been going …
Nima Bahri from Brentwood, Tennessee
Question: Where can you find what jerseys the Titans wear for each week?
Jim: Hey Nima. I tweet it out each week on Twitter -- @jwyattsports.
Aaron Lozano from Guntown, Mississippi
Question: Hey Jim I am not sure if you remember me writing earlier in the year complaining about the under-usage and or misuse of Derrick Henry.... Now I am writing not necessarily complaining but perhaps suggesting that Matt should use Dion Lewis more effectively and not so much in the run game but in the passing game, could he expect more targets since he is great at catching the ball?
Jim: Hey Aaron. I have to be honest: I received so many Derrick Henry lack of playing time questions earlier in the season, I lost track of where they came from. The thing with Dion is to get him on the field, most of the time it means taking Henry off of it. I think you’ll continue to see a mix of the two, but Henry is definitely earning more opportunities, and playing time.
Randy Lafferty from Seaside, Florida
Question: No question Jim, just a suggestion. I think the team should do whatever they can to confuse the Colts. Offense, defense and special teams. Of course stick to their strengths but use disguises. Line up D. Lewis in the slot. Use the Wildcat. Use multiple defensive schemes. This team has been through so much not to deserve a shot at the playoffs. Good luck Titans no matter what your fans will still be proud of you!
Jim: Appreciate you taking the time Randy…
Mike Davis from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim read your mailbag every week and enjoy your insight. I know that Marcus gets injured some and all these Titans "fans" say it's time to move on but Mariota is arguably the best quarterback in franchise history. He needs to be more consistent to become elite but he has shown several times that he is our quarterback of the future. I remember the Vince young/Jake locker/Matt Hasselbeck/Kerry Collins/Ryan Fitzpatrick days all too well and can't believe that people still have doubts. I keep hearing rumors that Jon isn't absolutely in love with him. I know they picked up his option but how true are the rumors? Don't want to see that outstanding young man in another uniform. Please tell Amy that Nashville loves MM8. #TitanUp
Jim: Hey Mike. Appreciate you hopping in. First I’ve heard of these rumors, though. Probably coming from Thomas in New Jersey.
Dwayne Woodcock from Trenton, Ontario
Question: Merry Christmas Jim. I missed the Christmas mailbag but have a lingering question I can’t find the answer to. I think the offence has really found its stride the past few weeks. Can you tell me the likelihood of losing Matt LaFleur? It pains me to think he could land a HC job somewhere and we’re forced to go through the struggles of yet another new OC. I mean, great for him if he does but it sets Mariota and the offence back another year at a time when they’re just starting to come into their own. Thanks Jim. Great work as always.
Jim: Hey Dwayne. Hard to say right now. I know he has a good reputation, and the fact he got a head coaching interview last offseason helped his cause. I do expect a good number of NFL jobs to come open once again this year. I do agree with you as it relates to Mariota – it wouldn’t be a great scenario for him. Also, the past mailbags can all be found on the website if you miss one.
Joanne Mann from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: Not a question - a request to whomever is responsible for playing music during the Titans games...PLEASE PLAY QUEEN’S We Will Rock You. I really think this will get the whole Titans crowd involved and excited with the stomping and clapping. The Titans don’t have a motto or saying (except Titan Up). I hear visitors of so many other teams singing a little ditty about their team - we don’t have that. Until we DO - PLEASE play Queen - especially with the recent popularity of their movie Bohemian Rhapsody. We HAVE to get the Titans fans fired up - there will be TONS of Colts fans there and we’ll be on Sunday Night Football!!!
Jim: Hi Joanne. Will pass it along. And I’m expecting Nissan Stadium to be packed, but mainly with Titans fans….
Have a great weekend everyone!