NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After back-to-back wins, the Titans are headed to the Big Apple.
Sunday’s game vs. the Giants is a big one, but they’re all big this time of year.
To help pass the time, let’s take a bite into another Titans mailbag …
Derrick Estrada from Cranston, Rhode Island
Question: Hey Jim. I’m a die-hard Titans fan out of Rhode Island. Excited to say that I will be attending the game in New York this weekend! I was wondering if there is anything organized for Titans fans in attendance? Can’t wait to be there, Sunday can’t come soon enough!
P.S.: Tell the boys to keep an eye out for me. I’ll be the big guy in the nosebleeds screaming his head off, letting all of New York who I’m representing. TITAN UP
Jim: Hey Derrick. There’s nothing official as far as the team goes, but Two-Tone Blue Nation (@TwoToneBlueNat1 on Twitter) sent out word they’ll be tailgating in Lot L at MetLife Stadium starting at 9 a.m. and all Titans fans are invited. Also, I’ll tell the guys to be on the lookout! Have fun!
Tom Peterson from Piscataway, New Jersey
Question: As a Jersey guy I am pulling for Anthony Firkser to get more looks. I think he has caught everything thrown his way. Do you think they will look for him more? He's a smart kid to boot.
Jim: Hey Tom. I do think he’ll get more chances. Coach Vrabel even said this week they’re looking to expand his role. You’re right – he’s 16 of 16 on balls thrown his way. Quarterback Marcus Mariota and OC Matt LaFleur both raved about him this week. The guy really is a good athlete, and he’s quickly becoming a fan favorite in Nashville.
Ardie Melton from Fair Oaks, California
Queston: Hi Jim. I didn't write in last week due to the amount of "I told you so" emails I felt you would get. Turns out, you didn't get any. Well, here goes. I told you so!! Well, not you directly but you know what I mean. I've been beating the Derrick Henry drum pretty much all season. I've also been harsh on the offensive line. Finally over the past two weeks we got the shake up that was needed.
I've been rallying for more Dennis Kelly as well, and it looks like with Jack out, he should get to see the field this week.
Oh yeah, I was the first one to mention to you about Derrick returning kick offs. I'm starting to think that maybe he reads your bag and wanted to prove he could do it by going 99 for the score! Could you imagine that freight train getting a headstart like that every week!! BTW, my family and I get to pick up our new Rottweiler puppy this weekend. We named him Marcus. :) Next up, Giants!
Jim: Hey Ardie. Good to hear from you again. The Derrick Henry fan club is a big one – it has been since his days at Alabama. I know a lot of his supporters are excited about last Thursday. Now the run game needs to keep it going. As for Kelly, he is next man up, and he’ll do a good job. The team is fortunate to have a veteran ready to step in. Back to Henry, don’t look for him on kickoffs. Yeah he’s fast, but he’d also be a big target for guys streaking downfield. Plus, Darius Jennings has been good back there. Good luck with the pup!
Zachary Sutton from Memphis, Tennessee
Question: Hello Jim. Always a great win when it's against the Jags. Given the rest of the games we have now and the games that are up against the other "In-The-Hunt" teams, do you think our chances at a playoff berth are realistic or just a pipe dream? Also, do you feel like our squad would be able to make a deep run into the playoffs? Wouldn't it be better to save some draft stock if we didn't think we could make a deep run? Always, Thanks for your insight.
Jim: Hey Zachary. Well, the playoff chances are definitely realistic. But the Titans have to win. If the Titans don’t do that, nothing else across the league matters. The formula is now simple: One Dolphins loss, plus a loss by either the Steelers or the Ravens. If the Titans can win out, that would get them in. But the Titans haven’t won four straight all season, and they’re probably going to need to end the year with a five-game winning streak. It’s doable if the team performs like it did last week vs. the Jaguars. If the Titans play like they did in Buffalo, well … As for saving draft stock, I can’t believe anyone would even think along those lines.
Brandon Green from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: Everyone’s been applauding ole DH for breaking out last game (I’m not surprised. I watched him at Bama and knew if we just gave him opportunities he would blow everyone away), but I wanted to take a moment to show a little love to our LB core that past game. We held a star running back to like 30 yards, and that stop on 4th & goal by Rashaan Evans (who really has come on strong the last few weeks) really was the pivotal moment that broke the jags. Jayon Brown has looked like some hybrid between a run stopper and a nickel corner (why we drafted him in the first place. Kudos JR) — seriously not sure why he isn’t in the pro bowl race right now. And my favorite Titan right now, Sharif Finch, has worked himself into some real pt and made us look like geniuses for snagging him (been a fan of his ever since he lit up that preseason game after his family tragedy.) Throw in Harold Landry who’s finally turning his game up a notch and you’re looking at a pretty solid future LB core. Plus they have great vets to mentor them in Orakpo, Morgan and Woodyard (who I didn’t mention but has also really stepped it up since the 2nd half against the Jets). These guys deserve some praise!!
Jim: Hey Brandon. Appreciate you taking the time. And I’m sure the ‘backers appreciate you having their backs…
Seth Williamson from Houston, Texas
Question: With the consistent injuries occurring at the TE and OL positions, does this make our draft priorities different than what they may originally have been? Also, do you think that we have a real shot in the playoffs, even though we seem injury-ravaged?
Jim: Hey Seth. Fair question. I don’t think the injuries of this season change anything. Both Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith suffered injuries they can make a full recovery from. With Delanie, there’s no ignoring the fact he’s not getting any younger, so you’re probably always considering the future at that position. As for the o-line, performance – not injuries – will play the biggest role in where the team goes in the draft and free agency this offseason.
Tim Mobley from Johnson City, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim. Big fan of yours for a long time here. Still have my copy of "Tales From the Titans Sideline" of course we were both a lot younger back then. Anyway one quick comment and question. It seems to me like this is one of the most tight-knit locker rooms in the NFL. My question is are they that much closer with each other than teams you've been around in the past? Thanks and Titan Up
Jim: Hey Tim. I appreciate that! Yeah, that was a few years ago! :) And time keeps flying by.
I’ll say this about the locker room: It’s a good group, and I do notice strong bonds not only at each position group, but a nice crossover on offense and defense. Believe me, I’ve covered some teams where guys were in it for themselves, and stats, especially this time of year. Some bad apples can ruin the whole vibe. This year’s team is on the same page, and that speaks to the strength of the captains and veterans, and to Vrabel’s leadership as well.
Gavin Odell from Fort Riley, Texas
Question: What's up, Mr. Wyatt? What do you think about the new additions to the 53; TE Cole Wick and OL Austin Pasztor? Any inside info on these guys? Do they have potential to be hidden gems or just there for depth? Also, tough question, but is it better for Mariota and the offense right now to have Kelly at RT instead of Conklin? I understand Conklin was coming off a bumb ACL from last year and to me he's played poorly, frequently this season. Maybe he's not healed all the way or whatever, but he doesn't look like the All-Pro from a year or two ago. I haven't seen Kelly get beat a lot this year and seems like a very versatile and reliable backup (plus he's huge). Everyone is freaking about Conklin getting put on IR. I never wish injury on anyone, but I feel like Kelly is playing better right now anyway.
Jim: What’s up Gavin? Well, Wick is a big guy who looks the part. Unfortunately he had a setback in practice earlier this week, and hasn't practiced since. He's already been ruled out for tomorrow's game. Chances are he would've been inactive regardless -- he’s more of a depth guy at this point. Pasztor is a solid veteran the Titans have played against numerous times. He adds to the depth as well. As for the Conklin/Kelly question, there’s no doubt Kelly is capable, and reliable. He’ll do well. But coaches wouldn’t have been playing Conklin if they didn’t think he was a better option until the injury – they’re trying to win games. Again, I like Kelly and I think he’ll do well. But Conklin was battling his way back from the ACL before his latest injury, and while he struggled at times, he had some good moments as well.
Nicholas Redmond from Cohoes, New York
Question: Hey Jim! 1st time writing HUGE TITANS FAN!!! Since music city miracle to the yard short super bowl win!! Couple things loving the new look to our offence you can totally see coach Matt's touch on the offense… although I've been saying all year to feed Henry and they finally did... I know Lewis is dynamic but Henry is a work horse, gets stronger as game goes on.. also absolutely loving Corey Davis growth and think he can eventually be a top 5 wide out in league not just a top 5 pick!!! All that said I'm going to see the titans this weekend as I'm from albany ny. Taking my son for a xmas present it. It will be both of our 1st game ever!!! I'm wicked excited he doesn’t know yet I'm surprising him Sunday morning... Can you tell me how I might be able to get my son an autograph at MetLife any recommendations???. Thanks for the work you do every week keep it up, or should I say titan up!!! Merry Christmas and let's go titans 3 more win, the division is still within reach!!
Jim: Hey Nicholas. Appreciate the email. It sounds like a great father-son trip. Hope you have a wonderful time. The best advice I could give you on autographs is to get there early (gates usually open two hours before kickoff) and try and position yourself low in the stands, in the vicinity of the tunnel the Titans come in and out of. Most stadiums will let you hang out there until it gets closer to kickoff. Maybe you’ll get lucky and get the attention of some of the players, and they’ll sign something. I should tell you it’s not easy on game day – a lot of guys will have headphones on, or they’ll be locked in and focused getting ready for the game. But it’s probably your best shot at the game. Good luck and have fun!
Have a great weekend everyone!