NASHVILLE – Two preseason games down, and two to go.
Yes, we’re getting closer to the regular season.
It’s safe to say you’ve never been closer to the Titans mailbag.
Eduardo Yanofsky from Mexico City, Mexico
Question: Hi Jim. I am a long-time fan of the Oilers / Titans. I am very excited for the start of the season, but somewhat distressed by the record with teams in the same division. What do you think about it? Thank You. Titan Up!
Jim: Hola Eduardo. If you’re talking about the strength of the AFC South, it’s real. In the past few years it’s gone from being considered one of the weakest divisions in the NFL to one of the strongest. But somebody has to win it, and the Titans are certainly capable. I think it’s up for grabs. And some encouraging news is the team's record vs. the AFC South of late. Since 2017-18, the division records for all four AFC South teams: Titans (8-4), Colts (6-6), Texans (5-7), Jaguars (5-7).
James Branch from Buckingham, Virginia
Question: Hey Jim. Just saw my first Titans game live this weekend. I loved watching the Titans and Patriots play even though it was preseason it was nice. Great job and great looking stadium. I’m proud to be a Titans fan. My wife came with me she's a Patriot fan but she enjoyed the game and Nashville. We love Marcus and I’m glad he played well. I had to travel 8 hours but it was worth it! I’m coming to more games for sure. Titan UP!
Jim: Hey James. Glad you had such a great time. You definitely need to come back for a regular season game. The atmosphere will be turned up several notches.
Justin Jones from Silver Springs, Maryland
Question: Hey Jim. It’s been a while since I've submitted a question, but I still continue to read the mailbag and I definitely appreciate the coverage and work that you do, especially for us fans out of state.
My question is, with the joint practice ending with the Patriots, it made me wonder, have you heard about or know if Marcus Mariota receives any tips From Tom Brady to help elevate his game? Do you know if he receives tips from any other quarterbacks around the league?
Jim: Hey Justin. I kept an eye on Mariota and Brady during the week, and while they chatted, I don’t think they spent a lot of time together. I know Marcus admires him, and he’s chatted with him in the past. They have a friendly relationship, but I don’t get the sense Brady is giving him any tips, to be honest. I do think QBs across the league support and encourage one another, and some are tighter than others. I know Marcus has known Peyton Manning for many years, dating back to his days at Oregon. But I don’t think there’s a deep connection with Brady and Marcus.
Luis Medin from Dayton, Ohio
Question: Is there any idea of when we will hear more about Taylor Lewan’s suspension?
Jim: I suspect at some point in the next week or so. I saw where Golden Tate recently lost his appeal, and his suspension announcement was about the same time as Lewan’s. I’m not very optimistic about it being overturned or even reduced, and I don’t think Taylor is either. Otherwise he never would have made it public in the first place.
Darren Briggs from South Brunswick, New Jersey
Question: Jim Wyatt, Good day sir. Titan fan for 20 years here and so I get straight to the focal point with this team cause they’ve put me through it all. Marcus is struggling to stay healthy for an entire season and even when he plays, he’s a ‘good’ QB, not ‘great’ in my humble opinion. Can you offer me any solace and/or optimism in believing that Marcus can lead this team now and into the future to win titles? Thank you for your work covering this team.
Jim: Hey Darren. Appreciate the email. I’ve spoken up in support of Marcus in here many times, because I think he’s a talented quarterback who is easy to root for because he’s such a good guy. I think what should make you optimistic is the fact he’s beginning the 2019 season with familiarity with the offensive system, surrounded by the best supporting cast he’s had since he’s been in Tennessee. But he’s going to have to play well and do his part. He’s going to have to stay healthy, he’s going to have to improve his accuracy and he’s going to have to be consistent. And players are going to have to be good around him. There’s no doubt he’s good enough to take this team places, but it’s going to take everyone. I’ll end by saying this: Heading into his fifth NFL season, Mariota is way more accomplished than Steve McNair was headed into his fifth NFL season. It's not even close. We all know McNair’s career took off in year five. Now it’s up to Marcus to do the same.
Dallas Konitski from Loves Park, Illinois
Question: What’s the chances we can keep Cody Hollister? He’s a big body target that could certainly help Mariota in the redzone as well as the go and grab high up throws
Jim: Hey Dallas. I was asked about Cody last week, too, and I get it. He’s done a nice job. The problem is he’s at a position with a lot of depth, and guys ahead of him. Cody is listed behind Corey Davis on the depth chart, but since the team is going with a three-wide lineup on the depth chart this year, that only puts him in the top six as far as the depth chart goes, and rookie A.J. Brown is listed as third team, like the rest of the rookies. We know A.J. is no third-teamer. Cody still has his work cut out for him to make the roster, but he’s competing. And keep in mind he’s practice squad eligible. The same goes for Kalif Raymond.
Gavin Odell from Fort Riley, Kansas
Question: What's going, Jim? Great work keeping all of us out-of-town Titans informed. My question is how's Vrabel approach to practice and camp from a player perspective as it pertains to rest help the trajectory of the team? Is this something past coaches have emphasized? Do you think it will work for players like Wake who has barely gotten reps? Will rest over reps help or hurt certain players? Should we trust this method? Also for the O-line, is the coaching staff still iffy on the starting lineup? Or do you think they know already, but just trying to give someone a chance to change their mind; esp the RG position which is the most "up for grabs" at this point.
Jim: Hey Gavin. Appreciate it. I really think Vrabel’s past as a player has strongly influenced him on how he treats players as it relates to injuries, and rest. It was interesting to hear Delanie Walker rave about Vrabel last week, thanking him for how patient he’s been with him coming back from last year’s injury. I remember Taylor Lewan saying the same thing last year, about how Vrabel called him and told him he didn’t want him around the facility after his concussion a year ago, because he didn’t want him to feel any pressure about returning too soon. Vrabel has made sure veterans like Cameron Wake aren’t overworked, and he’s done the same for second-year linebacker Harold Landry. Players appreciate it, and I personally think they’ll benefit from the rest. As for the starting o-line, Vrabel indicated on Sunday a decision will likely be made after the Steelers game. I suspect the coaching staff has an idea, but they want to see a few more things play out.
Have a great week everyone!