NASHVILLE – After a Week One win, the Titans have dropped two straight heading into this Sunday’s game against the Falcons.
The questions and comments continue to pour in following the loss to Jacksonville.
And we’ll continue to answer them here in the mailbag.
This Tuesday’s edition is now off and running…
Delfonta Kelly from Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim I wish everyone stop all this silly talk about let put Tannehill in and bench Marcus, Tannehill is NOT the answer, Marcus is a better athletic and better quarterback than Tannehill. This reminds me of when fans was booing Steve MC9 and calling for the Titans to put Neil O'Donnell in. I feel the Titans need to win the battle on the Offensive line and Defense line. Football is a game of inches and won in the trenches. Last two games against the Colts and Jags the defensive line was not getting any pressure on the quarterbacks which put a lot of pressure on our Defensive Backs they only can cover a receiver for so long before they get open. The offensive line play we all know is horrible 17 sacks on Marcus in 3 games not going to get us from Good to Great. Titans used to many high draft picks and money on this offensive line to have this poor play. SO the entire titans offensive line get my NEED TO TITANUP AWARD not a good award to have LOL! Pass this along to the offensive line. Thanks Jim.
Jim: Hey Delfonta. It’s definitely been lively in here the last few mailbags, huh? I will say you’re onto something about the comparison of the Mac9 fan support/frustration. In his fifth season he was roundly booed at then LP Field when he came back on the field in Week One, and a ton of folks wanted Neil O’Donnell to be the starter when McNair returned from early-season surgery. McNair’s career eventually took off. We’ll see how Marcus – and the team – handles the adversity.
Bradley Wolfe from Aberdeen, South Dakota
Question: Hey Jim, I hope this email finds you well. I am a die-hard fan and love the Titans no doubt. My questions revolve around the mindset of the team. I like Mariota and will be the first to tell you I believe he has the raw talent to be great in this league (I may be in the minority on this), however I think we often forget it is a team sport as many people just point the finger at Marcus. To the credit of a lot of players they say the right things, "we will watch the film" etc. Who in the locker room stands out as a leader to you? One to rally the troops going into Atlanta? Its early in the season but we need divisional wins and still can achieve them down the road. Everything from the coaching to the execution was rough against the Jags. What is your sense from the organization of frustration etc? Thanks for taking the time.
Jim: Hey Brandon. Players and coaches are ticked off, frustrated and probably embarrassed. What the nation saw on Thursday night was a team that didn’t look very good and no one is proud of it. But the leadership is good, starting with the five captains (Jurrell Casey, Kevin Byard, Wesley Woodyard, Marcus Mariota, and Ben Jones). A bunch of other guys, from Logan Ryan to Delanie Walker to Kenny Vaccaro to Cameron Wake are all tone-setters as well. There’s time to right the ship.
Peter Palmer from Orlando, Florida
Question: I've been a loyal Oilers/Titans fan for over 41 years. Other than the luv your blue era in Houston along with the Moon and McNair era it’s been a total disappointment. My question: Why is it that this organization keep holding on to players, general managers and coaches that are total busts. How do we expect change if we still have the same failures steering the ship both on and off the field. Irate fan.
Jim: Hey Peter. Appreciate your loyalty. But what you’re stating here isn’t factual. Ownership has proven it’s not afraid to make changes. Since I joined the team in 2015, one GM has been fired and the team is on its third head coach after firing two of them. The roster has changed dramatically. Personally, I think demanding firings after three games is nonsense, especially in the wake of three straight nine-win seasons. The results of the last two weeks have been unacceptable. The loss to Jacksonville was ugly. But you make it sound like the Titans have bottom feeders the last few years when the reality is that just isn’t true. Has it been good enough? Again, no. But it's too early to really be too irate. We're three games into the season Peter.
Andy Brown from Leeds, England
Question: Hi Jim. I have been defending Marcus for 2-3 years now through injuries and poor play and I think the reason is he's a nice friendly guy, but when two weeks in a row, he’s been outplayed by Brissett and then Minshew, unfortunately I don't think he’s worthy of a big NFL contract. The sacks and the mistakes and the slow delivery of the ball gets worse week on week. I know the O-line isn't helping at times but he seems to be coming down a level rather than pulling everyone up. I would say we should trade up and take a QB in the draft, however if we aren't careful we genuinely might not have to trade up too far. These are two games we should have won and were very poor in both. We desperately need a leader somewhere and I hoped it was Mariota but he seems to be going backwards.
Jim: Hey Andy. Hope all is well in the UK. Time will tell on the contract. That decision will be made by his body of work for the entire season, not just three games. Your argument about Brissett and Minshew outplaying Marcus is one I’ve heard numerous times in emails, and I’m not going to argue that point here. I will say I wonder how well Minshew would’ve played had he been under pressure the entire night and subjected to nine sacks. I'm betting a smile wouldn't have been under his mustache. There’s no doubt Marcus holds the ball too long on occasion, but Minshew didn’t deal with anything close to what he did on Thursday night.
Johnny Long from Bowling Green, Kentucky
Question: I lost faith in Mariota as our franchise QB last season. He is inconsistent, panics when the pocket even gets slightly disrupted, doesn't keep his eyes downfield to try to keep a play going. I honestly believe Mariota would be a better WR than QB. With that being said what would it take for Vrabel to consider putting Tannehill in? I can't be the only one thinking Tannehill gives us a better chance to win. I've been a Titans fan since I was 8 years old and every year it gets harder to stay loyal to two tone blue. Love Mariota as a person but at some point it has to be time to move on.
Jim: Hey Johnny. Appreciate the questions. Two things: Marcus isn’t switching to WR. Vrabel was asked about the potential for making a QB switch to Tannehill, and he said it’s not something he’s currently considering. What would it take? For now, an injury. Vrabel’s the only one who can answer the rest.
Christopher Edwards from Shavertown, Pennsylvania
Question: Hey Jim I love the Titans. Our fan base is nuts to say mm8 is bad and sucks do they remember what it was like before he got here. We were 2-14 3-13 come on really? They think benching him will solve all problems and Tannehill will save Titans yeah just like he did in the seven years he played in Miami cuz how many playoffs games were they in while Tannehill watch from the sideline hurt. Mariota missed only eight games in his career being in the top end of qbs playing that amount of games. He is a great qb when given the chance to throw and not run for his life every play they complain when he is hurt from trying to make a play then they complain when he takes a sack give it a rest. Fans remember we have a winning record 3 years running with mm8 only 7 teams have consecutive winning seasons in the nfl. So give it a rest and support Marcus Mariota. Sorry Jim had to say that for a while now but thanks
Jim: Thanks for weighing in Christopher.
Brandon Bousquet from Menifee, California
Question: Hey Jim! Long time reader, first time in the mailbag! I know a lot of people are questioning Mariota’s ability at the QB position in the NFL, but I have watched as many games as I could since we drafted him and I see a great quarterback! He has made amazing throws! Not that it happens as much as I or anyone other titan fan would like but I also believe we have the receivers to have a really good passing game. Derrick Henry is awesome I’m so glad we drafted him! I think our defense is way above middle of the pack! What I’m concerned about is our offensive line, knowing Taylor Lewan is out (which is a huge blow) but we signed Rodger Saffold, extended C Ben Jones and drafted RG Nate Davis in the 3rd round but the line is still playing awful so why haven’t we attempted to either draft, trade, or sign a big name free agent on the o-line? Also do you think our OC Arthur Smith is making our offense play TOO conservative? Thank you for all of your work! I hope this question was one worth asking/answering!
Jim: Back-to-back Mariota supporters in here. As for the o-line, Rodger Safford is the big free agent addition. The Titans signed him this offseason after a solid career with the Rams. I don't think he's been great so far. Even Vrabel said on Monday he needs to show improvement. As for Smith, the problem he’s been faced with is the long down and distance situations on third downs have shrunk his playbook and made play-calling more predictable. The offense is going to have to be more successful on first and second downs – and quit giving up so many sacks – to allow him a chance to use his entire playbook.
Dale Miura from Pearl City, Hawaii
Question: Aloha Jim. There are many issues to be addressed regarding the high number of sacks, whether it's offensive line protection, quarterback holding the ball too long, or receivers not getting open. Obviously it's not a quick fix, high number of sacks has been a recurring problem. Most of Jacksonville's sacks weren't the result of one player busting through but rather a swarm trapping Marcus in the pocket. Have the coaches been asked about incorporating a rollout pocket to take advantage of Marcus' athleticism to buy him more time? Or possibly have Marcus drop back a few yards deeper to give him more room to maneuver and the defense a different look? Speaking of a different look, how about throwing the bomb in the first offensive series just to give the defense something to think about? No worries, Marcus will lead the team to the playoffs, then who knows what can happen! Thanks for your great work, Jim! Mahalo!
Jim: Hey Dale. I’ve heard this proposed a few times as well post-Jacksonville. Well, there needs to be some kind of a counter, or solution. I’m curious myself to see what it is. Mahalo.
Kenny Ospital from Roy, Utah
Question: Thanks for taking questions and providing great insight into the Tennessee Titans. I wrote you for the first time last year after the Ravens/Titans debacle & I couldn’t think of a better time to write you again. When do you think the Titans will bench Marcus Mariota & move on? By all accounts he’s a great guy on and off the field, that much I love about him. But it’s pretty clear that he’s not developing & becoming a better QB in the NFL. I think this is one of the most talented rosters the Titans have ever possessed, but the team is held down by MM8’s inability to develop. His footwork was awful (vs. Jacksonville) & for some strange reason he’s holding onto the ball for far too long. Give the Jags credit, they have a good pass rush, but MM gift wrapped them a few sacks & cost the Titans the game. Do you think his lack of development is related more to the constant turnover of offensive coordinators or his own limitations? What do you think of Arthur Smith? So far, I’m not impressed. Small sample size, but he hasn’t shown the kind of innovation & precision it takes to be great in the NFL. If the Titans do move on from MM and draft a new QB next year, do you think the Titans will pursue a new OC to pair with their new QB? I think coach Vrabel has what it takes to be a great coach & lead a team to a SB, but I think he will need to rely on bright offensive minds to get him there. I’m not sure Arthur Smith is that guy. I think I’m done watching the Titans this year, looks like another 8-8 year. It’s hard to go from good to great when your QB regresses. #cutMM8
Jim: I answered the question re: Marcus benching to Johnny. It’s Vrabel’s call as to whether he's ultimately benched/replaced. The hope is he bounces back and quiets his critics. Do I think all the OC changes have set him back. Well, five playcallers in five seasons isn’t ideal, I’ll just say that. As for Arthur Smith, I like him and think he’s going to do a good job. I’m not about to make an overall assessment after three games. As for the other hypotheticals, not going there either. Listen to talk radio for that since you apparently won't be watching the games any more.
Linda Cereseto from Los Osos, California
Question: Hi Jim. I am a huge Marcus Mariota fan. Loved him at UofO and have followed him to Tennessee. I feel horrible for him. He's a great athlete and a great role model. I can't bear to see him get sacked all the time. He's had 5 offensive coaches. He's not going to get better if he doesn't have protection and the plays aren't working. What will help Marcus succeed?
Jim: Better play from him, better protection, and more consistency from all of his targets. That group includes running back Derrick Henry, who dropped a screen pass that might’ve gone for a touchdown vs. the Jaguars. I'm not calling out Derrick here, I'm just further pointing out all the problems on the team aren't just related to No.8.
Christopher Harris from College Station, Texas
Question: Howdy Jim. 9 SACKS!! OMGosh, SHM!! After re-watching the game, I credit 2 sacks to Marcus. He was slow to release and slow in his progression and that created 2 sacks. I realize Lawan is out for another game and his situation is another can of worms I won't dive into this session. I'll say this, we as individuals are entirely responsible for what we put into our bodies and when you're the highest paid offensive lineman in the league you should always KNOW what you're consuming. I don't know what to say, Jacksonville has 1 extremely great defensive tackle that is better than everyone on our offensive line! We had no answer for Calais Campbell, he literally whooped every offensive line we have. As an athlete, game respects game but our o-line doesn't deserver much respect at all. I'm sad...where do we go from here, how do we fix a leaky o-line. If it were a leaky water hose I'd just replace it with a new one but what are we to do about our o-line. Everyone wants to blame Marcus and the media is calling for a change in QB, it doesn't matter if it were Tom Brady, he would have gotten destroyed playing behind our line. Jim I have much respect and love for our organization, and I believed this was the year we were to go from good to Great. If our o-line continues to play this way, we will go from good to Horrible!!
Jim: Appreciate the candid feedback. Where do we go from here? Atlanta …
Jacob McCluskey from Huntsville, Tennessee
Question: Hello Jim! I hope you are doing well during these stressful times. I am a little lost for words right now. I know you are going to be bombarded with negative comments, but I’m going to try and stay positive. I know Marcus is going to take a lot of harsh criticism but blame has to be passed to each and every player and coach. You win as a team and lose as a team. I think everyone in that locker room is capable of turning things around and winning games. There’s too much talent to be losing games in the ways we are, and I think everyone’s expectations for the season is to go to the playoffs and compete for a championship. With that being said, my question for you Jim is the Atlanta Falcons game a must win? You have to think going 1-3 on the season puts the team in a major hole early in the season. Games this early in the year shouldn’t be considered must wins, but a loss to the Falcons could put the team morale in serious jeopardy. Also, how has Nate Davis looked in practices when he has been healthy? Our offensive line did not perform the best against Jacksonville, so do you think Nate Davis could improve any deficiencies? Thanks for the time Jim, the best thing to do right now is to stay positive and believe in not only Marcus, but the rest of the team as well. That may be hard for a lot of fans, but I’ve seen Marcus and this current Titans team do fantastic things, it’s just got to translate on the field at a consistent level. Titan Up!!!
Jim: Thanks for weighing in. The Atlanta game is a big one, but it’s not must-win. I saw where former Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck chimed in on social media over the weekend and reminded everyone of the 2002 Titans. That team started 1-4, and they stunk it up early. But that team then won 10 of 11 to close out the regular season and went to the AFC Championship game. It’s still early. Heck, the Texans started 0-3 last year and they finished 11-5 and won the division. As for Nate Davis, he’s been making steady progress.
Rob Gullo from Mullica Hill, New Jersey
Question: Hey Jim. I have been a fan for a long time, and I have honestly never watched a game like Thursday against the Jags. I called every play. Does anyone in this organization realize that Mariota can throw it down field? Let him do it!!!! How many times does he release the ball way too early? Marcus use your legs if the line breaks down, you are just as fast as any of these QBs. Find space if the pocket breaks down and then find your man. Thanks for letting me vent Jim. Keep beating those EAGLES!!!!
Jim: Hope you feel better, Rob.
James Clark from Westmoreland, Tennessee
Question: How is Nate Davis doing. If healthy he’s an upgrade at rg we get our pro bowl LT bag after next game, so with that said can we turn this around in your opinion?
Jim: Hey James. Just touched on Nate but will go a little deeper here. He was behind after missing so much time in camp. He’s been catching up, and I’ve heard positive things in recent weeks. I watched him during his on-field work in pregame in Jacksonville and he looked good. Vrabel said on Monday the team hopes he'll be in a position to play this Sunday, so we'll see if that happens. Getting Lewan back will help as well. Can the Titans turn it around? At the start of the season I said I’d take at 2-2 after four games. Win against Atlanta and it’s 2-2.
Reinhard Schiendorfer from Pfäffikon, Switzerland
Question: Why do we punish the o-line, the QB and the fans by calling deep passes? The price for some nice long plays is too high. Marcus has to wait and wait and wait until he’s sacked. Derrick, Delanie and A.J. have proven that we obviously have weapons to make a lot of yards after short catches. And will we let Marcus do what he can best: run? We can take a bit more risks having paid for a Tannehill insurance. Go Titans.
Jim: Switzerland in the house! Thanks for sharing your thoughts Reinhard.
Mac McCarty from South Fork, Colorado
Question: Gosh, Jimbo - hard to read the last mailbox completely. However, lets do some math. Season = 16/16ths -->game = 1/16th. I've been a fan LONG, LONG time. I experienced the season in Houston 1 and 4 - then we ripped off 10 games in a row. Re. Mariota. He was sharp on Thursday night accept when OL folded. Henry is ready to bust loose. Two points I noticed during the game: Many of the Titans had a defeated look on their face before the kickoff. It was pre-determined who was going to win. I now think Ref's are in far more control than we think. Second point - I saw brilliance in some of OC's Smith's calling, albeit here and there, he's going to develop into something special. It's going to be okay. Better to lose early! 13/16s to go, so TitanUp
Jim: Hey Mac. This one a lot more uplifting, huh? Appreciate the feedback. Not sure about the defeated look. I was on the field in warmups and didn’t see it. I thought guys were fired up and ready to play. I will say I didn’t like the way guys let things snowball after the Adoree’ Jackson fumble. A 7-0 shouldn’t be so deflating, but it sure seems to take the life out of the team too early. I thought it was an uninspired performance, but that's just me. The refs were awful – that’s just my opinion, too. The Titans didn’t lose the game because of the officiating, but some of the calls were really bad. And you’re right – 13/16s to go.
Jimmy Dee from Battle Ground, Washington
Question: Jim, I can say with 100% certainty that the Atlanta Falcons' game-plan will be to score early so they can get a lead and then slam the Titans OL with HEAVY all-out blitzes all game long. Atlanta is going to do this because they just saw on national TV that doing that works against the Titans. The Titans need to prevent the Falcons from scoring early and improve the play of the o-line. And if possible the Titans need to score early for a change.
Jim: Hey Jimmy Dee. I have no doubt this is every team’s plan, no matter the opponent. Thanks for continuing to fire the questions my way.
Jonathan Williams from Nashville, Tennessee.
Question: Hi Jim. 2nd year season ticket holder titans fan for the last 20 years and ongoing what need to happen is MM8 will need to play shotgun at all time until that peewee O Line gets better it’s not MM8 he’s a good QB if MM8 had enough time in the pocket we would have one hell of a show from him get him some protection on that line and he’ll have time to see who’s open I like him very humble guy and he’s being broken by our fans we have to remember that will affect any QB performance he wants to do good so bad that he mess up or can’t think correctly because he have the pressure from the defense the coach the GM the fans the team members the press we have to stand with our QB and let him know we’re by his side thanks buddy for letting us speak with you I feel better Fans shut up and Titanup 🔥⚔️🔥
Jim: Appreciate it, Jonathan. I like the enthusiasm. And don’t be afraid to sprinkle in a period or two next time. 😊
Bob Easley from Austin, Texas
Question: Mariota threw for 100 more yards than Minshew, but Minshew is a hero and to many, Mariota is a goat - I don't mean G.O.A.T. I still have my doubts about Mariota’s leadership ability at QB, but when you get sacked 9 times and don’t give up an interception in 40 attempts, that’s awesome!. Yes, he held it too long a couple of times, but that can also show grit and determination and can sometimes lead to a late play developing! I don't think this latest game is the right time to be on Mariota's case. It seems like the Jag defense made a rushing adjustment at half time and we weren't able to respond to that. The OL and coaching staff need to be speaking up and taking responsibility.
Jim: Hey Bob. Pretty solid take in my opinion. And I will tell you all the offensive linemen I talked to on Monday – Dennis Kelly, Rodger Saffold and Jack Conklin – all took ownership of the unit’s issues.
Dave Warren from New Bern, North Carolina
Question: Jim, I don’t have a question, just wanted to share my thoughts. I am a long time Titans fan and a HUGE Mariota fan since his days at Oregon! Like all Titans fans I was furious during the game against the Jaguars because of how bad we looked. Mariota was under constant duress and 17 sacks in three games equates to 90 for the year, IF the offensive line issues aren’t fixed. Also, Marcus does hold onto the ball a little too long, sometimes. It was painfully obvious to see in Thursday’s game.
But, to all the Mariota haters from Saturday’s mailbag and others in the Titans fan base, may I provide a little perspective from none other than you, Mr. Wyatt? Mariota compares favorably to Titans great Steve McNair over their first four seasons! And remember, McNair was often injured too!
Steve McNair (45 games, 38 starts from 1995-1998)
Stats: 634-of-1,130, 7,659 yards, 56.1 %, 6.8 pass yds/att, 170.2 pass yards per game, 38 TDs, 28 INTs, 78.0 rating, sacked 79 times, 23-22 record.
Marcus Mariota (56 games, 55 starts from 2015-2018)
Stats: 1,015-of-1,605, 12,004 yards, 63.2 %, 7.5 pass yds/att, 214.4 pass yards per game, 69 TDs, 42 INTs, 89.4 rating, sacked 130 times, 28-28 record.
The only bad stat that stands out is the number of sacks. Oh, and all of this with FOUR different coordinators and 3 head coaches! And, his current coach continues to say the team is NOT CONSIDERING a QB change! Good Lord, he was 17-24 in the second half for a 103.13 passer rating WITH the 8 sacks!
Now, am I so pie-in-the-sky to think that MM8 will be our franchise QB after this season? Not if he doesn’t cure his inconsistencies and the offensive line issues aren’t solved. But, I’m still a fan of both MM8 and the team! We’re only three games in to a very long season. #TitanUp
Jim: Hey Dave. You’re right. The McNair/Mariota info above was part of a comparison piece I did heading into the season. And you’re right again – the sacks continue to pile up for Marcus and it needs to stop. Heck, I was sore all weekend after seeing the beating he took. As for what happens moving forward as to whether he’s a franchise QB, you’re right yet again -- that will be determined after the season. Keep in mind there are other options in addition to a long-term deal. Still a lot TBD here.
Brandon Warner from Huntsville, Alabama
Question: Jim. I wanted to give my 2 cents on MM8. First, I am no football expert or analyst or anything of the sort, just an (obviously) overzealous fan. I hope that Marcus doesn’t read all the negative criticism and think that’s how everyone thinks. Again, I am not a football expert but watching that game last night and seeing what I interpret as our offensive line not being able to block anything, and between the weather and C. Campbell in MM8’s face it’s extremely hard for any QB to get into a rhythm. Last season when we played New England, and we rattled Tom Brady and he played like crap, no one was calling for his head. I hope that they find plays that will showcase MM strength’s and help the offense take off. I know there were multiple factors in Thursday night’s performance and I just wanted to point out that it was not all on MM. Just venting my friend, thank you for all you do keeping the fans informed. If you see Marcus please pat him on the back and tell him we said thank you for always being a professional and for giving 100% the way he does to our football team.
Jim: I think you can feel safe in knowing Marcus isn’t reading these mailbags. He still doesn’t have social media, which also puts him in the minority. I’d be naïve to think he hasn’t heard some of the negativity, however, just because it’s been so widespread of late. But I don’t think it will get him down. He’s a competitor and he’s working to get better, and to be successful. Appreciate the feedback.
Have a great week everyone!