NASHVILLE – The Titans got caught up in a web in Charlotte.
At least that’s one way to put it.
I understand some fans aren’t in the mood for any corny lines from a children’s novel – the big boys didn’t play so well in a 30-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
So, here’s your chance to chime in, in this Tuesday’s Titans mailbag …
Jared Mixon from Valdez, Alaska
Question: Greetings from the far north! I love watching hard-nose, smash-mouth, defensive football- which is why I've been a Titans fan for many years. Our defense is stout- one of the best in the league, but they can't be expected to win it for us every game. I hope we can all agree now that our Titans have more issues on offense than just the quarterback. It was not and is not just a quarterback problem. This entire season we've seen poor performances by the offensive line. We've released two kickers, benched a qb and replaced a punt returner, so who gets held accountable this week? I'd hate to see Succop go 'cause he's been so great for us in the past, but maybe he was rushed back too quickly. Any thoughts on whether there will be changes on the o-line, or with coaching?
Jim: Hey Jared. There’s no doubt about it. It’s never been just a quarterback issue on offense. Unfortunately, the team has had issues across the board, and that’s why the team is ranked 26th in the NFL on offense (yards), and 26th in scoring. The kicking situation has been a mess. But if I’m hearing you right, you wanted to keep Cody Parkey with some of the questions surrounding him? The plan was to always get Succop back in the lineup, and he picked a bad day to have a bad day. The Titans did replace a punt returner, and you might be the only one who questions that move considering how things were going at the time. As for changes on the o-line, the hope is Ben Jones will be back this week in the middle at center. As for changes with coaching, well, that’s outside my jurisdiction.
Reinhard Schiendorfer from Pfäffikon, Switzerland
Question: Hi Jim. In chess we usually attack the weakness of the opponent as soon as possible and as hard as we can. When the opponent defends his weakness, this opens the board elsewhere. This is a simple but most successful strategy. Wins just by doing the opposite are very rare. My question: Why did we not attack their shaky defense against the run from the very beginning, but only after halftime? Best regards Reinhard
Jim: Hi Reinhard. I’m not going to argue with you on this one. That’s the biggest question coming out of the game. I know one counter has been the Titans didn’t have the ball many plays, and only had it for 10:08 of the 30 minutes in the first half. My response to that is if you’re running the ball with Derrick Henry – and running it well – then you control the ball longer and have more plays.
Mike Tate from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim I cannot for the life of me figure out the teams thought process. WHY in the world did Henry only have two carries in the first half against one of the worse ranked run defenses. I get the whole change of pace back but Dion Lewis is not it I was almost certain he would be traded. Why didn't we keep McNichols I'm sure he would've been a lot more productive than our current option? So will the HC ever do what’s best for the team or keep dragging us down trying to make the Titans the Patriots of the south. Thanks for your time
Jim: Hey Mike. Sounds like you and Reinhard from Switzerland are thinking along the same lines…
Xavier Smith from Bel Air, Maryland
Question: Good morning Jim. Not going to lie it’s been rough being a Titans fan this season. That game against the Panthers was about our season as a whole summed up -- did nothing in the first half and second half decided to play. My question is for what reason would Art Smith not utilize Henry as the premier back that he is. Not going to say play calling is bad because well false starts and holding penalties can take a guy like Henry out of the game. But Dion Lewis? I mean come on man. I feel bad for Derrick going in (his 4th) year and we have an OC that still can’t use him correctly. Secondly, Tannehill is an upgrade over Mariota just in a sense of giving our receivers a chance, but at what point does Vrabel need to be held accountable for our offenses lack of focus and discipline? Every week same excuse I don’t even bother watching post-game press conferences anymore.
Jim: Hey Xavier. During his presser, Vrabel did say the penalties put the team in unfavorable down-and-distance situations, making it tougher to run Henry. And he cited the 15-yard run and seven-yard run by Lewis in explaining why he was used. Hey, I get where the frustration and questions from the fans come from on this topic, especially after seeing the success Henry had in the second half. If it makes you feel better, the head coach has had to answer a lot of questions about the struggles of the offense. I do agree the penalties and mistakes are getting old.
Darris Mays from Lewisville, Texas
Question: Hey Jim! I'll get straight to the point. What are we doing with D. Henry. I'm sorry ,but we need new coaches. The 49ers ran all over this team and 2 carries for D. Henry in the first half. Jim you're a great writer and a even better listener, maybe you can coach this team. I can't lie I'm mad as hockey sticks. We have Kansas City Chiefs coming to our house, a must win for the Titans. I seriously think it's time to make some changes with this coaching staff. I still love the Titans, not the game plan. Titans 4 life
Jim: Hey Darris. I’ll stick to writing. Believe me, no one wants to see me coaching. Your complaint is a popular one this week. And the challenge this week is a big one. After some clunkers vs the Bills, Jaguars, Broncos and Panthers, things now get really tough with the Chiefs.
W Luke from Honolulu, Hawaii
Question: JRob and the Titans fired Mularkey and hired because they wanted to maximize talent and unlock Marcus’ potential. Vrabel was supposed to come and “maximize talent.” The only things he has maximized are the offensive woes, idiot decisions, and the fan base’s fury. Instead of developing him, he gave up on Marcus. I remember Mularkey said during his press conferences, whenever 8 is under center, the team believed that it can come back from whatever deficit; and they did. During Vrabel’s tenure, the idea that the Titans can come back and win from at 17-point deficit doesn’t exist. Not even the majority of the offense believes that anymore, especially with 8 on the bench. It’s so evident in their body language. Rather than helping a player work through some struggles, Vrabel didn’t believe in Marcus and used him as a scapegoat. He never truly believed in 8 to lead a comeback. Well, the titans just played a real defense this week, and the real problem reared it’s ugly head once again. Good to Great? It’s a great motto for a high school cheer team. I see minimized player talent and maximized coaching ineptitude.
When will the coaching staff be held accountable?
When will JRob be held accountable for FIRING the coach of a playoff team??
Even if the team somehow makes it to the postseason (which most of us don’t believe they will), why set the team up to get a shellacking from an actual playoff team, then endure another year with Vrabel and company???
Jim: Well W Luke, I must admit this line of thinking has already gotten old to me. No one was looking to make Marcus Mariota the scapegoat. I don’t know of a person around the team who doesn’t like and respect Marcus. Marcus lost his starting job because he was playing poorly. He was far from the Lone Ranger, but there's no debating he wasn’t playing well and that led to him being replaced in the lineup by Ryan Tannehill. Marcus said himself he didn’t take advantage of his opportunity through six games and that he needed to play better. I know a lot of Mariota fans have expressed frustration because they felt like the team’s failures were pinned on him. Tannehill wasn't perfect on Sunday, but he sure as heck wasn’t the reason the team didn’t come back – just like it wasn’t all Mariota’s fault when the team up short.
Bobby Sinsabaugh from Eugene, Oregon
Question: So far in Mariota's first 4 games of the season compared to Tannehill first 4 games look like this: They both had 2 wins 2 losses but Mariots had 7 TD with 0 iNT along with 19 sacks while Tannehill had 6 TD with 4 INT along with 13 sacks. My question is when does this team stop blaming the QB and start blaming someone else like the Coaches. To me, these stats show that no matter who is at QB the same results happen and that's not because of the QB but because a system isn't working and unfortunately Mariota and soon Tannehill will take a brunt of the blame when the way I see it isn't really their faults!
Jim: This is really selective stat-grabbing Bobby. You’re ignoring starts 5 and 6 for Marcus, when he threw zero touchdown passes, was intercepted twice, and was sacked eight times. And you're pinning the Denver loss on Tannehill? He entered the game when the team was down 13-0 in the third quarter. Give me a break, Bobby. Tannehill has started three games and thrown 6 TDs vs 3 INTs and nine sacks. Not great, but let’s at least be fair. And I’ll say this again: No one is blaming the QB. Personally, I think it’s fair to question some of the decisions that have been made so far this season. I'm sure the same can be said in any city where the NFL team is below .500. Based on what I have seen in the last three games, however, the decision to start Tannehill over Mariota isn’t one of them. Believe me, I like Marcus and I think he can still play. I hope things turn out well for him no matter what. But Tannehill has been the better starting QB so far this season, comparing Mariota's six starts to Tannehill's three.
Nathan Hird from Battle Creek, Michigan
Question: Pathetic Jim. Absolutely pathetic. Have a positive play get it erased with a penalty. That seems to be the Titan formula this year. Every week I keep thinking maybe something will click for the offensive line and every week it’s the same. We are too talented to play like this.
I watched Tannehill with Miami and never was a fan, but man has he been playing like a warrior. I hope Nate Davis and Jamil Douglas don’t get him injured with their poor play.
Jim: Um, thanks for weighing in, Nathan.
Tony Johnson from Ewa Beach, Hawaii
Question: Hey Jim, long time Oilers/Titans fan! My question is, was Succop brought back too soon? He looked shaky and probably should’ve waited a couple more weeks to come back, Parkey was doing alright the last few weeks.
Jim: Hey Tony. Ryan said himself he had a good week of practice and felt good. He didn’t kick the ball well on Sunday, there’s no doubt about that. It’s an easy second-guess to say the team should’ve stuck with Parkey. If the team would’ve kept him and he’d missed a few, I imagine more than a few folks would’ve said the team should’ve trusted Succop and let him kick.
Nancy Hernandez from Meridian, Idaho
Question: Am I the only person that thinks our O-line is the problem and not Marcus Mariota? Plus has everyone forgotten the fact that this kid has had a different offensive coordinator every year that he’s been with the team! Does the organization really think they are supporting him as the team’s franchise QB?
Jim: No disrespect Nancy, but these topics are so early October ….
Joe Arcudi from Merrimack, New Hamshire
Question: Disgusting effort. Those of you that still thinks this team can turn this season around..... you are dreaming. Not only are the Titans inconsistently inconsistent they are the worst team in the division. Lack of discipline and effort on Sunday. They made a winnable road game turn into a blowout.
Here is the dilemma -- We know the GM and HC are not going anywhere. So with that said what do we do know? The answer is...… no one has any idea. This is a franchise in real trouble and in danger of a rebuild. I think the most frustrating thing is how other teams make offense look fluent and easy at times, but the Titans scratch and claw for every darn yard. Just disgusted all the way around...… One other thing... check the remainder of the schedule. I can't even find 8 wins. God bless you Jim having to follow this mess daily! Good to great huh? How about mediocre to bad.
Jim: Well, Joe, I’ll just agree with you on this: What’s on the horizon on the schedule is a lot more daunting than what’s in the rear-view mirror. I know coach Vrabel said the football season begins in November, but the blunders from September and October have sure put the team in a bad spot.
Terry Rogers from Bowling Green, Kentucky
Question: Jim. I am a founding PSL holder and every year I think that it’s going to get better but it just doesn’t.
1. I think Mike Vrabel is a good man and a good coach. How can our offense look him in the eye after the stinking performance they put up?
2. I think that we have a very good defense. How can our offense look them in the eyes after the stinking performance they put up? QB play not the problem
Jim: Hey Terry. Appreciate your loyalty.
As for your questions, even as a defensive-minded guy, Vrabel isn’t passing the buck when it comes to the offense. If the offense is stinking, he’s taking ownership of that, too. And yes, there have been too many stretches of stinking.
As for the offense letting down the defense, I’ve heard a lot of offensive players say they’re not holding up their end of the bargain. The offense needs to step it up, because they’ve wasted a lot of good defensive efforts.
Mortimer Sneed from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim, I made the mistake of looking on Twitter after the Panthers game. I would guess the entire Titans organization sometimes wishes it had gotten into a less vitriolic line of work, like managing divorce settlements or competing in national politics or something. Whooeee... How can people be so goofy as to think these coaches and players don't care or are doing the wrong thing on purpose?
The organization I see from the outside is doing the best it can top to bottom in a very tough business, putting its money, its physical well-being and its heart on the line in order to excel. I see people who are in this business because they are competitive, they want to win and they've been better at it than the vast majority of others.
I would love to play for a coach who always puts his players first when they succeed and himself first when they fail. I've seen Vrabel do that again and again. JRob too. It's not hard to find other teams with a record like ours that are sniping at one another. I haven't heard of us doing that yet.
Yeah that Panthers loss was demoralizing. Yes, we need to stop doing the same wrong things over and over again on the O-line. Yes, I'm disgusted to remember LeWan dressed up like Boss Hog smoking cigars and then be out for four games for taking a banned substance and play that poorly when he returns. I bet he's lost more sleep over it than I have though. C'mon fans. Titan Up.
Jim: Hey Mortimer. Appreciate the sense of humor. And you’re right – Twitter is brutal on gamedays when the game isn’t going well. I can't lie, I muted a few folks on Sunday. I didn't block anyone, but I muted them, especially the guy who told me to (expletive) off. I called my buddy Ricky Merritt into action and he chatted with him, and the guy deleted the tweet, but the damage was done. It also opened my eyes to the power of Ricky. …
And thanks for your comments. The first nine weeks of the season have been agonizing for a lot of folks. And there’s no doubt players, coaches, the GM and members of the team’s scouting department are all frustrated and looking for ways to right the ship now and moving forward. No one is happy with 4-5, and no one should be. Keep going down this road and jobs could be on the line, and that impacts families. So as mad and frustrated as fans are, and I get it because they’re spending their hard-earned money and giving up their time to support the team, believe me, no one is sitting around the building watching Impractical Jokers, chuckling it up.
Michael H from Springfield, Tennessee
Question: If the Titans had a kicker who could make field goals, we would very likely be sitting at 6-3 with wins over Buffalo and Carolina. Sunday wasn't pretty, but the Titans are talented enough even with the turnovers, penalties, and self-inflicted wounds to have a good chance of winning that game if Succop makes even 2 of those FGs. Do you anticipate Vrabel re-signing Parkey? He has a solid history and is substantially better from 50+ yards.
Jim: This is true, Michael. No sure what direction this thing goes from here from a kicking standpoint. I imagine the answer will be known within the next 24 hours. I’ve covered the team for 20 years and can’t remember a year with so many issues at the position.
Scott Spurlock from Leander, Texas
Question: I have not watched the game yet.... I work 3rd shift and on Sunday nights as well.. A big reason I use NFL Game Pass ... That and good luck seeing a Titans game broadcast in Austin Texas.... Anyway I'm sure you'll get a lot of Fire The Coach, Change the QB etc typical ups and downs This week is the down week so.... Anyway seems from the stuff I read we would have been in this game if not for Missed Field Goals... I'm not happy with this season. and like everyone getting sick of excuses. But not ready to give up and want to start all over.... Stability is what this team needs more than anything else.... So this is NOT going to be our year... but we keep working and stay the course and ... Maybe next year.... for now I hope they at least look like they are improving and give us something to watch that is FUN to watch and shows us they are heading in the right direction...
Jim: Hey Scott. Just a tip: Skip the first half.
Mitch Melton from Monroe, Tennessee
Question: Hello Jim. Long-time reader first-time writer, no question just wanted to say that as much as I hated watching the Titans lose yesterday I'm gonna hate the mailbag tomorrow just as much! The fair-weather fans are not gonna be kind! But will read as always and keep my faith in the team! Thanks for all you do! #titansfannomatterwhat
Jim: Welcome into the mailbag, Mitch. Is it better or worse that you thought? Buckle up, we’re not done yet…
David Stalder from Albuquerque, New Mexico
Question: Hey, Jim. It's mind-boggling that everyone but the Titans organization sees that the offensive staff is awful. Vrabel steps up to the post-game mic and says he wants a team that does this and a team that does that, as if the reason THIS team isn't doing those things is because of their inability to consistently execute a game plan, and if they would just do all those things consistently, the team would be better. Well, he has that team, they're just being asked to execute a game plan that stinks. If Derrick Henry going 2 carries for 4 yards in the first half--and then blaming it it on the way "the first half unfolded"--isn't an indictment of ineptitude, I don't know what is. Calling 33's number on a 3rd and 1 against one of the NFL's worst rushing defenses, with 22 on the bench? Really? This organization has already cost the career of a Heisman Trophy winner, maybe it's time to start retooling the offense now, beginning with the top of the offensive staff, before they ruin the career of whatever QB they bring in next year. You can see the defense, which can no longer be considered elite, beginning to crack under the pressure of having to carry a badly coached offense.
Jim: Hey David. Thanks for weighing in…
Chris Chapman from Hermitage, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim! I hope you have a safe trip home. It’s been a min since I have posted here, largely because I haven't had any real questions to ask till now. I'm not gonna sit here and bash our Titans. I'm a die hard fan. We lost in part because we were out coached and we had 99 yards worth of penalties, and we could NOT contain Christian Mcaffery. We were also missing a very big piece along our defensive front. Jurrel Casey is a very big anchor and leader on our defense. I have a cpl of questions. Where was Jeffery Simmons? Why is Arthur Smith having such a problem adjusting his game plan during the game? He's good man but many believe he's not quite ready to handle being an Offensive Coordinator. How do you explain keeping 1 of the biggest and best running backs in league on the sidelines in the 1st half? He had 2 carries... Then he comes out in the 1st series of the 2nd half and runs all over the Panthers. Everyone likes Taylor Lewan but he has been making very costly rookie mistakes. I have faith in Coach Vrabel, I believe he and coach Pees have a chance to turn this around, but Arthur Smith's lack of OC knowledge is hurting our offense. Its not all on him, our talent on offense is awesome but its being under utilized. I'm a fan win or lose. My hope is that we learn from this loss and grow as a team. Thanks for all that you do!
Jim: Good to hear from you again Chris. Let’s go rapid-fire here:
1-Simmons played 49 of 71 snaps and was credited with four tackles (one solo, three assist), plus a quarterback pressure.
2-Hard to understand why we didn’t see more of Derrick Henry early, but I have heard coach Vrabel’s take.
3-Lewan needs to clean his game up, like several guys on the o-line.
Josh Bomar from Knoxville, Tennessee
Question: And here come the angry mail-baggers!... Rightfully so, in my opinion. Yet again, another failed effort to get over the 500 mark for the boys in blue. Another head-scratcher from Arthur Smith this game as well. 2 carries for Henry in the first half? I'm just not sure as to why he isn't receiving the touches he deserves. Tannehill finally looked like what a lot of people were expecting from our back up. I'm not sure why our offensive line coach is still employed. I know you're going to tell me it's too early on cleaning house coaching staff wise, but you and I have been watching this team long enough to know that changes are going to have to be made. Arthur just doesn't have it as an OC. He's a great guy, but just like Mariota, being a great guy doesn't win football games. Where does this team go from here Jim?
Jim: Hey Josh. Where does this team go from here? Back to the practice field on Wednesday, and then to Nissan Stadium for a game against the Chiefs on Sunday.
Sean De Mello from Carterville, Illinois
Question: Jim, thanks for having this mailbox for fans to write in. What is the coaching staff doing with Derrick Henry? None of their “game planning” makes sense. The issue of Henry’s usage has surfaced multiple times this year. Derrick Henry only had two carries the first half of football and was basically sidelined the last six minutes of the fourth quarter. Despite only really playing a quarter and a half of football, he was impressive. Derrick Henry had 99 total yards receiving and running the ball. He scored two touchdowns. He averaged about 4.8 yards a carry. What are we all missing? Why is he constantly pulled? We all know he wears defenses down as the game goes on. Vrabel can’t use the excuse we were down too many points in the first half and we had to get away from running the ball. I know reporters broached this subject at the beginning of the post game conference. I am confused!!!!!!!
Jim: Hey Sean. Glad to provide fans a chance to ask questions/voice their opinions other than seeing 140 characters of hot takes on Twitter. Some, of course, are more to the point. Wish I could make you feel better about your frustration with the lack of Henry in the game plan, but just know you're not alone. If you've made it this far you know that by now…
Jimmy Dee from Battle Ground, Washington
Question: Hi Jim, I have no question; just some comments. The Titans OL is badly banged up with Ben Jones being out and Jack Conklin being ill. Then there's the issue that Nate Davis is an inexperienced rookie. The team was also without Delanie Walker which didn't help the OL. The defense was also missing Jurrell Casey and got outplayed by the Panthers' offense. If the injured players get healthy the Titans fortunes could improve. They can still go to the playoffs. The mistakes against the Panthers are easy to pinpoint.
At least one of Tannehill's interceptions wasn't his fault because A. J. Brown had it right in his hands but he let it get away from him. If you don't blame Tannehill for his first interception, and you shouldn't, then Tannehill himself had a good game. And that is a good sign. It wasn't on Tannehill that the first-half drives weren't successful. The dropped ball by A. J. Brown, penalties on the O-line, fumble by Dion Lewis and sacks were a big part of why the first half was unsuccessful.
Dion Lewis is really hurting this team and coaches should stop using him unless Derrick Henry absolutely needs a break from the action. The OC's game plan didn't look sound because Henry should have been used a little more in the first half since the Panthers are weak against the run. The passing was good (except for A. J. Brown's drop) but I'm just saying that Henry should have gotten the ball a little more in the first half. But then again I think the reason the went all pass in the first half was because they got behind due to reasons mentioned above. I can't blame OL Coach Carter YET because he was forced to use a lot of 2nd stringers and one of his players, Nate Davis, is so new to the NFL But I still think it's on Coach Carter to get Nate Davis acclimated to the NFL soon.
If I could say one thing to offensive coaches it would be Dion Lewis can't be relied on. His fumble was part of what went wrong in the first half. He doesn't make enough good plays to offset his bad plays.
Jim: Hey Jimmy Dee. Thanks for your opinions. Who has time for questions, right? 😊
Robert Kisner from Saint Marys, Georgia
Question: Vrabel says the Titans are not playing well enough but I believe they are playing as well as they are coached. I don’t think they are coached well enough as a matter of fact they are being coached very poorly so guess what they will play poorly. If you want them to play better COACH better.
Jim: Hey Robert. He actually said they’re not playing well enough or coaching well enough. I just hope I’m answering questions well enough …
Have a great week everyone!