NASHVILLE – Welcome to the second quarter of the NFL season.
And to another edition of the Titans mailbag.
The team’s 2-2 start has generated plenty of feedback – good and bad -- over the past four weeks, but that’s OK. That’s what I’m here for.
And if you’ve made it in here – whether you're from Nashville, Australia or Mexico – you’re here for the weekend mailbag, so let’s get to it, starting Down Under …
Kevin Whittington from Brisbane, Australia
Question: Hi Jim. Titans fan from Australia, just wondering if anything happened to Delanie in Sunday’s game, he didn't get many targets? Is he carrying an injury or was it just how the game played out?
Jim: G'day Kevin. Delanie was targeted just twice last week, and he made one catch – the 500th of his career. But he played just 20 of 64 snaps (31%). The reason? He was slowed all week with a knee injury, and he only practiced the Friday before the game. I suspect you’ll see a lot more of him vs. the Bills. After sitting out Wednesday’s practice he’s been back out there the last few days and he’s looking a lot better.
Austin Thomas from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: Good Morning Mr. Wyatt. Hope your day is going well. My name is Austin and I just have a question about uniforms. I know sometimes the team wears light colors in higher heat situations, but we have yet to see the home jersey this year. I’ve always wondered, who decides what jerseys the Titans wear on Sunday’s and when do they make that decision?
Jim: Hey Austin. Good question. Ultimately, the owner has the final say but Amy Adams Strunk also takes input from the GM/HC and the equipment staff. The home team gets the pick of jerseys and those have to be turned in over the summer, in June. Then the road team has their choice. The britches, as I like to call them, sometimes aren’t decided until a week out. You have seen all white jerseys this year, as the Titans have been at the mercy of the home teams for their three road games, and they’re wearing white again Sunday because of the heat. But other colors are coming, including the light blues, which I really like.
David Hernandez from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon Mexico
Question: Hi, Jim, Petrolero (Oiler / Titan) fan since 1977 I have always been in good and bad times with the team. I don't lose hope of suddenly returning to a Super Bowl and winning (I made a promise to my son that we will be at the stadium that day). I have not had the opportunity to attend a game in the Nissan Stadium and in the TV broadcasts you cannot appreciate the true atmosphere in the stadium. My questions are the following: How much the number of fans attending the stadium has increased ? Is it still the same support as there was in 2000? Noise level? I remember the games in the Astrodome that was the "house of pain" and it really was .... TITAN UP !!!
Jim: Hola David. I’m not going to sit here and tell you the stadium is as electric as it was in 2000 because it’s not. Back then, all the games were sold out and it was off-the-charts loud. But it’s getting closer, and evidence of that came during the season finale last year against the Colts. The place was sold out, and it was loud. Fans were rowdy for the home opener this year but left disappointed. The support is there, and I get the sense a lot of folks are out there ready to get on board. The team needs to do its part to keep bringing them back by winning. The good news is the Titans have had a lot of success at home of late, with a record of 16-5 in the last 21 games at Nissan Stadium.
Luke Atherton from Alexandria, Pennsylvania
Question: Hey Jim, I'm a young fan who is 17 from Pennsylvania and I've been a fan of the Titans since I became interested in football. After AJ Brown's performance, is there any chance his involvement in the offense is amplified? Also what are the steps the team is taking to shut down, or stall, the Bills shutdown defense?
Jim: Hey Luke. Good to hear from you. I think A.J.’s going to get more and more chances moving forward. He’s gaining confidence, and the coaches are gaining confidence in him. As for Tennessee’s plans vs. the Buffalo defense, the team needs to get an early lead like last week in Atlanta and then dictate the flow of the game instead of the other way around. That’s easier said than done, of course. That Buffalo defense made Tom Brady look like an average QB last week.
David Hargis from Louisville, Kentucky
Question: Jim, Last week I noticed the great improvement in the O-line's performance against the falcons coincided with Nate Davis's entry into the right guard rotation. I think everyone across the line showed improvement as compared to the Sacksonville game. You have to love that kind of performance jump in a rookie's first game experience. I think we will see more of the same as the season progresses. Getting Lewan back is only icing on the cake. I think the Falcons game showed what the Titans can be with Mariota, a couple of monster wr's , and a big 4th quarter dose of Derrick Henry. Also, Kudos to Arthur for the offensive diversity. I saw everything from timing based routes downfield to Mariota keepers around the edge. The shift away from the "pure playaction" passing game seemed to work wonders for us.
.500 is a way of life for Titans fans, but I am looking forward to seeing this team solidify in the coming weeks. Playoffs or bust.
Jim: Hey David. Getting Lewan back will be big, and I liked what I saw from Davis last week. I want to see more of him. The hope here is to keep it going and improve on the 9-7 records of the past three seasons, which is actually a .563 percentage, but who’s counting? 😊
Benjamin Bradshaw from Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Question: Hey Jim hope your week is going great. Was wondering how Cameron Batson is going with his recovery? Do you think Dennis Kelly will take over for right guard till Nate Davis is completely caught up due to missing time? Ohh and I am going to the Titans vs Colts game December 1st is there any word on if titans fans meeting anywhere for tailgating or anything like that and do you have any recommendations on what to do and places to eat downtown? Thanks again.
Jim: Hey Benjamin.
Going rapid fire here:
-Cameron Batson is improving, but he’s not eligible to play this year since he was placed on Injured Reserve prior to the roster cut to 53.
-No on Dennis Kelly at guard. The way to get Davis caught up is by playing him.
-Too early to know on the December 1 game. Check back closer to time.
-Restaurants in Indy: St. Elmo Steak House (expensive), Harry and Izzy’s (right down the street, not as expensive, and really good), Palomino (moderate), and Weber Grille. And one dandy on the outskirts of town: Iaria’s at 317 S College Avenue – it’s a family-owned Italian spot, it’s delicious, you get a ton of food, and it's not too pricey.
Morgan Reynolds from Melbourne, Australia
Question: G'day Jim. Well, what a difference 10 days can make. I enjoyed watching the win over the Falcons, and am hoping for a consistent few weeks with some tough, but winnable, games. I had asked previously about the nature of supporting an American football franchise, and how the cycle of performances, good and bad, can impact a fan base. I have loved referring to the Titans as 'my team' and am proud to wear my No 8 jersey over here in the lead up to our Aussie Rules grand final. I think this year has been more of a roller coaster, with an outstanding win over the Browns followed by a couple of painful losses to division rivals. I was going to ask if it is always like this, with a cycle of years investing in a QB (and more), and then when the dust settles, the knives come out and the despair of having to go to the well again to find another QB is palpable. It is a tough thing to deal with, as I have no comparisons in my Aussie Rules, except the despair and pain felt by consistently being inconsistent.
Anyway, I hope with Taylor Lewan back our offensive line can continue to work to protect Marcus and he can find the time and space needed to continue this positive turn. I also hope that Arthur Smith dials up some more positive plays in the first half, that was something beautiful to watch...and don't take the foot off the gas and be positive. Cheers mate!
Jim: G’Day, Morgan. Man, the Titans are popular in Australia, huh? It’s a week to week league, and fans, media and teams all deal with it. Win one week and there’s optimism, look bad and lose the next and it’s doom and gloom. The really good teams find a way to stay off the roller coaster and win on a consistent basis. The Titans are trying to get there. Getting Lewan back will help, and I like what I’ve seen from OC Arthur Smith. He’s a much better play-caller with a lead, but that can be said about every OC. Cheers mate!
Steve Shapiro from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim. Why have the Titans worked out no-name QBs this week? Are they still not convinced Logan Woodside is worth the #3 position coming in from the practice squad?
Jim: Woodside was placed on practice squad injured reserve a few weeks ago because of an elbow injury. He’s not eligible to play for the Titans in 2019.
Mike Frahm from Correctionville
Question: Hey Jim, where is Amie Wells?
Jim: Hey Mike. Based on your location, not so sure I should answer this one. Unless that's Correctionville, Iowa, and if that's the case you can find her on the sideline on Sunday as the sideline reporter for Titans Radio.
Joe Arcudi from Merrimack, New Hampshire
Question: Hey Jim. I think we should petition Titan nation to officially change our name to the Tennessee Rollercoasters. We can get Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde to be our mascot. Boy are we the most unpredictable team in the league or what?
Just like last year we are at a critical point in the schedule. we CANNOT afford to lose to the Bills like we did last year. We went into a downward spiral after that loss. Going into that game I think every Titan fan was looking ahead to a possible division victory... and what we ended up with was yet another 9-7 middle of the road record. You had mentioned in one answer a couple of weeks ago that we have been 9-7 the last three years (as a positive). I have to say it only resulted in one playoff appearance.
I mentioned last week I am a big Marcus fan and I want him to be the guy for the next ten years but he has to show us something over a long stretch. Over a four year period his name should really be changed to Marcus Mediocre. I realize all the coaching changes have not been ideal for him... but lets face it the good ones deal with that and make it work. If we are really going to be a team that actually looks to get to the Super Bowl opposed to eek into the playoffs every year Marcus has to be the guy.
I do have another thought about our identity. I know Vrabel wants to be a tough minded running football team but don't you really have to be careful not to turn into "Fisher Ball?" In today's NFL don't you have to be able to beat the good teams by outscoring them at times? We all know Jeff wanted to win every game 13-10 and boy we sure don't need that philosophy anymore.
One question for you after that long-winded set of notes.... Our DC will not be around too much longer. Is there someone on the staff the Titans are grooming to take over to continue our current defensive philosophy? I know Vrabel is obviously a defensive-minded guy but I doubt he wants to deal with taking over the defense.
Jim: Hey Joe. Thanks for chiming in. You killed it with the one-liners. As for your one question: Who said the DC (Dean Pees) won’t be around much longer? I heard the same thing about Dick LeBeau for about 10 years and he kept coming back on one-year contracts. Just being around Dean the last year or so, he sure seems to enjoy being around the game, and the players and coaches. Not so sure the end is near – he tried retirement at the end of the 2017 season and it didn’t take.
David Stalder from Albuquerque, New Mexico
Question: Hey Jim. The Earl Campbell piece made me cry. Nostalgia. I was at the '78 Monday Night Oiler/Dolphin game and watched number 34 run away from me down the sideline for a TD in his rookie season. I was 10-years-old. Nothing could ever tear me away from this team. You probably won't print this part but about a week later, my mom took me to a house party in some Houston suburb. I didn't know it at the time, but she had been dating Dan Pastorini for a couple weeks, during his blond Afro phase, and had taken me to the party to meet him. As we were driving down the street, this guy threw a football from the street corner, over my mom's Pinto, down the street, at least 60 yards to some guy we'd already passed while turning into the street. That was Dan's problem though; had a rocket launcher for an arm but threw his screen passes the same speed he threw his bombs. Don't know if Earl was at that party--would love to have met him as a ten-year-old--but I've loved him ever since and reading your piece just kind of broke me. Thanks.
Jim: Hey David. Thanks for reading the story. And yours is a pretty good one, too! It was neat to talk to Earl, and I loved seeing how the current players lined up to talk to him. He’s a legend, and I have great memories of watching him play myself.
Cody McCoy from Seattle, Washington
Question: Hi Jim. I really enjoy your mailbag column. It helps get a pulse on the Titans fan base. My question--I feel like the fanbase wants to judge Marcus on a week-to-week basis rather than on his entire season. That concerns me when the Titans play a team like the Bills, who just held Tom Brady to 150 yards, zero TDs, and 1 INT (Qbs are averaging 206 yards, 0.75 TDs, and 1.25 INTs per game against the Bills this year).
Do you feel that the coaching staff, like many of the fans, are evaluating Marcus week-to-week or are they taking the larger, season-long, approach? If Marcus were to have a rough game against a good defense like the Bills, does that really tell us much? Thanks.
Jim: Hey Cody. It’s a great question, and you’re right -- Brady’s passer rating vs. the Bills was a paltry 45.9. The Bills ugly the game up on defense. I’m not expecting a ton of points on Sunday. I think it could be ugly at times on offense. No question the coaches are looking at the big picture. They know what they’re up against. Marcus has done a great job of not turning the ball over this season, and that needs to continue. Some weeks will be better than others but the staff definitely wants to see consistency over the long haul.
Nico Marin from Brooklyn, New York
Question: First all I love reading your work, thank you. Been a fan since 02 always have and will be. I want to know is Cameron Wake ok?!!? I see he went down last week. Also why aren’t we using him more?
Jim: Hey Nico. Well, the bad news is he didn’t practice all week. He’s listed as questionable on the injury report that came out yesterday. Titans coach Mike Vrabel said on Friday there’s a chance he could still play on Sunday despite not practicing. Cameron has been good, but he was brought in to rush the passer, not to rack up tackles on run downs. So he’ll play more when the Titans have a lead and/or the opposing team is in a passing situation.
Zur Waki Mililani, Hawaii
Question: Hey Jim. I noticed in the Falcons game majority of the pass plays from the titans came in the shotgun formation. I thought it was a great decision by the coaching staff to give Marcus a little bit of extra time and space so he can observe the field and rush lanes by the defense. Do you think we may see more of this in the upcoming games?
Jim: My thinking on this, Zur: If the team’s had success, I think it will go back to the well.
Albert Gardner from Flower Mound, Georgia
Question: Hey Jim, long time reader here. My question today is not about the players/coaches, it's more to the so-called Titan fans out there. I was discussed by a fan in Tuesdays mail bag. This fan listed his 6 things to watch for in the Falcons game and was extremely negative about what was about to happen that day. First of all I'm happy to know that everything he said was totally wrong, but more than that, why is he even a Titan fan if he's so darn negative about the team. Secondly, and this is for all Titans fans, if you're not going to support the team through the good and the bad, then you're not much of fan imo. So Titan fans, TitanUp on all this negativity and let's show the world that Titan fans are the best fans in the NFL! Thanks for letting me vent Jim and Go Titans!
Jim: Hope you feel better, Albert. Hey, I do this a few times a week to gauge the temperature of the fan base. It was running hot a few weeks, huh? After a big win last week, it cooled down. We’ll see where things go next week on Sunday but either way, I appreciate all the questions/comments. My inbox has really been hopping of late.
Have a great weekend everyone!