Jim Wyatt, SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Welcome to the first weekend since July without the NFL.
Hey, at least the Titans mailbag is still going.
Ramon Powell from San Antonio, Texas
Question: Hey Jim. If there was one play that you could change for the 2018 Tennessee Titan season what would it be? I’m torn between the keeper fake that got Mariota injured, the Stocker dive, or the 2 point try in London. What say ye??
Jim: Hey Ramon. Good question. I’d say the two-point call in London. I liked the decision to go for it, and to try and win the game. I just didn’t like the actual play call. Thought it was a low-percentage play from the one. I would have given the ball to Luke Stocker. (Just kidding). It’s easy to say now, but I would have given it to Derrick Henry.
Anthony Bilotta from Niagara Falls, Canada
Question: Hi Jim. I’m a longtime Oilers/Titans from the north and got to see a home Titans game this year. Great city and atmosphere but saw a terrible game. Was at the Ravens debacle in the rain. Not fun. I’m a bit frustrated that with the talent Marcus has we go with a run first attitude many first and second downs. Why not get #8 in a rhythm early and not put him in 3rd and long situations where he is vulnerable? Also, with 2 diverse backs why not dust off a retro 2 back set once in a while to create a wrinkle. Add in Marcus’ ability it would present chaos for opponents. You think new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith might get more creative? Keep up the great work on keeping us connected to the team Jim!
Jim: Hey Anthony. Yes, that was a terrible day – and a terrible game. I think you can wipe the slate clean from last year. Anything that happened under OC Matt LaFleur is irrelevant with Smith now calling the shots. I’m anxious to see how it goes myself.
Rico Schiller from Denmark, Europe
Question: Just wanted to say hi from Denmark again. … I am hoping that the Titans will stick with Mariota – I really like the guy, even though he gets too many injuries. I bought his jersey, which is my 3rd Titans jersey. I really hope I don’t have to buy a new one again, so I’m hoping for lucky number three (the other two were Young and Locker). I have a little heads up for management/scouting. It looks like this will be the year that a Dane is drafted – he would be the first since Morten Andersen (and we all know how that went!). He is even a guard, which we need, so that would be perfect 🙂 Would love to see a Danish player with the Titans. Keep an eye out for him: Hjalte Froholdt, Arkansas. The only question I really have is on Vaccaro. I thought he did a nice job this year – and I prefer him to Cyprien. Do you think that the franchise tag would be in play, if they can’t find common ground?
Jim: Hey Rico. Good to hear from you again. Thanks for the heads up on Hjalte! He’s a big boy! Will keep an eye out for him. As for Vaccaro, I thought he played really well. I do think the team has an interesting decision to make between him and Cyprien, because I do think it’s going to be tough to keep both. I can’t see the franchise tag being an option, though. I haven’t see the number for this year, but it was $11.287 for safeties last year. So I don’t believe that’s going to happen.
Kevin Hoffpauir from Port Neches, Texas
Question: Hi Jim, big fan of the Titans since the Oiler days. Living close to Houston and watching them growing up I couldn’t see myself rooting for another team when they left for Tennessee. I know you have mentioned you don’t like talking about the draft until after free agency but looking at all the holes we have I feel best case is to pick up a DL to match up with Jurrell Casey. Too many edge rushers to choose from to not get one in the 2nd or 3rd round. I like our young receivers and I think Jonnu Smith showed some flash before getting hurt. Do you think Jon Robinson will look to trade back to pick up some extra picks? I think picking up an extra 2nd or 3rd rounder would benefit us getting a good IOL as well
Jim: Hey Kevin. I wouldn’t put it past the GM to try and acquire more picks, but I also know he’s capable of anything. Just look at last year, when he made two trades to move up, and as a result the team had just four draft picks. As you mentioned, so much hinges on free agency. If the team makes some moves and fills some holes in March, then maybe it won’t need as many draft picks in April, but it works both ways. I do like the idea of adding beef on the defensive line.
Joquez Richardson from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim do you see the offense putting Dion Lewis in more in the slot/or putting him in with Derrick Henry in the game to open things up more?
Jim: Hey Joquez. Arthur Smith didn’t give a lot of hints at his presser this week. He sure made it sounds like Derrick Henry will be a big factor this fall, but he mentioned Lewis as well. I suspect he’ll find a way to get both of them on the field plenty. Lewis is a tough matchup in the slot, but the Titans have some true wideouts that could play there as well.
Tommy Mo from Kaneohe, Hawaii
Question: Hey Jim. I was wondering if you can expand on the theme “nasty” players that Jon Robinson has implemented for his player search in the upcoming free agency and draft? And more specifically, what he is looking for in players that he hasn’t in past drafts?
Jim: Hey Tommy. I can only tell you what the GM said, and here’s how it went: I specifically asked Robinson at the Senior Bowl if the team needs more nasty players up front. He smiled, and responded, “We’re looking for smart, fast, and nasty. Maybe I’ll add ‘nasty’ to my (list).” Then he took it and ran with it. “With those lines of scrimmage, the meaner and the nastier you are within the confines of the whistle, and the snap, the better,” Robinson said. “We’ve certainly had our fair share of it. We have some tough, nasty guys on our football team. But it is like anything else – if you can have more tough, and nasty guys, the better. It is like a pack of wolves. I wouldn’t want to mess with a wolf, but if you have three or four wolves and you add another four or five wolves, I’d rather go into a fight with seven or eight wolves instead of three. You kind of like your chances a little bit more.” It was a fun conversation, and I noticed how it spread like wildfire on social media and blogs. There’s no doubt Robinson is looking for more disruptive players on the d-line, and some fierce competitors. I took it to mean he’s looking for more guys like Jurrell Casey.
Jay Hodshon from Raleigh, North Carolina
Question: Seems to be some confusion as to when the first male Cheerleaders participated in a Super Bowl. Isn’t it true the 1999 Titans had male cheerleaders in the Super Bowl?
Jim: Hey Jay. I saw where the Rams had male cheerleaders at the game on Sunday, like they have all season. The Titans did have male members of the team back then as well, and they were called “yell leaders”, but they did some stunts as well. Their last season with the team was 2003.
Craig Horton from Elmore, Alabama
Question: Hello Jim. My question is this: Will the front office address our backup QB situation this year? While I like Mariota, the truth is he has regressed the last 2 years and can’t stay healthy. Because of those factors we were forced to rely on Blaine Gabbert. We were a TOTALLY different team with Gabbert under center and I hope that never happens again. The FO should either bring in a guy that can outplay Marcus or at least be reliable. What are your thoughts?
Jim: Hey Craig. I hear ya. But I’ll also say this: How many teams, other than maybe the Eagles, would look the same with their backup? Across the NFL, there’s always a drop off from the starter to the backup. Do the Titans need to upgrade, and will they? I asked Robinson this a few weeks ago, and he wouldn’t commit. But the fact he drafted a QB (Luke Falk) in last year’s draft (even after signing Gabbert) let’s you know he’s at least exploring his options.
Ken Tripp from Coventry, Vermont
Question: Thank you for your platform for Titan fans to ask our questions. I am a love-ya-blue fan since Earl Was introduced as an Oiler and followed the team to Tennessee. My question is did the coaching staff see any spark from Luke Falk that would have them trying to get him back in TN? Blaine did well for us but I would like to see if we are looking to upgrade our backup QB we might look no further than Luke. Also looking forward to the draft Titan-Up 2019!
Jim: Hey Ken. Well timed here. The Titans were interested in bringing Falk back to the practice squad after they cut him, but he was signed by the Dolphins. He ended the season on IR, but he remains under contract with the Dolphins, so he’s not an option unless he’s waived by Miami.
Bradley Moulder from Kansas City, Missouri
Question: Hey Jim. First time writing in. Glad you keep us not in Nashville informed on what’s going on with the team. I have many questions but I’ll limit myself the first time. Who’s plan was it to be a zone blocking team? Was is it Vrabel from seeing it in Houston or LaFluer? It seems we are looking at some guards at the east-west shrine game so I was just wondering. If its Vrabel’s plan to be zone blocking then the next OC I’m sure will have to know how to run it effectively.
Jim: Hey Bradley. Smith this week was asked if the Titans will remain primarily a zone blocking team. Here’s what he said: “Well, to answer your question, zone is a great starting point for us. There’s a lot of schemes that fit Derrick (Henry), that fit Dion (Lewis), that fit David Fluellen, or whoever else is going to be on our roster we’re going to hand the ball to. Whether you’re running zone, gaps, pin-pulls, doesn’t matter, zone reads, there’s a certain mentality we want to play with coming off the football. We want to be physical and knock people back. That’s not necessarily saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to only run gap schemes, we’re only going to run zone schemes.’ We’re going to try to give us an advantage.”
Kasen Conklin from Spring Hill, Tennessee
Hey Jim: I was wondering with the draft coming up are you thinking of drafting more offensive play makers or defensive. With such a good defensive year I was thinking we shouldn’t make too many changes to the defense maybe pick up a young MLB replacing Brian Orakpo. I was thinking we should get an offensive lineman or two. What’s your opinion?
Jim: Biggest needs in my opinion, in no particular order: Edge rushers, receivers, interior o-linemen, and big and disruptive d-linemen. Some depth at other positions also needed. These could be addressed in free agency and/or the draft.
Titans Mailbag: Jim Wyatt Answers Questions from Fans
Jim Wyatt, SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR