Pickers mailbag: Retiring numbers, partial Marcus Mariota and 'Western Stars'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. --  Greetings on what is officially the first day of summer.

That's funny for someone who covers football because we've got about five weeks of summer left as training camp is our busiest time of the year. It's glorious five weeks and I shall milk them for all they are worthy.

I enjoyed your questions this week and my good mood prompts me to unlock this edition of the mailbag.

PK: Here we go again comparing things that are not comparable.

First off, I never said you have to be a Hall of Famer to get your number retired. There are levels of honors. Number retirements are clearly below Hall of Fame.TRac

In the initial ZBo debate, I'd said the Titans weren't retiring numbers and shouldn't be. So I contradicted myself by not reacting negatively when the team decided to retire Steve McNair's 9 and Eddie George's 27. Part of that is that they've pretty much been retire, unworn since those guys took them off for the last time.

But we're not going to pretend the basketball impact of Randolph on Memphis where he was 20 percent of the team when he played and the football impact of McNair and George on Tennessee where they were 9 percent when they played were comparable. They did more with less.

The Griz with Zach Randolph: .582 winning percentage and made it to one conference final.

Titans with McNair/ George: .625 winning percentage and made it to a Super Bowl and another AFC championship game. McNair won an MVP. [Unlocked.]

I’m not a big number retirement guy. But it’s clear that McNair and George did more football-wise for the Titans than Randolph did basketball-wise for the Grizzlies.

It’s also clear that the people of Memphis are unable to take a step back, assess things and acknowledge the obvious.

Cody Higgs What’s worth more? A qb who plays 10-12 games with 25 touchdowns (passes) or a qb who plays 15-16 games and throws 17 touchdowns? This is asked with the thought that Mariota’s production could go up in the coming year.

PK: Well, I don’t know that I can answer this because we’re missing a key element – the quality of the guy who plays the four or six games in the absence of the 25 TD guy. You’re talking Marcus Mariota here. I need a starting quarterback in the lineup on a regular basis. In this day and age, it’s not unreasonable for a guy to miss a start or two. But four or six?

I have trouble seeing him throwing 2.5 or 2 touchdowns a game in your 10-12 game scenario.

Parker Dobson Not a big topic so far this offseason, but I think it can be a big discussion once preseason starts. How much of Jonnu Smith do you think we see early on in the season to in some form kind of move Delanie back in slow? I still have faith Jonnu can come in at some point and take a good share of the offensive snaps at some point this season. What do you think?

PickersUnpluggedPK: I think you might have this a little backward. Delanie Walker’s recovery from the ugly dislocated ankle injury suffered in last year’s season opener is ahead of Jonnu Smith’s recovery from the knee injury he suffered Week 14. Walker did some stuff this offseason. Smith did some running on the side.

Hopefully, they are both fine for opening day. But I am not envisioning a scenario where they are going to need to monitor Walker’s usage in Cleveland.

Samuel Dean Do you think Arthur Smith will give the wide receivers more of an opportunity? Like scheme to get them open.

PK: Smith certainly has the most to work with at the position of any coordinator in recent memory, with Adam Humphries and A.J. Brown added to Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor and Tajae Sharpe. I really think the underneath game can be fantastic. And if it is that will provide opportunities to scheme some quality stuff further down the field, where they've actually done some good stuff.

PK: Since it’s way too early, I’m considering that you are forcing me to answer this.

Based on the people they have, the pass rush is the biggest weakness. Mike Vrabel clearly expects to cover that up if needed with scheme. We will see.

The biggest strength should pair well with that, as it’s the secondary. It’s a good, deep group of dependable guys who will be better in a second year working together.

PK: I came to like the three songs that were released early over time. And it’s the same with the full album. I really did not like it on my first full listen. And now I’ve probably listened to it 10 times and it’s grown on me in a big way. I don’t entirely love it, but I get it. It works as an album for sure.

I'm not big on the crooner element, and the California guys he's paying tribute to here stylistically, and their era, is not of interest to me.

"Western Stars" is an excellent song.

I also love "Stones," and "Tucson Train." If the back story of "Sundown" that Backstreets envisions is true – that it’s about an element of dementia -- it hits home for me though I don’t know that my dad has that piece of the whole deal.

Still, I can’t wait for what Springsteen records with the E Street Band in the fall and the tour in 2020.

Patrick McKay I found Vrabel's reaction to your question about passing more and modern NFL offenses to be concerning. He seemed defensive about the topic. Looking back on your interview, what is your take on the response he gave.

PK: His thinking is very straightforward. It’s all about a game plan. So if a defense is susceptible to Marcus Mariota throwing 40 passes, that’s what they will do. But the vibe he gives off certainly does suggest that it’s going to be a rare occasion when the Titans come into a game feeling that is the way to go.

The Periscope/Facebook Live Patrick is speaking of remains available to be viewed by members.

David Jackson Have we actually heard anything medical on Mariota? Is he 100% with no nerve residual effects? Could it be easily re-injured?

PK: We’ve got no such report and no answer to your question, unfortunately. If it could be easily retriggered – with something happening to his forearm or neck, they certainly wouldn’t want us to know about it. I can say there were ni indications that anything was bothering him in OTAs or minicamps, and they would have been as careful as possible if there was any risk.

apple icon 144x144 precomposedPK: Lots of unknowns for a team that’s got new pieces, but opening day is often like that. The Browns and the city will be amped up and the Titans will be overlooked by many, which I don’t think should be that big a motivator but tends to be one.

Early games are more about in-game adjustments to the unexpected than games later in the season because there is so little on film to help a team be ready in advance. I believe Mike Vrabel is good at that sort of thing.

It will be a good test against a different kind of team.

PK: It makes no sense.

I don’t understand a whole lot about the NBA including the cap and how people get traded to dump money. Those off-court ingredients are part of what has turned me off to the league. It’s all very insiderish. You’ve got to know the intricacies to understand what should be simple stuff.


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