This Titans' mailbag is a really good read

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Hello. Welcome to the pre-Thanksgiving edition of the too-infrequent mailbag. 

I appreciate all the good questions you fired at me this week and did my best to get to a lot of them.

Derrick Henry Fans

It was great to catch up with Jeff.

I think the relationships are similar, looking at things before Fisher and Floyd Reese had their rift.

Like those two, Mike Vrabel and Jon Robinson work with a singular purpose, to get the Titans to a Super Bowl, and they do it with a collective plan they generally do well to stick to and with an ability to have fun and laugh.

That said, I saw Fisher and Reese from a much closer range. They allowed for it and it was a much different time. For a good share of their tenures, I could call either any time and a good share of the conversation would be on the record. I’m pretty sure you know that’s not the case now.

There is a lot I know about the team now that I cannot say, but there was way more back then. So I have less insight.

Much bigger sample size for Reese/Fisher. Their worst was worse and their best was better so far.

Eric Grove: I clearly am in 2021 mode like we all should be, but best I counted we could have almost 30 players hitting the market across the board this off-season (admittedly some of them are in-season plug and play guys who likely won’t be back.) It’s hard to gauge which players are seen as priorities heading into the offseason when some have had sporadic playing time with newcomers stepping up. If you could name 3 of them you see as top priorities for re-sign at different price points, who would they be? I’m seeing obviously Landry, but others could come from a myriad of directions. Linebacker? Secondary, or even Kicker?

As you hit on, Harold Landry is clearly No. 1. They've developed a pass rusher in-house. That's a huge commodity. If he hit the market and left they'd have to replace him. They need to not have to replace him.

Ben Jones is 32. He's not as good as he was last year but he's still good. If they move on they'd really have to find a smart, tough replacement. There is a big decision coming there. Can they get him on a two-year deal that might be one while drafting his successor or further grooming Aaron Brewer?

There are a ton of guys on the list, but nobody who's a huge concern after that. There is going to be significant turnover at inside linebacker. Maybe Ola Adeniyi, a great signing this year, would be next most important to keep for me.

Dee Mayes Sr. Why was Foreman cut before the season started?

He wasn’t. They simply didn't retain him after 2020.

He spent some time with the Falcons in August, but from Aug. 31 to Nov. 6 when the Titans brought him back he was on the street.

It's not great.

But let’s not base its quality on grades. I presume you’re using PFF. Base its quality on production.

Does the unit create room for running backs? Generally, yes. The last two weeks are hard to gauge with Derrick Henry out of the picture, lesser backs in place and particularly good run defenses on the field. But this can be a good run blocking line.

It’s not nearly as good a pass protecting line, though the offense collectively has figured out how to cut down the sacks. It gave up six in the opener and seven against the Jets. Recent totals have been one, three, three and two.

Teams shoot the games and then submit them to the league. Then every team can pull down any game from there. Pretty simple.

Ted Smith Do you think Tommy Hudson's possible return could spark the TE play? ...also, do you think Marcus Johnson can string together big weeks and possibly become a big contributor?

C’mon now Ted. Hudson had three catches for 31 yards in three games. You’re hardly the only person I’ve heard this from.

But how is a guy with that production going to spark the tight end group? He’s not as good as Geoff Swaim, MyCole Pruitt or the invisible Anthony Firkser, though he’ll certainly dive into block more and better than Firkser.

I understand people are looking for causes for hope in the few areas where the Titans have shot blanks. Hudson can be a supplementary part and maybe he can do what Swaim has been doing. But a big positional spark? He is not Jonnu Smith.

It would be great if Marcus Johnson’s performance against the Saints was the start of something. The Titans are very much a game-to-game offense so the plan against Houston and the shape the game takes could be completely different. But Johnson is the best of the rest of the receivers after A.J. Brown.

Nathan Cherolis. None of these RBs are special, but do you think the distribution of carries is also causing some problems with them? It sure seems to me that you find the guy that has the hot hand and stick with him. Constantly pulling them on and of the field just looks like it keeps any of the backs from developing any kind of feel or rhythm.

We’re spoiled by watching a real bell-cow back. Derrick Henry is a real rarity. Most teams work some sort of split. So Todd Downing and Tony Dews simply need to figure it out.

Blake Beddingfield wrote about the Houston game offering a chance for the Titans to really figure out who runs what best. I’d have no problem with them putting backs in based on who’s best at what.

I understand the flow question/issue.

But they’re just going to have to deal with it as most everyone else does. I think if we do see a guy get going that they will lean on him more.

Logan Grady With regards to your current love affection with Jonathon Taylor - why do you neglect to acknowledge that nearly 70% of his yards are vs the worst teams in the NFL. Against every decent team he has floundered.

If you looked at where Derrick Henry has gotten the highest percentage of his yards, where his 200-yard games are, you'd have the same complaint.

In fact, 46 percent of Henry’s rushing yards in his 2,027-yard season in 2020 came against bottom five rush defenses. I suspect you have never, ever mentioned that. I know this is the first time I’ve even looked at it.

We don't slice and dice Henry's yards, so why would we slice and dice Taylor's? (I suspect I know why you would. Because Henry is a Titan and and you love him and because Taylor is a Colt and you hate Indianapolis.)

Yards are yards, generally. Taylor has the same amount as Henry on far fewer carries – and as Jonathan Hutton pointed out, Taylor plays on third down.

That’s it. Facts. It’s OK that another back can be really productive and impressive. That's impressive. Countering that Henry did it in fewer games is fine. He did it on a lot more carries.

It's too early for this, at least for my brain,

Head to The New York Times NFL Playoff Machine to mess with scenarios.

I put in a 4-3 finish, which for me is the worst-case scenario, with losses at New England, at Pittsburgh and to the 49ers. With that, the machine puts them 100 percent in the playoffs, with a 53 percent chance of the No. 1 seed. Flip the 49ers game to a win and they have a 90 percent chance of the bye.

Ian Feilmann Could the super high number of players used by the team thus far this season be reflective of a super conservative approach to dealing w injuries in this longer season, playing to have as many as healthy as possible for the playoffs versus limping along and being worse off at the end of the year?

No. I mean I think they generally play it safe with injuries. I think most teams do, not pushing guys to return too early for fear of re-injury that will cost them more games in the long run. The Titans have more leeway now certainly. Seven guys are already out for Sunday. No intrigue for the inactive list.

But they need to win games and I don’t think they are casually saying “We can sit Teair Tart against the Saints and think of the playoffs.” They sat Tart against the Saints because Tart had a groin injury that didn’t allow him to play. If it was good enough for him to play, I believe he would have played.

Ethan Jordan What do you think is the best uniform combination for the Titans? What about with the old Titans uniforms?

I know there are a lot of people who are really into this. I'm sorry to disappoint you with this answer but I am not.

When I watch other games I might say, “That looks really good,” or “That looks really bad.” But I honestly don’t pay a lot of attention to what the Titans wear or particularly care. I do generally like the light blue – as I have a particular affection for Columbia blue which is basically what their light blue is.

Bob Jordan It appears the Titans believe Radunz is better suited at OG than OT. Does this mean we go for OT again in the first round? How is the OT crop this year? Given our suspect draft history of late at the OT position, are we better off going the FA route?

Good one, Bob.

They weren’t talking about Dillon Radunz as a guard when they drafted him. If he winds up a long-term guard I think it’s at least a partial fail even if he’s really good inside. They needed a right tackle and will have failed to solve it with a 2019 first-rounder (Isaiah Wilson) and a 2020 second-rounder.

Robinson hit on Nate Davis, but otherwise, his offensive line drafting has been quite poor. The Titans have signed one mid-range free agent in Jones and one giant free agent lineman in Rodger Saffold and hit on both. So yeah, I’d say go find one of those if they are on the market. (I have no idea ab out the OT draft pool yet.)

Bryan Harris Is this week, against an obviously inferior opponent, the time to get right with the offense and establish a dominant running game with the Henry replacements to get that going? Or is it a perfect time to start trying new things out in the passing game and see if they can catch a spark?

The Titans might have a dominant running game against the terrible Texans. But they are not going to have a generally dominant running game with who they now have on the roster.

I’m not sure why you think they have to do one or the other this week. Why not both?

You're worried about pushing D’Onta Foreman and Adrian Peterson aside for Henry if he's available? Look, even in a best-case scenario, they are only going to do so well. I think people are expecting way too much. Maybe in combination, they’ll do something against a crap team like Houston, but not against quality teams.

Don't be worried. If/when Henry is ready, you determine what he can handle and you put him on the field for it. Pretty simple. I suspect you're worried about the feelings of the replacements? They know they are replacements.

Bring them on. I think a good share of Nashville sports fans would love to have them move here, and would really love to have an AL East team considering the visiting teams they’d bring most often.

The question, of course, is financing. Downtown is the ideal spot. Somewhere along the river, preferably close to Nissan Stadium.

Kuharsky megaphoneBut it’s really hard to get that land and to ask Metro Nashville and Davidson County to foot the public part of the bill. (A billionaire should buy them, strike a deal for land and then build his own place.)

There are quality spots in Williamson County along or near I-65, though I really don’t prefer a suburban park no matter how much you can create around it to make it a destination. It’d be close to me, so I’d be excited on a proximity level.

Last I’ve read the Rays seem set on the Tampa-Montreal split. If Nashville is going to be a relocation city, we need that to go badly first.

You are not authorised to post comments.

Comments powered by CComment