Jim Wyatt, SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR
ORLANDO, Florida – Senior Bowl practices. Check.
Pro Bowl practices. Check.
Now, the countdown is on to Super Bowl week, and a return to Atlanta, where the Titans last played in a Super Bowl.
All of it, in one way or another, has a Titans connection, and that’s why I’ve been making the rounds.
Of course this mailbag has Titans connections every week.
And we’re starting in on another one, now…
Jordan Clift from Bowling Green Kentucky
Question: Hey Jim! I hope you and the rest of Titan Nation is having a great offseason so far. My question is going to stray away from the Marcus Mariota and OC path. With Taylor Lewan now in his 3rd straight Pro Bowl in 5 seasons, do you think he is on his way to becoming a Hall of Famer? I know, I know; those words don’t get spoken for many Titans since they’ve moved to Nashville. The way I see it is that he’s still got a lot of career left, and doesn’t seem like he’s planning on slowing down anytime soon. With hypothetically 7 pro bowls and maybe an all pro or two on his resume what’s your take on him making it? Thanks for your time Jim #TitanUp!
Jim: Oh man, Jordan. Taylor’s NFL career is off to a great start. He’s already been to more Pro Bowls than some of the best tackles in Titans history – Michael Roos (1) and Brad Hopkins (2). But Hall of Fame? Well, he has some work to do before we start discussing that…
Allen Dayan from Spring Hill, Florida
Question: Do you think Marcus will want to extend with the Titans? I’ve noticed that the successful qbs other than Brady had about twice as much time to throw. If the team doesn’t get him protection and 1 or 2 good WRS why would he stay? If things don’t change why would he resign in 2020 (unless he is franchised)?
Jim: Yes, I think Marcus would love an extension with the Titans. It would provide him financial security, and allow him to stay in Nashville. He likes Nashville. Does he like it as much as Honolulu? I’m not sure about that, but Hawaii doesn’t have an NFL team. The decision on whether he gets one will be decided by the decision-makers in town, and I think they’d probably like to see Marcus continue to improve 2019, while staying healthy. He’ll go a long way in making the decision for them.
Jamison Davis from Memphis, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim. Big Titans fan from Memphis. My question is what scheme and offense should we expect from Arthur Smith? Will he use a mixture of offense(s) from the past since he’s survived so many coaching changes. Also, is there a possibility that some players on the offensive line will be able to be retained in this scheme sensing that they weren’t good enough for a ZBS in a potential way to save some cap space and go bulk up in other areas (d-line, receiver, etc. ) Thanks Jim!
Jim: Hey Jamison. After talking to Mike Vrabel this week in Mobile, I expect things to look similar to last season, with some tweaks and new wrinkles from Arthur, who will want to do things his way. What’s critical is the terminology will remain the same, which should make the transition easier. But clearly Arthur will have an influence on how much Derrick Henry is used, what’s best for Mariota, who plays, etc. Some things could go down a different path… As for the o-line, money/cap concerns won’t be an issue in the decision-making. I expect to see some changes in the interior.
Darryl McDonald from Brooklyn, New York
Question: Hey Jim. I’m a Titans fan born and raised in New York that never been to Tennessee a day in my life. I see a lot of people downplay our wide receivers. To my knowledge we never had any legit number 1 WR. Derrick Mason was good along with others, never really considered them BIG-time just very reliable like our group now. I feel 1-2 more to put in the rotation would do us some justice. If we improve our interior OL and Henry run like he did in December, I feel we would have the same style team when we made it to the Super Bowl. Defensive wise add a stout DT and/or edge rusher with a CB for rotation would definitely give us potential. Between Free agency and the Draft I like our chances for 2019.
Jim: Hey Darryl. First off, good to have you on board. Secondly, you need to come to Nashville! I think you’re going to see some additions at the receiver position. There will be competition in a group that will be led by Corey Davis. You make some good observations, and hit on areas of need. I think a stout defensive lineman to create havoc with Jurrell Casey, and more edge rushers is the way to go on D as well. I actually like the cornerback depth, but still, you can never have too many.
Bob Wise from Smyrna, Tennessee
Question: I’ve been away, so I haven’t heard much, but I’m concerned about some personnel. Mainly concerned about Brian Orakpo, Derrick Morgan, Delanie Walker, Johnathan Cyprien. All were hurt off & on during the season. Who is going to return?
Jim: Hey Bob. Will run through this quick. Orakpo retired, so he won’t be back. Morgan’s an unrestricted free agent, and his future in Tennessee is cloudy. Delanie is recovering from last year’s injury, and hopes to be back at full strength or better. Cyprien remains under contract, but I think it will be a decision between Kenny Vaccaro and Cyprien. Going to be tough to keep both. And with Vaccaro’s performance last year, he’s probably earned himself a nice contract in 2019 and beyond – either in Tennessee or somewhere else. I’m interested to find out where myself.
Kerry McClain from Beaumont, Texas
Question: Long-time Oiler and Titans fan! What’s your opinion on the new offensive coordinator? Really don’t no much about this guy. However, it’s nice to see an in house promotion! Really like our coaching staff and general manager! Go Titans and thanks for your time!
Jim: You’re talking about Arthur Smith, of course, and I like him. And I think he’ll do a good job. He’s smart, a really good coach, and he’s well respected by players and other coaches.
Rico Washington from Temple Hill, Maryland
Question: Hey Jim, I just want to first say congrats to our new OC Arthur Smith wish him the best of luck on his new journey with the Titans. My question though is, Arthur being hire is so that the offense would be the almost identical to when Matt was calling plays and so Marcus and The Boys wouldn’t need to learn a new playbook, would the same playbook be the best thing since we ranked in the bottom in total offense in the NFL. I know we had injuries that played a part in our season but next year’s schedule isn’t a walk in the park.
Jim: Hey Rico. I touched on some of this with Jamison. For starters, Smith’s job will be to make the offense better. I think we’d all agree it was lacking in some games last season. This is exactly what Vrabel said when discussing things this week: “The terminology is going to remain consistent, and in order for players to improve and develop, they can’t spend a whole bunch of time learning. Even though the formation is going to be the same, the terminology may have changed, and it’s not going to change. When they hear a formation (this offseason), it’s going to be the same one they learned last April and that we used throughout the season. The foundation is going to stay the same. There’s going to be things that we want to do differently. Being able to get guys lined up quickly, hear the same terminology going into our second year is going to be really critical, and I am excited to watch the growth from our players. And whatever else we try to add that maybe we didn’t do as much of. This is going to be a real positive move for us. I am excited for Arthur, but excited for our players to be able to stay really close to the system that they learned last year, that we implemented last year, and continue to grow and develop and improve in that system. We thought it was our best opportunity to be able to improve, to teach, and not have to spend so much time with people learning.”
I know that’s a lot, but that’s the lowdown from the HC. And you’re right — the Titans play against some good offenses in 2019. The O’s got to go…
Jeff Reid from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim. Do u think the Titans plan on bringing in a veteran corner cause I don’t think we have an outside corner that’s up to pair with Logan Ryan working slot. Malcolm Butler is not the answer and Adoree’ Jackson is too raw and still make a lot of mistakes. How you feel about Smith and Sims?
Jim: Hey Jeff. I don’t agree that there’s a huge need here. While teams are always looking for corners, I’m expecting Butler, Ryan and Jackson to be the top three guys next year, and I like LeShaun Sims as well. Tye Smith is an exclusive rights free agent, so I expect him back. He’ll be back in the mix after missing last season with an injury.
Scott Spurlock from Leander, Texas
Question: I wonder if the GM reads my e-mails and Listens.. I said stability was something we needed.. and the new OC Hire is a very stable move… That I like. I was in a different kind of profession but I worked my way up from grunt to Operations Manager behind a Cushy desk in Washington DC.. so I’m happy to see us promoting from within. Good Job !
Also watched the Rams Saints game.. an Idea for making sure it never happens again, Put an official in the booth able to call down to the field and correct glaring mistakes.. or at least tell them they should double check the play… Seems the guys on the field make honest mistake that a guy above with access to the camera views would be able to get corrected before the next play.. I would think even the guy that missed the call would be cool with it being corrected before he gets hate mail and such like that…
Anyway .. I’m looking forward to next year. I hope the Patriots win the Super Bowl so we can talk about the ass-kicking we gave them earlier this season. If Indy had gone all the way and won it would really suck. But a team we handled pretty good.. it would make it seem like a good thing..
Jim: Hey Scott. I caught the GM reading your emails the other day. He appreciates the feedback. 🙂
Way to go on your personal climb. Hard work pays off!
Good feedback on the Saints call and officiating. I hate to see a game decided like that.
And coming strong at the end! You turned this week’s mailbag into PG-13. Have a good one…
Jordan Marbury from Birmingham, Alabma
Question: Greetings Jim! Passionate lifelong Oilers/Titans fan here since the days of Warren Moon. I’ve been contacting the Titans organization through the years suggesting draft picks, but I never seem to stand out or I get missed in the pile. I have a keen eye for drafts, here are some notables I’ve suggested that were available: Marshon Lattimore, Michael Thomas, Tyreek Hill, Michael Bennett. I do the heavy research. My question is could you guys take a hard look at the below players for draft consideration and if 3 of the year’s make the Pro Bowl could you guys give me a job opportunity to continue my great selections?
DRAFT PICKS FOR 2019 BY ROUND AND IMPACT
1. OG Cody Ford or Chris Lindstrom
2. Hakeem Butler, Paris Campbell, A.J.Brown, WR N’Keal Harry, Kelvin Harmon
3. DE Montez Sweat or Oshane Ximines
4. CB Deandre Baker, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Montre Hartage, Justin Laynes
5. NT/DT Kingsley Keke, QB Jacob Dolegala or Gardner Minshew or TE Jace SternBerger
Jim: Hey Jordan. I’ll pass these along to the GM. He’s loving all the tips. I thought you suggested JaMarcus Russell, too? Just kidding…
Thomas Denomme from Rhode Island
Question: My question is about Marcus Mariota. This OC hire is a huge stepping stone for a long term deal for Mariota. I know most people want to see the season play out before offering a long term deal for Marcus. I am thinking this offseason may be the best time to do it to be honest. If Marcus comes out next year and has a huge year, and leads us to the playoffs, he will have to sign a 100+ million contract. Why not sign him this offseason to an Alex Smith type deal, 5 years 80-90 million backloaded like Brady typically gets. That would be a smaller cap hit than his fifth year option this season, gives the Titans more room to work on upgrading the roster, and gives Marcus his financial stability so he can focus on strictly football. If the Mariota experiment does not work out in the future it will be a rebuild anyways so his smaller annual contract would be a better option for a trade and you could get something in return. Do you think something along those lines could be in play?
Jim: Hey Thomas. Interesting take. I’m just going to play the other side: What if Marcus comes out and gets hurt in Week 2 next year? Or he takes a step back? I’m not saying I expect either to happen, but I just can’t see a long-term deal happening before the season with some questions still attached to him, from his play, to his ability to stay healthy, and be available. I still believe he’ll get there, and earn a long-team deal. But there’s nothing that says the Titans have to do it now, or even next offseason, when the franchise tag will be available. I get the risks. But there are risks both ways. As far as what Marcus might be thinking: My bet is he’s betting on himself. That’s the mindset of players. So with the conversation already starting about Patrick Mahomes potentially getting a $200 million deal next offseason, I can’t see Mariota settling for a so-so deal himself. That’s just my take, but you raise a topic to think about.