NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Well, the 2017 season is now officially in the books.
Congrats to the Philadelphia Eagles, who turned in a gutsy performance to win the Super Bowl.
Now the focus shifts to 2018. The NFL Combine is coming up later this month, and soon we’ll be talking free agency, the NFL Draft, OTAs, minicamps, training camp, preseason and then the regular season.
But heck, I’m getting ahead of myself.
The focus now is on this mailbag. Let’s do this…
Jason Lloyd from Murfreesboro, TN
Question: Hi Jim. With all of the excitement surrounding the Titans this year – making the playoffs, winning a playoff game for the first time in 10 years, new uniforms, new coaching staff – do you think this makes the Titans more attractive to the NFL schedule makers for more primetime games? It’s been a LONG time since we had a Sunday night game and we’ve only had 1 or 2 primetime games every year for such a long time. I’d love to get multiple Monday night games and a Sunday night game to go along with the Thursday night game every team gets. Do you see us getting more primetime games this year?
Jim: Hey Jason. Good question. I could definitely see more primetime games, especially with the schedule. Not only are the Eagles and Patriots on the home schedule, but the AFC South is much improved, and more attractive. We’ll find out in April when the schedule comes out.
Ben Petty from Chattanooga, Tennesseee
Question: Will the Titans be hosting a High School 7 on 7 passing tournament this year? If so, what are the dates?
Jim: Hey Ben. Just checked with Josh Corey, who is football outreach coordinator for the Titans, and a former offensive lineman with the Florida Gators who was teammates with Zach Piller. The tourney is scheduled for Wednesday, July 11. More info to come.
Franco Grassi II from Yakima, Washington
Question: Hey Jim. How’s it going? Im just gonna get right to it. With the combine right around the corner and the draft shortly after, i noticed that Shaquem Griffin got an invite. Which im super stoked about. The kid is a stud idc what anyone says about him only having one hand the kid is better then a lot of guys with two hands. I know hes listed as a LB and hes a little small for that position in the NFL but like i said the kids a stud and im pretty sure hed be willing to play whatever position he is asked to play. He was all over the field in his bowl game. What do you think the odds are that the J-Rob and Coach Vrabel take a chance on him with a 3rd round pick? I know that might seem a little high of a pick on a prospect/long shot but i cant say it enough for a kid with one hand hes an absolute stud and i honestly dont think that if you wait around for the 4th 5th 6th or 7th round that he will be there someone is going to draft him and they are going to get one heck of a player. Id just like that team to be the Titans. Anyway thanks for all you do Jim… #TITANUP
Jim: Hey Franco. Appreciate the email. Shaquem is a heck of a player, and young man. What an inspirational story. His brother Shaquill paid a predraft visit to the Titans last year, and I had the pleasure of meeting him. I’m sure Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel and the scouts are doing their homework on him. But so is everyone else. I’m not sure where his draft stock is right now – those things come into better focus after the combine and pro days. So I’ll have a better feel then.
Seif Hussein from Cairo, Egypt
Question: Dear Jim. Hello again from the land of the pharaohs. Quick question, where do you think we need to strengthen this season. I believe nose tackle, inside linebacker, and definitely guard. I think the guard position was good a year ago but the running game has stalled and the protection needs to be better. What do you think? Regards Seif
Jim: Hey Seif. We’re on the same page with a lot of these. I also think there’s a need for more edge rushers moving forward. And more playmakers are needed on the offensive side of the ball, at the receiver position, and in the backfield. The team has some questions – and contract situations – on the interior line. I’m curious to see how those play out as well.
Kenni Ray from Conyers, Georgia
Question: Hey Jim, Thank you so much for all that you do for the Titans organization. As a fan it really is greatly appreciated. So Jim my question is this, Looking at the past few years we have had a really rough time going from coach to coach. Looking at Coach Vrabel I really do see some amazing potential for the Titans and this amazing Organization. Knowing that Vrabel is such a respected Coach in the league is so comforting as a fan. I’ve been seeing a lot of work being put in by Vrabel and my question for you is this. In your opinion, what moves will we need to make as far as getting aces in places and move forward and go all the way this year? What are we going to need to improve on? And will it happen this year or is it going to take a couple years to get things running the way they need to be? I understand we need to lace the shoe before we tie it. I’d just really love to see the full potential of our Amazing team be utilized.
Jim: Thanks Kenni. Coming off back-to-back 9-win seasons, no one is looking to take a step back. The schedule, and the AFC South, will be tougher this year. But the core group comes back. Some pieces need to be added this offseason, for sure. I expect Marcus Mariota to be much improved under a new offensive system and coaching. But some pieces are needed. Starting faster and being more explosive on offense in 2018 is a priority. But after watching the Eagles get hot and gain some mojo during the course of the season, I think everyone has the feeling it can be done. I think with Robinson and Vrabel, the organization is in good hands not just in the future, but in the present – like 2018.
Jeff Morris from Milan,Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim. Will four year starting linebacker Avery Williamson be re-signed soon?
Jim: Hey Jeff. This is definitely one of the contract situations to keep an eye on. Avery is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in March. He’s been a dependable and productive pro for the Titans. The GM and head coach I’m sure are still analyzing the roster. It’s early in the process.
Christy Robinson from Nashville, TN
Question: Not a question but a thank you for the two articles and the photo of Derek Barnett with Tom Brady. I’m sure you are aware that he’s a really good kid who deserves all the best – what a storybook year he’s had! Thanks again.
Jim: Hi Christy. I really appreciate the email. Derek is a great young man, and I was happy for him. I was able to spend some time with him during the draft process (he visited the Titans, plus I saw him at UT’s Pro Day and at the draft), and it was great to see him in Minneapolis. I was in the right place at the right time for that photo – I was walking with Derek, and Brady happened to be heading our way. I was impressed with how Brady handled the situation after a tough loss. He was very complimentary of Derek, shook his hand and wished him well. I could tell it meant a lot to Derek. Thanks again.
Dave Stein from Great Meadows
Question: Hi Jim. Been an Oiler /Titan fan since Bum Phillips days. But currently Titans haven/t been anywhere since Steve McNair/Jeff Fisher days. Let’s see Mike Munchak, Ken Whisenhunt, Mike Mularkey – who’d I miss? Now Mike Vrabel and who is he to not bring back Dick LeBeau. Dick has more experience than Vrabel could only wish he had. Fire Jeff Fisher the only coach to get the Titans to a Super Bowl. Jeff Fisher would have been a better choice than Vrabel. Sorry to say as longtime fan Vrabel is NOT the solution by far. What is wrong with front office vision ty
Jim: Well Dave, you’re in the minority here. Don’t get me wrong – Jeff Fisher did a nice job during his tenure, taking the team to the playoffs four times from 1999 to 2003, along with 2007 and ‘08. LeBeau is a class act, and true legend. But Vrabel was a solid hire, and after hearing more about him I’m even more convinced. I’ve also been impressed with his hires, from veteran DC Dean Pees to up-and-coming OC Matt LaFleur. It’s time to turn the page Dave, and quit worrying about the past. Fisher’s been gone eight years now. The Titans are on the upswing, and there’s reason to believe things will continue to go up, not back.