Monster Mailbag Sunday: Tennessee Titans
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
For the final installment, I bring you the Tennessee Titans.
MAC in Nashville writes: The biggest problem I have with Vince Young, is his actions off the field & after the play. Spiking the ball for a delay of game penalty, complaining about the media, not taking respondsability, until he can fix those things I don't think he can succeed on the field
Paul Kuharsky: You have to use "actions off the field" carefully. In today's NFL that usually means arrests and trouble, so let's be clear: Vince Young has no such issues. As far as responsibility and accountability, those remain issues for him and it's fair to expect progress in those departments in Year Three.
Jon in Franklin writes: If Obama had not named his running mate, Jeff Fisher should have received strong consideration. Classic spin doctor, able to make any bad situation look good, better, off the chart great. His continued insistance, "Touchdowns will come", "We have time, no need to panic." "We have not schemed for that defense" "Vince is making the right reads" Jeff's half-glass full rhetoric is over flowing. Behind closed doors he has to be wondering what is up with VY. His longest completions are to his tight ends. VY will always be compaired to Steve McNair in his development, and the McNair to Wycheck combo was potent. But Steve did have great chemistry with Derrick Mason, will anyone from our current roster of wideouts will that need?
Paul Kuharsky: The team will never say anything negative about Young publicly, that's just the way it works. Which is why he might be wise to be more self-critical. Young has shown chemistry in the past with Justin Gage. But there is no McNair-Mason feel to anything yet, no.
Garo in Lexington, TN writes: What is your take on NFL Network's Jamie Duke's point that the Titans shouldn't have drafted Chris Johnson, despite admitting Johnson is a great player? His claim is that the Titans should've drafted a WR in the 1st round instead? Is this not a little assine especailly considering the potential of Lavelle Hawkins? Why is it that no one seems to believe Hawkins can develope into #1, is it because he was a 4th round pick instead of a 1st or 2nd? Before his injury, he looked to be the only WR with serious playmaking skills on the Titans roster.
Paul Kuharsky: I say: Give me a name. Who is this receiver they should have drafted? It's not like they went out on a limb by passing on a WR in the first round. Everyone did! If there was a Calvin Johnson out there, then yes, they should have done everything possible to get him. But there wasn't. They don't necessarily believe in having a No. 1. Check out this blog entry from earlier in the week on the topic of No. 1 receivers.
Bill in Nashville writes: Paul, I have watched all of the Titans preseason games multiple times. Vince isn't the only one struggling with the new offense. Kerry Collins has looked just as bad sans the one long pass to Hawkins against scrubs. I see Vince's hot reads not look for the ball on the blitz's. I've seen Vince throw balls that are 5-10 yards off target. The only explanation of this is that either Vince didn't remember the route or the WR/TE did not. This offense is completely out of sync. What is your thoughts on the overall impression of the team's grasp on Dinger's passing.
Paul Kuharsky: That's the root of the problem. Things are not clicking and syncing up as well as they need to. I speculated early that Young might get worse before he got better following the coordinator change. I suspect that's what we're seeing now, with him and the whole passing offense.
Please leave an email address next time Bill, so I can try to write you back personally too.
Jenny in Brentwood, TN writes: Okay Paul. You asked for questions. Here you go. How important do you think it is that former Titans DC Gregg Williams is now working for the Jaguars? Is he spilling trade secrets to the competition? Also, Tennessee worked out Byron Leftwich before he signed with Pittsburgh. Any Jags secrets given to the Titans that day? Do players, coaches, etc. sign confidentiality clauses? It would be next to impossible, I suppose, with all the switcheroos that happen each offseason, but I've often wondered if there were "meetings" and "hires" for the purpose of information gathering. And how do you keep a playbook secret? Really. So many players come and go. Enlighten me
Paul Kuharsky: Jenny, good to hear from you.
Coaches move around all the time and trade secrets are overrated. The Titans have one player on defense, Keith Bulluck, who played for Williams. He knows how Jeff Fisher and Jim Schwartz like to operate, but so do a lot of coaches they play against and they have a similar knowledge of him. Having Williams will be a good thing for Jacksonville, which needs his blitzing style to get more heat on the AFC's best quarterbacks.
Players get signed by teams all the time right before a team plays his former club. Consensus is there isn't a whole lot to glean, and the old team certainly changes signals, etc. to cover for any possible giveaways. Leftwich was far enough removed from Jacksonville I'm certain it was not the point of the meeting. Wouldn't he have been upset if they were wasting his time while he was trying to create some buzz and find work?
There are pretty strict protocols in place about playbooks. You turn the big one in at the end of camp, you turn the weekly one in at the end of the week, you get giant fines if you lose them, etc. Would you risk your job security or ticking off your boss in order to put a copy on your bookshelf for down the road? I believe most guys wouldn't/don't mess with the code,
Jesse in Nashville writes: Reynaldo Hill has not shown me anything new this training camp. He gets burned so often I find myself thinking fondly of our days with Denard Walker. I think its a great possibility that Nick Harper will not go the distance this season - meaning Rey-Rey will get the starting nod and opposing offense will begin to salivate as he takes the field. Do you see anything out of Eric King or Chris Carr that leads you believe that either of them (or someone else) can provide that much needed depth at cornerback? Also Vinny Fuller and Steven Tulloch have really been bright spots so far this pre-season. It seems that both of these guys are ready for a breakout in their 3rd year. What opportunities and possible new roles to see them filling this coming season?
Paul Kuharsky: I think King would rank ahead of Hill in such a situation now, though King had tackling troubles in one preseason game. They could look to upgrade at Hill's spot through waivers. Fuller is entrenched as the nickelback and the only concern with him is durability over 16 games. Tulloch is the fourth linebacker. He'll play in some goal line packages, be on most or all special teams and get the call if anything happen to Ryan Fowler, Keith Bulluck or David Thornton.
Dirk in Nashville writes: Paul, did you hear Norm Chow on the radio with Mark, Kevin and Frank this morning? It was fascinating to hear that he was fired over the phone in a 15 second conversation. Also, he was as blunt as I've heard him saying that he believed Matt Leinart was the guy they should have drafted and when they went with Vince he told his wife his "days were numbered" in Tennessee. That hire clearly did not work out from the beginning. I really wish they would have asked Norm's opinion on Vince's current struggles because clearly he had his doubts all along
Paul Kuharsky: I did hear it. I mentioned it in a "Reading the Coverage" blog entry. I like Norm Chow, hope he's someone I can call to talk football with for years to come. I am not saying Norm was treated properly.
I do think it's time to let go, at least publicly. He's told that story multiple times.
And we always need to be careful about not having both sides. Jeff Fisher's never given his side of that chat, and he could have offered a number of things to Chow that might have extended their talk or made it appear less harsh. Again, not that it would have made things right, just a little less striking.
Corey in Waverly writes: The Titans obviously have a top three defense (barring injury). The question is Vince Young. If he can have a even a mediocre year, is this a Potential Super Bowl team?
Paul Kuharsky: Not to me, no.
I see them in the playoffs. To win in the playoffs, they'd have to score points and I just don't see them scoring a lot of points. They are in a group of teams a solid notch below New England, San Diego and Indianapolis.
Jeff in Augusta writes: How do you see the Titans doing so well (2nd in the AFC south), when they have a quarterback who has yet to prove he's a consistent NFL caliber quarterback? Payton Manning-check, Matt Shaub-no Manning but a 87.2 passer rating isn't shabby, David Gerrard-102.2 pass rating and finally Vince Young-71 pass rating with a 9/17 td/int ratio. Young doesn't have "it" yet, and Kerry Collins is not much better. The Bears might have gone to the Super Bowl without a QB, but the Titans defense is definitely not the same caliber as the Bears defense was. I like the Titans running game (a lot), but Young at QB will bring the Titans down to a distant third in the AFC south. Anyway, thanks for doing this AFC south blog as it's a quick and easy reference for the news and notes.
Paul Kuharsky: Vince Young and the passing offense were really bad last year, and the Titans went 10-6 in the toughest division in football and made the playoffs.
The defense has 10 starters and the nickelback returning. The running game got better with a rookie back, Chris Johnson, who looks like an excellent addition to a rush attack that was fifth in the league last year.
Under Jeff Fisher they've often started slowly and then made a charge. It could unfold the same way.
Glad you like the blog, thanks.
J.D. in Austin writes: On the Titans: with the reported concerns over the receivers' failure to create separation, do you feel like the Titans will shop for anyone after this weekend's cuts? And are you getting feedback that Chris Henry is starting to learn his position or is he just getting to hang out as a recent second round pick?
Paul Kuharsky: They better do some shopping. They'll look at guys who come free, not make some big trade. Though until someone is hurt, I wouldn't expect to see them dipping deep in a receiver rotation.
On Henry, I have to say it's the latter. I think his 2009 replacement may all ready be on the roster: Rafael Little is rehabbing a knee injury suffered at the Senior Bowl and is on the Titans' non-football injury list. (Yes, it was a football injury but not in football with the Titans, who signed him as an injured undrafted rookie out of Kentucky.)