Mailbag: Which Jags coordinator has done better?
If you're a fan of Houston, Indianapolis or Jacksonville, you can fairly claim this is too Tennessee-heavy.
The change begins with you.
Be part of the next mailbag, because you never know when I may start awarding prizes for the best questions. If you give a name and location, it helps. And without an email address, I can't write you back.
Jeremy from Minneapolis writes: Hey Paul, thanks for all the quality AFC South info. As a Tennessee native stuck up here in NFC North country, I pretty much lived off your blog all the way through training camp and preseason this year. Even though you gave us a whole VY mailbag today, I hope you might be able to provide some insight on another possible scenario for Vince and the Titans. During Jeff Fisher's discussion of Young in his Monday press conference, he mentioned that once Vince returns from his injury the Titans will work on getting him "back involved in the offense." Fisher has indicated that he thinks Vince will benefit from watching a veteran quarterback like Collins handle things for a little while, and I think that is what the team would have initially preferred to do with Young. It was only the fact that the newly signed Collins and the rest of the offense struggled so badly at the start of the '06 season that forced Vince onto the field early. I seem to also remember hearing talk around the beginning of that season of using Young not necessarily as a starter right away, but finding spots during the course of the game where he could be most effective, create difficult matchups, and use his unique skills to exploit defenses. Do you think there is a possibility we will see the Titans use VY in that way as the season progresses, or are we past that point now that he has been the starter for the better part of two years? It seems to me that this approach would be ideal on a couple fronts: First, it requires the opposing defense to prepare for a Titans offense that can come at them with two very different quarterbacks who create different matchup problems. Second, it takes the pressure of being "th...
Paul Kuharsky: I think it's a good idea and would be a good way to ease him back in - narrow packages used here and there with him as the QB. If you missed it, Albert Haynesworth suggested an all-out two quarterback attack. The narrow packages are what they did early his rookie year. Only downside is, it could create more possibility for controversy. We'll see. I think it's going to be a good while before we see him on the field again, and maybe not this year if things go well and Kerry Collins stays healthy.
Keath in Tampa, FL writes: Paul, You really are a homer, aren't you? You need to go back to Sports Journalism and learn to distance yourself - you followed the Oilers/Titans for 12 years. Good for you. Now you work for ESPN. Distinguish the two, my friend. Quit saying, "We...", because YOU didn't do anything, nor did you use this (pretend-like) for the other franchises. Stick to objective journalism for the future. We readers see right through this...
Paul Kuharsky: Actually, in a Monday entry called "What I think they're thinking," I absolutely used "we," for all four teams, talking as if I was in each team's head. Why don't you take another look?
After you cool down, if you'd like to show me how I failed to be objective, I'd love the feedback.
spietan from Washington writes: Neither the Jags offense nor the defense looks capable of carrying the team into the playoffs. Which coordinator (Dirk Koetter or Gregg Williams) is doing the best job with the players available?
Paul Kuharsky: I think they've both been handcuffed some. Koetter hasn't had Jerry Porter yet and with a patchwork interior offensive line, he's been a bit limited in what he can try to do. Williams was brought in to help find ways to get to the passer, but in crucial situations the Jaguars have failed to do so. Derrick Harvey's long preseason absence during his contract dispute slowed his development, so he's not the key ingredient they were hoping for yet. Both coordinators came up one score or one stop short in the two losses.
Jams from parts unknown writes: Mr. Kuharsky, you do a lot of nice work, but it's "feel bad," not "feel badly." Do you "feel happily" about things, too, or "feel happy"? "Feel angrily," or "feel angry" when people clutter your inbox with grammar crap? It's a subject complement (hence the adjective), modifying "I," not an adverb modifying "feel." You would feel badly, though, if you were to suffer nerve damage in your hands, but I wouldn't wish that fate on you. Sorry to be pedantic, but you know me; I'm a good guy. I point out annoying minutiae for the kids.
Paul Kuharsky: Point taken, thanks. I'll work to make sure you don't see it again.
John E. Lee from parts unknown writes: Paul, congrats on joining ESPN.com! Now maybe the AFC south will have a real voice! Here's my prediction: If Vince Young stays away, and Kerry Collins stays healthy, and Jeff Fisher stops his conservative/predictable play-calling, (will you fianlly hold him accountable this season?) the Titans will win the AFC and make it back to the Super Bowl! Have a great season and thanks for your presence in Music City!!!
Paul Kuharsky: Thanks. A displaced Yankee as the voice of the 'South,' imagine that!
As for Fisher -- Yeah, I've never ever held him accountable, except for every time I've said he's a good coach who tends to be too conservative and loyal, which is usually only a few times a week.
What should I be raking him over the coals for right now at 3-0?
Rob in Fort Myers, FL writes: Paul, Why do you think the Colts are looking so sluggish this season thus far? Is this something that you feel they will work out with more time, or is this the decline we have all been expecting to occur with all their success recently? Do they have it worked out by their Monday Night battle with Tennessee on October 27th?
Paul Kuharsky: Peyton Manning's missed time and the O-line injury troubles have certainly been factors.
Quinn Pitcock retiring, Ed Johnson getting himself cut and Bob Sanders getting hurt all messed up the defense.
But it's too early to know if they are slowing overall. I still think they are incredibly dangerous.
Unknown from Bowling Green writes: Why don't the Titans get more press. Both the Monday night and Sunday night half time shows haven't mentioned the Titans in the last 3 weeks. Your from Nashville, can't you pull some strings. You said yourself you need some TV practice.
Paul Kuharsky: You have to admit their highlights don't often feature the sort of diving catches or the sort of explosive plays that rule the reels. Remember Chris Johnson's huge run in the preseason? I saw that everywhere.
Titans fans shouldn't need some media blessing in order to feel good about their team.
I just saw someone on SportsCenter call the Titans the best team in the AFC. SI.com wrote about the Titans this week and NFL.com did too. Seems like great press to me.
I'm covering Vikings-Titans over Texans-Jaguars on Sunday and I give Tennessee a ton of press, too much according to many other readers.
Unknown from Pittsboro, IN writes: You said that the final interference call against the colts Keiaho was "obvious"
but what was obvious was that Williams was running an illegal "pick" play. He ran right at Keiaho, crossed his arm like a skinny kid setting a pick in basketball, then he actually jumped a little when his QB panicked and threw the ball to Williams. The colts read their illegal play, the CB jumped the out route and the refs bailed them out. To me this is obvious, but to you, apparently it was a "good call?"
Paul Kuharsky: I didn't have a huge problem with the call, you are correct. When the ball is in the air, the defender is not allowed to touch the intended receiver. I suspect if that was a Colts receiver and a Jags DB you and a lot of people wearing a horseshoe logo would feel differently.
It's unbecoming when fans pin losses on refs -- outside of an absolute mess up like in the Denver-SD game. The Colts had plenty of chances to finish the Jags off.
Steve in Las Vegas writes: I don't understand it; what do the Titans have to do to earn some respect? Even after starting the season 3-0 people still question why. The Titans are a good team. Yes, they have had their share of drama with VY, but as shown last year, when VY had a bum quad, Collins stepped up and took the team for a while. Their defense is in the top 5, and they have a great duo in the back field, CJ compliments LW perfectly. The only thing that I think they should change is, take VY out of the QB line-up and try him as a TE or short field wide out. He has proved that when he is healthy, he can gain yardage on the ground. He just isn't too confident as a NFL passer. Just my thoughts.
Paul Kuharsky: See my response to the question from Bowling Green above.
What's the respect you'd like for your team that it's not getting? I've seen the Titans rated as the best team in the AFC by a lot of people. They are doing very well in power polls like ours, where they currently sit fourth. That's disrespect?
Two of their wins have come against terrible teams, but they look great so far. I have missed the big questions about why they are 3-0. I expect them to be 5-1 at worst heading into their big Monday night matchup with Indianapolis on Oct. 27.
There is no way Vince Young is going to be playing a position other than quarterback.
Jenny from Brentwood writes: PK - is it feasible that the Tulloch/Fowler switch is part of the greater plan to foil gameplanning for our opponents? Meaning, there's a lot of tape on Fowler, and not as much on Tulloch. With the Vikings run game, it's pretty imperative to manipulate the MLB. Plus - we gave up 140+ yards to Steve Slaton last week. Also - isn't Tulloch a little bit faster than Fowler? With Adrian Peterson coming to town, I can sort of agree with the change to Tulloch. Props to Fowler, though. What a class act. I hope he gets back on the field somehow.
Paul Kuharsky: There is more than enough tape on Tulloch for Minnesota to have a good enough feel for what they are getting. And a switch on defense isn't the same as a new QB or RB or something like that. Teams don't have to reshape a plan based on a new middle linebacker, which is a situational job in the Titans defense. Tulloch is faster than Fowler and more of a play-maker, but he's less experienced and more likely to make a mistake. I think he will do well. I'm disappointed for Fowler, a hard-worker and a stand-up guy. I'm excited for Tulloch, also a super-likeable guy, who has more upside. But this is an uncharacteristic move, and I am surprised to see the Titans make it while things have been going so well.
Rob in Fort Myers writes (again): Paul, In light of the fact that the Titans are on a roll and the Lions are tumbling out of control, what do you think the chances are of the Titans offering a 2nd or 3rd round pick to the Lions to take Roy Williams off their hands? I know what you always say...that the Titans just don't do business that way, and they don't value the WR position that highly...but you have to think a dominant force at WR could be the difference in this team going to a Super Bowl with the AFC climate the way it is right now. The injuries to Brady and Manning really give you reason to think that a team like Tennessee with a dominant, championship level defense and a great running game could really get there this year. Roy Williams may be the player to get that offense over the top, and it would also give the team an inside track on signing Roy Williams long term and giving VY the WR he will need in the future. What are your thoughts in light of the developments that have already occured thus far this season? Remember how impactful Chris Chambers was for San Diego last year? Williams could be that guy for Tennessee.
Paul Kuharsky: I just don't see it happening. Chambers was a rare instance and he is an older guy nowhere near the caliber player Williams is. NFL teams don't usually dump guys just before their contracts are up in order to get something for him. That's baseball. And what would the Lions say to their fans - 'Of all those first-round receivers, we hit on one and now we're shipping his butt out of here?'
Also, as a friend in the Titans press room often points out: If you're a big-time WR, why do you want to come to Nashville? To be de-emphasized? To be thrown to by a young QB who's basically gotten himself pulled and hasn't shown he can consistently get the ball to people? You're not going to come here and put up huge numbers, as it's not what they look to do. One man isn't going to arrive and change a lifetime philosophy of a coach who wants to play defense and run it.
That said, the Tulloch-for-Fowler move was uncharacteristic. So perhaps they are working on a blockbuster.