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This Sunday, the Cleveland Browns take on the Tennessee Titans. To help preview this week's game, I reached out to Jimmy Morris from Music City Miracles and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!
Chris: "This is kind of a side-storyline, but Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is from Knoxville, Tennessee and he's a big supporter of the University of Tennessee, so this is a homecoming of sorts for him. Is Haslam a well-known figure in the state of Tennessee from your perspective?"
Jimmy: "Jimmy Haslam is very well known by fans of the University of Tennessee. The Haslam family might be the most prominent UT boosters. Also, Jimmy's brother, Bill, is the governor of Tennessee. So while most people might not be that familiar with Jimmy, everyone knows of the Haslam family."
Chris: "Ray Horton was the Browns' defensive coordinator in 2013, and all he ever did in press conferences was preach an "attacking defense." The Titans seem to have some pretty decent defensive stats, except for the red zone defense and the number of points allowed. What is the perception of Farmer's defensive approach thus far?"
Jimmy: "The transition to the 3-4 has not been an easy one thus far. Ray Horton said before the year that it would probably take about 5 weeks into the season for things to click. We are hoping that this is the magic week!
But more than that, the Titans just have some personnel issues on defense. They don't have the outside linebackers you need for the 3-4 to be good. They have also had problems at the corner position opposite Jason McCourty. So while the scheme might start to click soon, the other issues will still be present."
Chris: "The Titans seem to be having a true trio going at running back between Shonn Green, Bishop Sankey, and Dexter McCluster. Do you expect that to continue? Which of those backs do Titans fans like the most?"
Jimmy: "I hope it doesn't continue. They need to get some continuity at that position, and it is hard to do that when you are constantly shuffling backs. Those three should have pretty defined roles- Greene is your short yardage guy, McCluster your passing downs guy, and Sankey your guy who can do it all- but so far they have been using them interchangeably. That doesn't seem to be the best approach, but that is what they are doing right now.
The fans want to see more of Sankey. He was the first back taken in the 2014 draft, and has looked good when he got his chances. Ken Whisenhunt keeps saying Sankey has some details that he needs to get worked out. Hopefully they are worked out."
Chris: "It must be frustrating to see Jake Locker in his fourth season with only 21 starts under his belt. If you were to poll Titans fans, are they still supportive of Locker, or is this season viewed as his final chance to show something?"
Jimmy: "This is Locker's last chance to show something -- even his biggest supporters acknowledge that at this point. Locker has the perfect attitude for a quarterback, but it hasn't come together for him yet. He has been inconsistent, and doesn't seem to be a good fit for Whisenhunt's system. I think it is going to take really impressive play for the rest of the season for him to be back here next year."
Chris: "The Titans have basically been blown out in three straight games. Is there one common thread that is the major source of games getting away, or is everything just one big giant mess?"
Jimmy: "Everything has been a giant mess. You cannot point to one thing they have done well in those three games, which is extremely frustrating after they did everything well in the opener at Kansas City. I think they can bounce back, but they will need to start fast on Sunday. They are a team that is lacking confidence right now. A couple of bad breaks early and they could fall into the "here we got again" mentality. That will make for a long day."
Thanks again to Jimmy for taking the time to answer my questions.