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Opponent focus: Jim Wyatt, Titans senior writer/editor

Tennessee Titans quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) throws out of the pocket against the Dallas Cowboys during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser each week during the 2022 regular season will speak with a writer or media member covering the Jaguars' opponent.

Up this week:

Titans senior writer/editor Jim Wyatt about Saturday's 2022 Week 18 game between the Jaguars and Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field.

Question: The Titans are 7-9 with six consecutive losses, yet they can win the AFC South with a victory over the Jaguars Saturday. What's the state of the Titans entering Saturday?

Answer: When the Titans left Green Bay on November 17 at 7-3, certainly there was a lot of confidence – and a feeling that this team had a chance to not only win the division but to compete for one of the top seeds in the AFC. Six straight losses have definitely taken a toll on the players' confidence. Certainly, injuries have impacted how this team has played as well. As bad as things have been, this game is still for the AFC South title. That's going to have players motivated to the end and a lot of these guys have been in big games before, so they feel like they are capable of kind of putting it together despite the six-game losing streak. But you just can't snap your fingers and expect you're going to all of a sudden have things fixed. This team definitely is up against it. It's going to have to do a lot of things a lot better than it has done here over the last six weeks.

Q: It seems as if injuries have told the story. Is it as simple as that?

A: No, I don't think it is as simple as that. That's just making an excuse for your team if you're saying it's all because of injuries. This team has lost six games in a row. Injuries have played a factor, but this team also has lost games that they have been in and games that they had won previously and they just have not been able to pull them out. They lost 20-16 to the Cincinnati Bengals; they had a great chance to win and let it slip away. They lost to the Los Angeles Chargers, 17-14. They lost in the final minutes against Houston on Christmas Eve, 19-14. That's the type of game they won early in the season and they now are not winning them. They got pretty much blown out against Philadelphia, the Jaguars handled them in their own stadium and the Dallas game was a little one-sided – though they were in it a good part of the way Thursday night. But they have had a chance to win some games that they just were not able to win.

Q: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is out for the season. The Titans started Josh Dobbs at quarterback Thursday in a 27-13 loss to Dallas after starting Malik Willis the previous game. It was Dobbs' first career start and he will start Saturday. Assess the quarterback situation:

A: I don't think anybody 10 days ago would have thought there was any chance Josh Dobbs would be the team's starting quarterback in the winner-take-all season finale. The offense just looked more complete with Josh Dobbs – even in just one start – than it did with Malik Willis in three starts. [Head Coach] Mike Vrabel just thinks they can do more in the passing game and give you more of a threat in play action. He liked how teammates responded to Dobbs at quarterback. He said it himself: He feels like Josh Dobbs gives this team the best chance to win right now. That's the direction the team went. He didn't leave any doubt about it or use a competitive advantage at the start of the week. He said Josh Dobbs is the starting quarterback and that's who you're going to see on Saturday night.

Q: Right now, for the Titans to be successful offensively, how do they do it?

A: They can't turn the ball over. That's the main thing. Against Dallas, they turned the ball over twice and in a lot of other losses they have turned the ball over and made it more difficult on themselves. They can't have the drops they had in previous games. Against Dallas, they had at least four drops. If you have a backup quarterback – and it's going to be a backup quarterback no matter who it is – you have to be able to help them, you have to be good around them. You can't turn the ball over, you have to catch the football, you have to be better from a protection standpoint, then you have to get the running game going. They sat [running back] Derrick Henry against Dallas to try to recharge his batteries a little bit. One of the keys for success moving forward is to be able to run the football and take pressure off the quarterback.

Q: Are they healthy enough defensively to be sound?

A: That is the one area where they're getting a little bit healthier. Then they've also got some guys that aren't coming back. They lost Harold Landry before the season even started; he was your best pass rusher. Now you lost [outside linebacker/pass rusher] Bud Dupree for the year on injured reserve. They lost [safety] Andrew Adams, who had been really playing well, for the season against Dallas. But then they are starting to get a little bit healthier there. Starting corner Kristian Fulton has a chance to play. Safety Amani Hooker, who began the season as the starting safety, has a chance to come back. Starting insider linebacker David Long has a chance to come back. And after resting [linemen] Denico Autry and Jeffery Simmons for a week, those guys have a chance to come back and be fresher. They're getting some pieces back, but again, they're down Landy, Dupree and linebacker Zach Cunningham. That's three guys who are starters at the beginning of the season who are done and now you're just hoping to just get some of your guys back to close it out.

Q: They really are in a unique situation, to lose six consecutive games and still have a chance to save the season with one victory …

A: Yeah, it is weird because there are seasons where teams are kind of playing out the string in December and you're kind of on a death march and you know the end is coming. This is unique because as bad as things have been – and as miserable as it is during a six-game losing streak – all of a sudden now you flip a switch and you're playing pretty much what's a playoff game Saturday. I expect there to be juice around the building this week. I think this team will be fired up and ready to play Saturday. This team has kind of thrived in situations where they feel like they're being counted out and their backs are against the wall. The question now is whether they've got the bodies and the team that can do it. Some of those teams that have risen to the occasion have been better teams and been at full strength. This is still a beat-up, wounded team that's missing a lot of its key players, including their starting quarterback. Now the question is, is whether they can rise up and play their best game in a couple of months.

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