Last year, the Tennessee Titans defense had no identity.
Unless giving up points by the bushel counts as one.
So one of the priorities this off-season was to try and bring some attitude back to a group that gave up 471 points a year ago.
First, the Titans hired Gregg Williams, their one-time defensive coordinator, as a senior defensive assistant to help Jerry Gray coordinate the defense.
Williams, of course, is well known for his aggressiveness, and he comes back to the NFL after serving a one-year suspension for his role in the New Orleans Saints Bounty-gate scandal.
But a coach with some fire also needs some players with some fire, too. Enter Bernard Pollard, fresh off a Super Bowl championship as a safety with the Baltimore Ravens.
There are a couple of things about Pollard that are well known around the league. He isn’t afraid to speak his mind. And he isn’t afraid to back up what he says with a physical style on the field.
Not surprisingly, Pollard quickly enlisted himself in Williams’ corner.
“Coach Williams is a character. He really is. He reminds me a lot of Gunther Cunningham, whom I had in Kansas City. But I think Coach Williams might have him, not by a lot, but by a little. Coach Williams is very spirited,” Pollard said. “He’s very passionate about what he’s out here doing.
“He’s not out here for no reason. You look at him, he had a year off. We can say it was right, wrong or indifferent, whatever. It doesn’t matter. He’s back in this thing, and for us as players, what happens here, what you hear here stays here. We’re players. That’s our coach and we’re supposed to back our coach. And we’re supposed to back our players. If one teammate fights, we all fight. If one coach goes through it, we all go through it. This is a brotherhood here. We have to go in there. Coach Williams and Coach (Jerry) Gray, they’re trying to do something this team has been trying to do the last few years. When it’s all said and done, we’re gonna out out there and play football.”
Pollard says he will try to lead by example and wants the defense to adapt a mentality of toughness and togetherness.
“For the most part, I can lead by example. I’m a guy where I flip that switch on the football field. My teammates, I hope everybody’s got switches, because if you don’t, that’s the wrong sport you’re in.,” he said. “That’s the mindset we have to have as a defense. If a guy wants to come across the middle, if a guy wants to pick a fight, we’re gonna fight and we’re gonna ask questions later. We’re not gonna worry about it at that point. I don’t care.
“The guy has an opposite jersey on so we’re gonna fight him. We’re gonna beat him down and then we’ll talk about it afterward. We’ll laugh, and hopefully, our teammate didn’t get beat up. For the most part, we’ve just got to have fun. We’re on this stage. We’re blessed with talent. Go out there and let it all hang out. Go play football. This is a game, and we can’t make it harder than what it is.”