The Tennessee Titans offense has been in the spotlight this preseason. Primarily, most people are interested in who is going to be the leader of this offense at the quarterback position.
Will it be Jake Locker or Matt Hasselbeck? Most are so wrapped up in the quarterback battle that they have completely forgotten that the defense has some questions to answer as well.
The Tennessee Titans defense gave tremendous effort last year, but unfortunately, that effort did not translate into getting stops. For whatever reason, they just were not able to make the winning plays needed at the correct time. Going into this year, the Titans have a chance to atone for those missteps. A few things will be key in making that happen.
The first thing the Titans must do is stop the run. The Titans finished 22nd against the run last year in the NFL. A good defense is stingy against the run. For the Titans to get better in this area, they must get some push in the middle of the field. Guys like defensive tackles Jurrell Casey, Sen’Derrick Marks, Shaun Smith and Karl Klug, along with newcomer Mike Martin must get penetration or at least occupy blockers enough for the linebackers to make the play. Along with the interior linemen getting penetration and doing their job up front, the defensive ends must not give up outside containment. These two must work together to make things even more difficult for opposing offenses. And if the Titans can stop the run, they can make the down and distances harder for their opponents and, in turn, the percentages say they will be more successful. But that is only half of the battle for Tennessee.
The Titans were also not so great on third downs this past year. In fact, they were next to last in the NFL last year in giving up six conversions a game on third downs. That may not seem like that high of a number, but every possession counts in each and every game. The key factor in helping get the opposing team’s offense off the field will be the pass rush. The Titans did not have much of a pass rush at all last year.
To give you an example of how bad it was, the Titans leader in sacks was rookie Karl Klug last year. And he only had seven sacks. With the addition of former Raider Kameron Wimbley, the Titans are hoping to improve on their third-down defense by ratcheting up the pressure up front.
With Wimbley, potentially a healthy Derrick Morgan and maybe some scheming by defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, the Titans could make life a little harder on their opponents and produce more than the 28 sacks they
produced as a team last year. An increased pass rush should also help the Titans pass coverage because they will not have to defend for as long as they did last year.
If these two things happen, the Titans can return to the defense that people feared in the NFL at one
time. I look forward to seeing what happens.