One of the most familiar terms in any football locker room, the term three and out, has been preached by every team in hopes of getting the defense off of the field. Defenses pride themselves in shutting down the opposing offense and giving the ball back to their own offense. Although this term is primarily used on the defensive side of the ball, I believe this term can be applied to all front offices when evaluating players and the future of your franchise.
It’s simple. You give a player three years to prove his worth to the team and if he has not shown the production that you desire, you cut him loose (regardless of position on the field). Three years is more than enough time to evaluate and determine if a player should be part of your team’s future. In that amount of time a player should be able to show growth (on and off the field) and consistent production at their position.
The NFL has changed over the years. Teams and players are rarely allowed the luxury to have players sit for years and develop slowly. The clock is ticking from the time a player is drafted. Players need to be able to come in immediately and produce right away. Every team in the league is taking a win now approach and can’t afford to waste valuable time waiting for a player to develop.
This brings me to our Tennessee Titans. The team has a ton of young promising players but there are a couple of players that I feel that this rule could be applied. The Titans have players on each side of the ball that I feel need to produce this year or be sent packing. One player may actually surprise you.
The defensive side of the ball has been a bit of a disappointment over the last couple of years. Over the years the Titans have been known for bringing a strong, solid defense to the field. Defenses lines that have produced Pro Bowl players like Jevon Kearse, Jason Babin, Kyle Vanden Bosch and even Albert Haynesworth. Today, one player in particular has been a huge disappointment and is a major reflection of how this defense has performed. That player is Derrick Morgan. I know injuries have played a factor early in his career but in the time Morgan has been on the field he has not had an impact on the defense. He’s rarely been able to get to the QB and considering the team drafted him with a first round pick he needs to be much more productive.
Every time I see Derrick Morgan on the field I think of a player that was drafted in front of him and what could have been if the Titans had traded up to get him. The team had an opportunity to move up and select Jason Pierre-Paul in the 2010 NFL Draft. As Pierre-Paul continued to fall in the first round I was praying that the Titans would move up to get him. I felt that he was a better prospect and had much more potential than Morgan and would have brought a different dimension to the Titans defense. Instead, the team sat back and allowed the New York Giants to select him. Since both players were selected JPP has outperformed Morgan in every aspect of the game and is the premier defensive end in the league. The difference in production is miles apart (see below).
Tackles (Career): Morgan 35 / JPP 116
Sacks (Career): Morgan 4 / JPP 21 (JPP had 4.5 in his rookie year)
Forced Fumbles (Career): Morgan 0 / JPP 4
One of the most overlooked stats may be the number of games played. Morgan has played in 19 of 32 games while JPP has not missed a game. Morgan is on his way to Bust-ville quickly and the team needs to apply the 3 & Out rule with him this year. He’s too injury prone and has drastically underperformed. He may show improvement this year but based on his prior production I’m not holding my breath.
I hate to say this but the rule also applies to WR Kenny Britt. Before everyone goes crazy, let me explain. I love his game. He’s a physical receiver that makes plays over the middle of the field. Britt could possibly be a top 10 receiver in the NFL. He’s a beast when healthy and provides huge production when he’s on the field.
That’s also the issue here. Similar to Morgan, Britt has been extremely injury prone and has not produced like a number one receiver. When I think of a #1 receiver I think of guys like Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings, Andre Johnson or even Roddy White. He has flashed greatness at times but has not produced anything close to what the players mentioned above have done in their careers. In fact, Britt’s best season (2010: 42 rec, 775 yards , 9 TDs) was hardly better than the 2011 seasons turned in by Damian Williams (45 rec, 592 yards, 5 TDs) and Lavelle Hawkins (47 rec, 470 yards, 1 TD).
I’m willing to give Britt one more season because unlike Derrick Morgan, he has been very productive when he’s been on the field. You can see the talent and the problems that he causes for defenses. Just hope that the guy can stay healthy and become the player that he has the potential to be.
Stay tuned because there may be another player added to this list by the end of the year. If he’s not the Week 1 starter the team should definitely consider applying the 3 & Out rule on him for next year.
R.I.P to Junior Seau. A true Southern CA legend.