Tennessee Titans: Could Lack of Defensive Playmakers Doom Titans?

Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE

Heading into the 2012 season,the Tennessee Titans defense is easily the weakest link on the team with no true play makers to speak of. Could this be the down fall of the team, or will Jerry put guys in place and ratchet up the defense to make plays?

Alright, we know the offense is set – barring injuries anyway – but the defense is young and inexperienced at some key positions. The defensive end position might be the biggest concern heading into this season, as well as the nickel back position. Heading into training camp, the safety position seems like the only unit on defense that won’t have many questions as to how they’ll play. The linebacking unit could be very young if Witherspoon is replaced by 2nd round pick Zach Brown. That would be a starting LB corp of McCarthy, Ayers, and Brown, with McCarthy and Ayers entering their second year and Brown being a rookie.

I’ll start with the ends.

The Titans signed Kamerion Wimbley as a FA and he may be exactly what they need, a speed rusher that can come off the edge and sack the QB. It’s funny though because we had that guy, his name was Jason Babin. I’m not down on Wimbley but the fact is he has only had one season in which he had double digit sacks and that was his rookie year. He has only forced one fumble in the past two years and collected 16 sacks in that same time as well, where as Babin has forced 5 fumbles and gotten 20.5 sacks in the same time. He was more expensive than if we would have kept Babin, but he is also younger (Wimbley is 28 and Babin is 32). Babin didn’t come into his own until two seasons ago after being a 1st round draft pick out of Western Michigan by the Houston Texans in the 2004 draft. Maybe the Titans thought we was a little long in the tooth. They also wanted to switch up philosophies and go with bigger DEs in Jerry Gray’s defense.

At 255 lbs, I hope Wimbley can stop the run because we ranked  24th in the league against the run. Last year Wimbley had seven sacks. That’s what our back up DT Karl Klug had.  His bookend Derrick Morgan is finally healthy but once again is not considered a playmaker. He’s sturdy against the run and has a high motor. Most of your sacks as a defense running a 4-3 should come from your DEs and last year as a team, we finished with just 28 sacks which had us ranked 31st in the league. That has to change this year if we want to make the playoffs.

At LB, it looks like our 2nd round pick from last year Akeem Ayers will be let loose to rush the QB more this season and if he’s successful that could be a shot in the arm that the defense really needs. Jerry Gray will put him in position to succeed and flourish. If there is a player on this defense that could really turn into a play maker, I think Ayers can. In the middle, Colin McCarthy looks like a real find. He collected two forced fumbles and an int. If Zach Brown starts in place of Will Witherspoon he will dramatically increase our speed at LB and should do well in coverage.

The CB and Safety positions are solid yet unspectacular with the starting CBs of Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner and safeties Michael Griffin and Jason Babineaux. Now notice that I said SOLID, just not spectacular.

One of the best things about football is that in a half second you can go from having a sack to having a TD thrown against you. I hope that a healthy Morgan, a fierce Wimbley, an angry Ayers, and the rest of the defensive unit really forge an identity this year. In that half a second also, you can go from being burned in coverage to having the QB throwing a duck because he’s getting hit and it turns into a pick six. I think that Jerry Gray is going to do a wonderful job this year and I really think that the defense will show dramatic improvement, but until that happens all I can do is go by what I’ve seen.

Fortunately, I’ve seen a young defense with a lot of upside, with a lot of really talented players that just need to make more plays.

What say you?

Shawn Eagle

You can follow me on twitter @RS1Eagle

 

 

Topics: Akeem Ayers, Alterraun Verner, Colin McCarthy, Derrick Morgan, Jason Babineaux, Jason McCourty, Kamerion Wimbley, Michael Griffin, Zach Brown

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  • JasonPeters

    Great article, man. I don’t know that in the end, we don’t end up playing more of a hybrid than a strict 4-3. I think Wimbley will split time between standing up, and having his hand on the ground. I expect Gray to have Wimbley in a two point stance often, as he was often in that stance and rushing for the Raiders, even at the end position.

  • seagle1

    Thanks JPete….oh I totally agree. I think Gray is going to show multiple fronts, give the QB multiple looks this season. That’s what he’s done before at Buffalo and Washington. The one thing I know is that he will do his best to put players in a position to succeed.

  • http://www.justinlstewart.com/ jstitansized

     @JasonPeters Yeah, I like Wimbley. I think Gray is excited about him and has some cool things in store for him.

  • Dlass

    DL

    Go get big Albert . He will have A Better chance here then any where else.

  • http://www.justinlstewart.com/ jstitansized

     @Dlass DT has got to be one of the strongest positions on the defensive side with the young up and comers Jurrell Casey, Karl Klug, and Mike Martin.

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  • seagle1

    @Dlass Yeah….been there, done that, that ain’t happenin…even if we only had DTs on the roster

  • seagle1

    @jstitansized @JasonPeters I just retweeted an article by Kuharsky from yesterday and surprisingly Munchak mentioned how they were more worried about Wimbley playing on the line then when he played LB…when they played them

  • seagle1

    @jstitansized @JasonPeters I got a feeling Ayers is going to be the guy moved around more to take advantage of his pass rush skills

  • Leopardalta

    I believe there is a guy on this team who comes from the birth area of football. His name is Tommie Campbell. He gave Titans a glimpse of his big play ability in a limited role. There is no doubt that he will be a future hall of famer for the Titans and for the NFL PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME. The town of Aliquippa, PA has produced TONY “HAWKEYE” DORSETT, “IRON” MIKE DITKA who are HALL OF FAMERS. TY LAW who will be a HALL OF FAMER and the well known DARRELLE “REVIS” ISLAND. If you can make it in this town you can make it in any tough, rugged big city. He is battle tested and will leave a dent in the history of the NFL and Titans. We’re counting on TOMMIE making the PRO BOWL from the birth place of AMERICAN STEEL.
     

  • seagle1

    @Leopardalta WOW….let’s not forget that this is a guy who made one play for the titans on a reverse kick return. He has the body and athleticism to be a good player, but as an old coach used to say, if you’re a star you’ll shine, let’s wait and see if he does, I hope he does

  • http://www.justinlstewart.com/ jstitansized

     @seagle1  @Leopardalta Agreed. I like the potential, but he’s a raw player with a lot to prove.

  • http://www.justinlstewart.com/ jstitansized

     @seagle1  @jstitansized  @JasonPeters Ayers will definitely be doing some interesting things, but Gray does like to confuse offenses and I’d be shocked if we don’t see Wimbley drop back into coverage straight from the line on some plays.

  • seagle1

    @jstitansized @JasonPeters Hopefully some zone blitz packages Fo sho