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Will Titans Dedication To Improving Pass Rush This Off-Season Pay Off?


In case you were doubtful based on our draft selections, the Titans organization, and specifically Coach Munchak, are indeed committed to turning around a woefully anemic pass rush last season. Anytime you finish 31′st out of 32 in anything, you should consider that a failure and either quit and go home, or do what you have to to turn things around. Thankfully, there is no quit in Tennessee Titans football; that is why Vince Young is no longer on the team.

You may not have heard of Keith Millard (and if you haven’t, you’re not reading enough Titan Sized and should be flogged gratuitously), but he is the newest addition to the Titans staff, and comes with an impressive pedigree, assuming you consider winning Defensive Player of the Year to go with 53 sacks in 6 years impressive.

“We’re starting with footwork and balance and then working to the hands,” Millard said in mid-June. “We’re basically just working two moves. We’re working a go-to move and a counter move off that. We’re not really moving forward until we get those two things down. Really, the main focus is trying to get their balance and their footwork down right now, so they have confidence in their feet and staying on their feet, so they can flip their hips and move their feet toward the quarterback at the same time, so we’re doing a lot of stuff that ties into that.” – Keith Millard

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Millard is on record as being surprised that, “A lot of this stuff is new to a lot of these guys, and even talking to some of the veterans, they’re telling me, ‘Coach, I’ve never learned this stuff before’”. This bodes exceptionally well for the team, as it indicates that the talent of all of our various members of the defensive line has yet to be tapped into and exploited on the field. Had Millard come in and said, “well, everyone seems to be doing everything right, it just so happens nobody’s very good”, then it would be time to hit the big red panic button. The person this stands to impact the most is Derrick Morgan, with whom Titan Nation waits for to signal his arrival; the third-year breakout rule is expected to go into effect.

“If [offensive linemen are] taking something away, they’re giving up something to do it,” Millard says. “That’s when you want to show them the same stuff but change it up. Keep everything on your terms.”

The one thing Millard has been emphasizing is the same thing your father probably did: The Little Things.

 “I watched some of Keith Millard’s drills and those guys on pass rushing. He’s trying to teach them the little bitty things and I told him the big thing for us is to start from zero — act as if we don’t know anything and that’s what we’ve been doing the last four weeks of taking step by step by step and then you say, ‘That’s the move you have when we get into individuals,’ so those guys are buying into it. They’re getting a lot better and really you can’t judge what you’re doing here because you don’t have any pads on. The telltale signs are going to happen really in preseason.” – Jerry Gray

Yes, lest you forget, Mr. Jerry Gray has been presiding over his defense, making sure everything being taught is reflective of the Gray way. He does, however, give his people the autonomy to conduct their drills as he sees fit. Gray is working incredibly hard to establish a tough, relentless identity on defense, and it looks as though Millard will prove to be another necessary cog in the machine of success that is to be the Tennessee Titans defense.

Follow me on Twitter @TitanSizedJason

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Tags: Derrick Morgan Jerry Gray Keith Millard Titans