In the second game of Tennessee’s preseason schedule they saw plenty of good things on the defensive side of the ball. It was an all around solid performance, each phase of the defense played with discipline and hunger. Tennessee held the Bucs to 7 points, mostly thanks to a horrible throw by Locker that was intercepted and returned to the 2 yard line.
The defensive ends consistently pressured Josh Freeman and Dan Orlovsky. Tampa Bay doubled teamed Morgan and Wimbley for most of the starter reps, but they still managed several quarterback pressures and Morgan notched a sack. Morgan may be benefitting from Egboh’s extra playing time and I expect it to continue throughout the season. Kamerion Wimbley has shown great quickness of the line of scrimmage, but he needs to utilize more moves than just an outside rush.
The defensive tackles impressed me the most on defense not because of their stats, but because Tampa Bay has a top-5 interior offensive line. Casey and Marks played with fire. Sure, they got pushed around on a few plays, but they are each barely over 300 pounds. Mike Martin did not have an outstanding game, but he is surely not a disappointment. The tackle competition has certainly strengthened the talent and depth of the group.
The linebackers were excellent. They were in the backfield constantly. McCarthy continues to make plays and Ayers is coming into his own. Akeem has been working hard at his pass coverage and it is paying off. Ayers got his hand on the ball that Chris Hawkins intercepted, it was excellent defense on Ayers’ part. Zach Brown is settling in faster than I expected, but I think Witherspoon has a firm grasp on the starting spot. It has been a long time since I was comfortable with Tennessee’s backers, but I believe these guys will be the heart of our defense.
The secondary continues to play well. One big problem I have noticed is the ability of our corners to defend a 1 on 1 jump ball. That is bad news considering they will face Andre Johnson (x2), Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall/Alshon Jefferies and Jordy Nelson/Greg jennings this season. I am sure they are working to improve in this area.
Keep your eyes on Robert Johnson in Thursday’s game against the Cardinals. He is in a battle with Babs at strong safety due to injury, but if he makes some splash plays he may steal the show.
My grade for the Titans defense vs. Bucs: A-