The Tennessee Titans had one of the better defenses throughout the preseason. Statistically it means nothing, but statistics are facts and Tennessee was 10th in passing yard allowed (718) and 1st in interceptions (8). Colin McCarthy had the most INTs by a single player (3).
That is all good and dandy, but it will all be forgotten when Tennessee kicks off with New England this Sunday.
One stat I was not happy with was the completion percentage by quarterbacks vs. Tennessee; 64% is way too high if a defense wants to dictate the game. This bothers me, but points allowed were low and turnovers were high. It may be that Jerry Gray deploys a disciplined, bend-but-don’t-break defense, and teaches his players to wait until the quarterback makes a mistake. I tend to prefer the defenses of Dick Lebeau, the ones that force the quarterback to make mistakes.
When I break the defense down by units I can separate which need improvement to the active players, as well as which I think need new talent.
Defensive Line: This unit is built from the inside out. Jurrell Casey and Karl Klug are good players that came from incredible value. Mike Martin is a rookie that will likely improve. Sen’Derrick Marks is a guy that played well this preseason, but if he doesn’t show up soon he will certainly be replaced next draft. Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan are locked in as the starting defensive ends, at least right now. Wimbley is a sure fire starter, but Morgan has a lot to prove this season. If he doesn’t have an above average year expect a replacement next spring.
Linebackers: This is easy. Akeem Ayers and Colin McCarthy are locked in as they have both been wonderful. Witherspoon has held off his replacement, Zach Brown (#55), thus far. It will be interesting to see how long that lasts for. I don’t see any high draft picks being spent on the backers any time soon.
Secondary: Jason McCourty and Alteraun Verner are solid cornerbacks, but neither are true shutdown guys. I am not implying that we need one as many Superbowl teams don’t deploy shutdown guys, but I do think a blue chip cornerback wouldn’t be a bad thing. The depth at cornerback is better than it has been in recent years. The safeties are in limbo. Michael Griffin is a good center field guy with excellent athletic ability, but he has to constantly save (or he thinks he does) the other safety from making mistakes. I think a play-maker at strong safety is a glaring hole in this defense.
Overall, I expect the Titans defense to finish ranked in the top-15. Their points per game will be better than their yards allowed. Turnovers and sacks will improve from last year, but they still lack play makers in the secondary and a dominate defensive end. The Titans are a young unit that with some finishing touches can be extremely good, so be patient, because I can assure you the improvement is current and on-going.
Check me out on Twitter @CM_titansized