The Tennessee Titans defense was weakest at the safety position during the 2012 season with poor performances from everyone and absolutely no depth. Quarterbacks regularly beat the Titans with the deep ball and missed tackles plagued their play. Here are grades for each of the safeties who saw playing time.
16 games played, 78 tackles, 4 interceptions, 4 pass deflections, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles
Griffin was an easy scapegoat, having had a few rough seasons before this one. He wasn’t helped any by the fact that he was being thrown back and forth between the FS and SS positions. I still have faith in Griffin as a great safety, but this year is one he’ll want to forget. QB’s couldn’t miss throwing at him – literally. During the first half of the season QB’s had an almost perfect stat line throwing at him. He pulled it together late in the season, collecting 2 interceptions against the hapless Mark Sanchez and one against Chad Henne in the season finale.
Griff finished on a better note, but he has to be much better in 2013. I think he will be with whatever new safety is playing next to him.
12 games played, 19 tackles, 1 interceptions, 1 pass deflections, 0 sacks, 0 forced fumbles
Johnson saw his playing time drop dramatically as the season progressed, having been a starter in the first few games. His poor play led to Jordan Babineaux replacing him. Missed tackles, poor angles, and overall ugly play followed Johnson everywhere he went. He appeared to be everything I thought he was when the Titans drafted him. Johnson finished the season on IR.
Johnson has a long way to go if he wants to stay in the NFL.
16 games played, 95 tackles, 1 interceptions, 6 pass deflections, 0 sacks, 0 forced fumbles
Babineaux found himself behind Robert Johnson for the first few games of the season, which surprised everyone, considering the good job he did in 2011. In 2012 he was often out of place and struggling in coverage. It was a disappointing year for the veteran who got a 3-year extension during the offseason last year. Now he looks to be a backup at best as the Titans search for a starter this offseason.
12 games played, 16 tackles, 1 interceptions, 1 pass deflections, 0 sacks, 0 forced fumbles
Afalava joined the Titans as a free agent prior to the season starting. He wasn’t much more than a depth signing. That made it all the more easier not to be completely disappointed by him. Afalava was far from stellar, but he did have a few games that weren’t too bad. A specific example of such a game is one of Afalava’s first times on the field as a Titan when he lit up a receiver with a hard hit. I can’t remember the game, but that was the highlight of his season. Other than that, he was stuck in rotation with the rest of the safeties as they played musical chairs at the position.
This rookie unfortunately saw the field as he underwent surgery on his knee he injured prior to the Senior Bowl. Martin was a “steal” in the draft for the Titans as they got him in the 6th round of the 2012 NFL draft, but I’m not that high on him. Hopefully I’m wrong, but either way, he can’t do any worse than the rest of the guys who were on the field this past year.
OVERALL GRADE: D-
The safety play was one of a million problems for the Titans in 2012, but it still cost them games and they’ll be doing everything they can to make sure 2013 isn’t a repeat of that. Expect the Titans to bring in a starter early in the 2013 NFL draft to put next to FS Michael Griffin, who will be playing back at his natural position. Hopefully Gregg Williams has a few ideas on how to get Griffin back to Pro Bowl production levels.
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