I am going to tell you why the key to the postseason isn’t simply Jake Locker. It’s defensive tackle Jurrell Casey. But first, I want you to think about something.
Football is back! Excluding the last week of preseason, you will not have to spend another weekend in 2013 without NFL football. Yeah, I know, it’s only preseason. But, when you’re starving, a Slim Jim sure tastes a lot like filet mignon.
Now, let’s get back to my man Jurrell. Casey has generated quite a bit of buzz this offseason. He was ranked 16th among defensive tackles for his stellar play last year by Matt Miller of Bleacher Report. Here’s what he had to say about Casey’s run-stuffing ability.
Jurrell Casey isn’t the biggest defensive tackle on the field, but he plays with strength and leverage. That’s enough to keep most blockers from holding him back. Casey is a natural nose tackle, even in a 4-3. He’ll get inside gaps to shut down the run and force multiple blockers to converge on him. That frees up Colin McCarthy and friends to make tackles. If looking at defensive tackles who make tackles, Casey is one of the best in the game at pulling down runners from his spot on the line.
One thing the Titans didn’t do well last year is stop the run. Teams were able to march up and down the field like the MTSU color guard. The Titans averaged giving up 4.5 yards per carry in 2012. When opposing offenses get four-plus yards with the run, it opens the playbook up making it very tough to defend them.
Jurrell had a good year on a bad defensive line. The addition of space-filler Sammie Lee Hill (who ranked 22nd on Matt Miller’s DT rankings) will go a long way towards freeing up Casey to have an even bigger impact in 2013. The Titans must stop the run. If the Titans can crack the top 10 in defense against the run, you will see a playoff team in Davidson County again.
The Tennessee Titans want to go back to being a smash-mouth, nasty team. That mean streak has to start in the trenches with the lines. The defensive line will live and die with Jurrell Casey.
No pressure young man.