It is official. The Tennessee Titan defense is for real. However, the defensive unit’s effort was again wasted in a loss to the petulance of Kyle Orton and Josh McDaniel’s Denver Broncos. Here’s a quick review of the Titan’s Week 4 performance on defense, including unit grades and selections of the “Titan” and “Terrible” player of the week.
Five sacks, a forced fumble, and allowing only 19 rushing yards on 20 carries is the definition of domination. The defensive line rotation is collectively playing better than any unit in the NFL. The only bad news is the crushing loss of first round pick Derrick Morgan for the season. Also, the gimping of Sen’Derrick Marks leaves the Titans dangerously thin on this dominant unit.
Linebackers – B
Stephen Tulloch and Will Witherspoon continue to play solid and disciplined football in both the 4-3 and nickel packages. The Bronco tight ends found no space and seldom were the linebackers responsible for the breakdowns in zone coverage that Orton exploited throughout the day. Gerald McRath could not be coming back at a better time.
Defensive Backs – F
Alterraun Verner played admirably in his first start (11 tackles, 3 Pass Deflections), seeming just a step behind the talented Brandon Lloyd.
The good news: Lloyd is a freak of physical ability and Verner will not see receivers of his caliber every week.
The bad news: Dez Bryant is also a freak and will probably be the person Verner will find himself across from Sunday.
It is a good thing Michael Griffin (4 tackles, Interception, 1 PD) is playing at such a high level right now, because Chris Hope is rapidly becoming a liability in coverage. When an opposing quarterback passes for over 340 yards, it is impossible to give this unit a passing grade.
Titan Player of the Week: Dave Ball – If you told me at the beginning of the season that the Titans would be leading the NFL in sacks through 4 weeks and that Dave Ball was one of the biggest reasons why, I would have choked you to death with an obsolete Kyle Vanden Bosch jersey.
Terrible Player of the Week: Chris Hope – This guy is just not getting it done in coverage anymore. His complete lack of discipline and concentration on a 2nd and 25 play (ultimately resulting in a 49 yard pass interference penalty) was disgraceful. Maybe last year was not an anomaly for him like it appears to have been for Griffin.
Overall Defense Grade – C+
Unfortunately, the play of the linebackers and defensive line is still not good enough to mask the horribleness and inconsistency of the Titan secondary. Said secondary has only faced 2 legitimate quarterbacks (Orton and Eli Manning) this season, and they each jammed on this unit to the tune of 300+ yards.