For the third week in a row, the Tennessee Titan defense allowed a quarterback to have his way up and down the field. Then, broke his spirit and forced a red zone turnover or field goal forcing sack. Here’s a quick review of the Titan’s Week 5 performance on defense, including unit grades and selections of the “Titan” and “Terrible” player of the week.
Defensive Line – B (Leads the NFL with 22 sacks)
With the Titan defensive ends creating so much pressure the last few weeks, the Dallas Cowboys forgot to account for Jason Jones (2 sacks). Jones was so disruptive, Jason Garrett was forced to bench 3-time Pro Bowler Leonard Davis for a more nimble Montrae Holland. Felix Jones found a little too much room a times (15 rushes for 109 yards), but the line tightened up in the red zone.
Linebackers – B-
Gerald McRath (7 tackles) is back and you can sense a difference. Will Witherspoon (Tackle and 2 pass deflections) is quite possibly the best coverage linebacker the Titans have had since a young #53 roamed the open spaces. And Stephen Tulloch (8 tackles, 1 PD, and 1 INT) game ending interception finally ended Tony Romo’s 400 yard day. Still, Jason Witten had his way in the middle of the field and this unit is equally responsible for Jones 100 rushing yard game.
Defensive Backs – D+
Here’s hoping that Jason McCourty’s (arm) return will mean less Vincent Fuller and lesser Ryan Mouton sightings. Chris Hope was again sluggish to respond to zone responsibilities in front of him, which is essentially how Miles Austin got the majority of his catches and yards. Michael Griffin and Alterraun Verner each had key interceptions atoning for their toasted counterparts abysmal afternoon.
Titan Player of the Week: Alterraun Verner – What more can be said about ATV?! This young ball-hawk made the biggest play of the game and his professional career, ripping off a deflected Romo pass deep in Cowboy’s territory. This play broke the Cowboy’s momentum and ultimately gave the Titans the extra boost they needed to win.
Terrible Player of the Week: Ryan Mouton – Thankfully he is not a regular on the Titan defense. His tackle of Griffin not only prevented Griff from making a play on the ball, but sprung Austin for a 69 yard touchdown. The paths taken by Mouton and McCourty since their “education” in New England last year could not be more different.
Overall Defense Grade – B-
The Titan defense played at a high level in the first half, but low points just before halftime and the start of the second half completely erased the 17-3 lead the Titan offense had built. This mercurial secondary will have to continue to create turnovers for this bend-but-don’t-break defense to work. For now, ATV, Griffin, and company seem up to the task.