Aug 23, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans defensive back Michael Griffin (33) celebrates with teammate defensive back Jason McCourty (30) after running back an interception from Arizona Cardinals quarterback John Skelton (not pictured) during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE
It was a frustrating start for a Tennessee Titans defense that was supposed to look much better than last year. I’m still confused as to why the Titans weren’t able to stop the run. I’m even more confused as to why they’re not starting SS Jordan Babineaux after signing him to a 2-year extension, but we’ll get into that below…. Here’s the the Titans top three defensive players to watch Sunday:
FS/SS Michael Griffin
The Titans played him at SS this last game and boy, was that a mistake. Griffin basically took that as meaning he should bite on everything that looked like a run, and he did. It was costly for the Titans, both in broken coverage and in missed tackles. After the game Griffin acknowledge he played an awful game.
I still don’t know why the Titans have Griffin at SS when they signed SS Jordan Babineaux to a 2-year extension this offseason. Babineaux lead the team in tackles last year and started most of the games.
The Titans weakest position on defense looks to be safety after last week, with Robert Johnson doing nothing special. Hopefully the Titans drop Griffin back to FS this next game. Either way, I’ll be watching Griffin, hoping he improves on last weeks performance.
DT Karl Klug
Klug got over-used last week as DT Sen’Derrick Marks sat out with an injury. That could have been one of the reasons the run defense suffered, but that’s not why I’m going to be watching him. Last season Klug led the Titans in sacks.
Sunday Kluge was unintentionally robbed of a sack as he chased Tom Brady out of the pocket. Just as Klug was about to put his hands on Brady, rookie DT Mike Martin burst through the line and collided with Klug, taking them both out of the play.
If Marks returns by Sunday, Klug can be used much more efficiently and should be able to help bring pressure on Phillip rivers from the middle of the pocket, forcing him out to one of the sack hungry DE’s waiting on either side.
OLB Will Witherspoon/ OLB Zach Brown
McCarthy is the Titans field general on defense and the heart of the linebackers. Without him starting out there, we could see Chargers’ TE Antonio Gates absolutely shred the Titans, though Gates himself is dealing with some sore ribs. From reports, things aren’t sounding good for McCarthy playing.
If he isn’t able to go, Witherspoon will start at MLB while rookie Zach Brown will play OLB in Witherspoon’s spot. If that is the case, things could be rough. We didn’t see much or hear much about Brown during preseason as he played mostly on the 3rd team. It’s definitely a frightening proposition and something to watch in the game.
There’s who I’m watching on the defensive side of the ball come Sunday. It’ll be interesting to see how things play out if the Titans are forced to start Witherspoon at MLB with rookie Zach Brown starting at WOLB. I’m also curious to see if the Titans stick to their guns with Griffin starting at SS, which I suspect they will.
You can find me on Twitter @JustinLStewart