Tennessee Titans: Time Of Possession…Can The Offense Really Fix The Defense?
By Josh Gunnels
Can a good offense really fix a bad defense? The Tennessee Titans seem to think so.
Oct 28, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt (18) runs after a reception against Indianapolis Colts corner back Vontae Davis (23) during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
There’s a lot of argument out there in defense of the the Titans focusing the majority of their efforts on the offensive side of the ball this off-season. Mainly that the offense’s inability to sustain drives kept the defense on the field too much, eventually wearing them down and giving the opposing offense too may opportunities.
Mike Munchak has spoken often about Time Of Possession this off season and trying to regain a better balance of ball control. The Titans have overhauled the offensive line and added power back Shonn Greene to the lineup in order to aid that goal. Not to mention the acquisition of utility tight end Delanie Walker and second round receiver Justin Hunter.
While TOP is important, and there is some validity to the argument, I find it much like the weak-back argument. People with back soreness and problems are often told that it’s because their stomach muscles are too weak. While it’s true that a strong core and stomach helps take pressure off of your back, it doesn’t make your back any stronger. Only exercising and strengthening your back can make it stronger. Your back isn’t failing because your stomach is weak, your back is failing because your back is weak.
So how does focusing the majority of efforts on the offense help the defense? It’s not the offense’s responsibility to keep their defense off the field, it’s their job to score. Period. It’s up to the defense to get themselves off the field and stop the other team.
Couldn’t we use the reverse argument? That if the defense was good, they would get off the field and give the offense more reps. More plays and more chances to score. Not to mention getting down early only eliminates plays you would like to run and turns the team one-dimensional. Why do we not fault the defense for not helping the offense enough?
Someone (I would say who if I could remember) recently pointed out the Green Bay game from last year as an example. The Titans went 3 and out on their first three drives. While there’s no excuse for that, the Titans’ defense allowed the Packers to drive and score on their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th drive consecutively. Zero stops. Not to mention allowing the Packers to score touchdowns on their first two drives directly after halftime. That level of ineptitude can’t be placed on the shoulders of the offense.
Obviously the offense and defense go hand in hand and time of possession is usually an effect and not a cause of winning. I believe the Titans’ focus on the offense this off season, even with a league worst defense, is less about helping the defense indirectly, but more about making one side of the ball great. Many of the elite franchises in the NFL really aren’t that well rounded. They truly excel on one side of the ball, which makes up for the other side which is usually somewhat deficient. It seems the Titans have chosen the offensive side of the ball to do that with, which makes sense as that side of the ball doesn’t have as far to go as the defense.
If there is any pessimism about the coming season left in this eternal optimist, it is about the defense. I just hope the exorbitant focus on the offensive side of the ball doesn’t bite the team from behind in the end. They overestimated their personnel between the 2011-2012 season. Let’s hope this isn’t a repeat.
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