Why The Tennessee Titans Haven’t Strongly Pursued A Defensive End
September 16, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Tennessee Titans defensive end Derrick Morgan (91) and linebacker Kamerion Wimbley (95) celebrate after a sack during the second quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Currently the only gripe Tennessee Titans fans have after an eventful free agency and draft, is the lack of obvious upgrade at the pass rusher position. The Titans decided to address other positions early in the draft, and have yet to sign a marquee veteran defensive end in free agency.
One may say that the Titans don’t really need pass rush help, although Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley did play 80% of the snaps last year which is way too much. The addition of Gregg Williams, combined with the likes of Bernard Pollard, lends credence to the idea that the Titans will be more inventive in finding ways to get to the quarterback. The evolution of Akeem Ayers as a pass rusher could play into that same vein as well. Ayers and Pollard could rush out of 3-4 sets and Ruby packages respectively. The addition of 330 lb. Sammie Lee Hill in the middle of the line is expected to have a large effect as well. Morgan and Wimbley both were able to get close to the quarterback on a number of occasions last year, only to have the opposing signal caller step forward into a clean pocket to evade the outside rush. Putting Hill next to Jurrell Casey and Mike Martin on the interior of the line, should make that a lot harder on the opposing teams.
Image courtesy of ESPN.com
All this is well and good, but what fans need to realize is that the sack total of a team doesn’t translate very well to wins. As much as fans bemoan the Titans edge defenders, the team ranked 9th in the league last year, with a total of 39 sacks.
To put that in perspective, the Superbowl Champion Baltimore Ravens had 37 along with the always enviable New England Patriots. The other team in the Superbowl? The 49ers had 38.
The Seattle Seahawks, another playoff team, finished 18th in the regular season for sacks. The Washington Redskins and Indianapolis Colts both tied for 23rd ending up with a mere 32 sacks, while the mighty Atlanta Falcons with coveted John Abraham only ended the season with 29.
Yes, the Broncos, Texans, Bengals, Packers and Vikings finished in the top 10, but so did the Titans, Rams, Dolphins, Bears and Panthers.
I’m not saying sacks aren’t great and admit they do turn momentum in a game. Only they seem to be a bit overrated when it comes to a measure of a teams success.
The Titans defense had much larger problems than it’s quarterback pressure last year. Such as covering tight ends, blown assignments, and an inordinate amount of missed tackles. If those issues are addressed first and foremost, I won’t worry about the sack total so much.
Follow me on Twitter @gunnelsj