Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The need for a linebacker is starting to jump off of the page when one starts talking about offseason priorities for the 2014 Tennessee Titans.
One way to change that: sign free agent Karlos Dansby. The Titans can immediately improve at linebacker by aggressively pursuing Dansby, who played with Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona from 2007-2009.
Adding Karlos Dansby immediately makes him the best tackling inside linebacker on the roster. According to Pro Football Focus, Dansby is the No. 1 linebacker in free agency. Dansby has experience playing in a 3-4 defense, and after a fantastic 2013 season in which he finished with 114 total tackles, he seems like the perfect fit for a Titans defense which is ready for a new, fresh face, who can lead and perform. Dansby also finished with 6.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 4 interceptions, and 2 touchdowns, which earned him a Second Team All-Pro spot. (All stats via ESPN).
In 2013, the Titans had a lot of confidence in their linebacking corps that they had assembled. A lot of that confidence, was put into believing guys would step up and produce in bigger roles. Zach Brown was one of the players the Titans, and many analysts believed would make huge contributions after a solid 2012 rookie campaign. Colin McCarthy, Moise Fokou, and Akeem Ayers also didn’t perform up to the standards of the fans, or coaches, and added to the disappointment.
New head coach Ken Whisenhunt and defensive coordinator Ray Horton, will look to add an impact linebacker like Dansby in free agency, and will also look to add others in the draft. The switch from former coordinator Jerry Gray’s 4-3 defense, to Horton’s 3-4, leaves the Titans with a lot of players on the current roster who may not fit schematically.
The basic keys and components to a 3-4 defense are having a nose tackle, and defensive ends that can eat up blocks. This will free up the blitzing outside linebackers, who are rushing the quarterback. The guys that play inside, are responsible for being consistent tackling machines. After analyzing the schematics of the 3-4, Titans fan may wonder, what linebackers from 2013 roster will be able to handle some of the responsibilities that come with playing such a defense?
The Titans are wondering the same thing. They have already reached out to free agent D’Qwell Jackson who was recently released from the Browns, and are expected to continue to pursue Jackson. With free agency less than a week away, expect the Titans to have Dansby on their radar, and talks to develop past the immediate stages. Having experience playing for Coach Whisenhunt in Arizona, makes Tennessee a logical landing spot for the 12th year linebacker.
If the Titans land the Second Team All-Pro, you may finally start to see an identity on the defensive side of the ball in 2014.