While they may not be underachievers, the Tennessee Titans would highly benefit if these players took the next step in their development.
It really shouldn’t be much surprise that the Tennessee Titans players outlined in this article all play defense. The Titans defense was a sight for sore eyes in 2016, and they’ll need to play much better if they want to have a chance at making the playoffs. With a handful of new additions on that side of the ball, the unit should be much improved. These players stepping up would assure the improvement.
Signed to a four year, $24 million contract during the 2015 offseason, Searcy hasn’t lived up to his relatively big contract. A dynamo on the back end who was adept in coverage and in run support, Searcy was expected to fortify the back end for the Titans. That hasn’t happened, and Searcy played a less amount of snaps than both Kevin Byard and Daimion Stafford in 2016 and just four more than Rashad Johnson.
Simply put, Searcy missed way too many tackles last season and didn’t provide much help in coverage. His Pro Bowl-caliber form of 2014 with the Buffalo Bills hasn’t translated to Nashville, and he was forced to take a pay cut this offseason. If Searcy can replicate any of his Bills form in 2017, the Titans defense will benefit greatly.
This really is not a knock on Jones. He’s a solid defensive lineman who is starting on a Dick LeBeau defense as a fourth round pick. That’s good value, but Jones is primarily a run-stopping defensive end in this defense. He is above-average in that regard, but hasn’t been productive as a pass rusher so far in his three-year career (just 2.5 sacks). I understand it’s not his job to rush the passer and provide pressure, but the defense would be in better shape if he could do that on first and second down.
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The Titans clearly have faith in him, as they promoted him to starter in his third year with the team and didn’t draft any 3-4 ends in this year’s draft. With defensive lineman Austin Johnson primed for a bigger role in his second year, Jones must keep up with the rapid development of his college teammate. Especially since Karl Klug, who replaces Jones on passing downs, is coming off a torn achilles that could heavily hinder his effectiveness.
This might be a bit unfair since Dodd is, and has been, dealing with a lingering foot injury that might never go away. Whether the injury affected his 2016 performance is a question that probably extricates a collective nod. The 33rd overall pick in last year’s draft, Dodd is currently the blip on Jon Robinson’s draft resume. With news coming out that his foot is still hurting, it’s possible he ends up being a complete bust very soon.
Getting a healthy Dodd for 2017 would be like getting an extra rookie or free agent. His position is of paramount importance, particularly because Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan can’t play every snap of every game. Orakpo has played a full 32 games with the Titans, but his past injury history is a concern. Morgan has missed six games last season. Their effectiveness waned towards the end of last season because they were playing a massive allotment of snaps. With just rookie Josh Carraway and Aaron Wallace (who profiles better as a 3-4 inside linebacker) as their backups, Dodd is highly needed.