Ranking the five best Tennessee Titans safeties to ever grace the two-tone blue since the team became the Titans in 1999.
The Tennessee Titans are still a month away from playing a real game, with a real football and real players. The offseason dead period has been especially dead ever since the Eric Decker signing, but there are articles to be written an news to be covered!
While we bring you plenty of notes from the things happening around the team, this period allows us to travel back in time and look at the franchise’s past. Up next in a series of the best Titans players at every position are the ball-hawking and hard-hitting safeties.
NOTE: These lists will only feature players that played for the team since they became the Titans in 1999.
5. Lamont Thompson (2003-2006)
Thompson got to Nashville as a 25-year-old second-year player, but it took him just one season before he became a regular starter. Despite playing on some talent-barren rosters, Thompson picked off eight passes and forced two fumbles in his three years as a starter. His nose for the ball was always apparent. Thompson fell off the map after leaving the Titans in 2006, but he was a fun watch in the midst of hopeless seasons for Titans fans.
4. Chris Hope (2006-2011)
Most Titans fans had a love-hate relationship with Hope, but he was a fine safety for many years for the two-tone blue. Signed in free agency after a four-year spell with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Hope hit his prime from 2006-2009 in Nashville. During that four-year span, Hope intercepted 14 passes and defensed 33 other ones. Hope was a key catalyst and a Pro Bowler during the Titans’ 13-3 2008 season in which the team had arguably the best defense in the NFL.
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Together with Griffin, the two were among the best safety duos in the league before age began to catch up to both of them. Hope struggled with injury during his final season, and played his final year with the team in 2011. His contributions were indispensable, though, and he should be remembered well.
3. Marcus Robertson (1991-2000)
This is a bit of a stretch since Robertson played most of his years with the Titans before 1999, but his inclusion (and Bishop’s) was necessary because of his impact during the Titans’ golden age. The yin to Bishop’s yang, Robertson was the center fielder while Bishop got his nose dirty. Robertson was allowed to roam freely and it paid off huge dividends. In 135 games with the Oilers and Titans, Robertson picked off 22 passes, with season-highs of seven, five, four and three.
Robertson transitioned to less of a free safety role once the Titans moved to Nashville, but he was still vital in the Titans’ Super Bowl run and when the Titans went 13-3 in 2000. Robertson had a short stint as the Titans’ assistant secondary coach and primary secondary coach from 2007-2011. He now coaches the defensive backs for the Denver Broncos, and his knowledge should not be taken for granted.
2. Blaine Bishop (1993-2001)
A traditional strong safety the likes of which aren’t seen anymore in today’s NFL, Bishop was a tone-setter who struck fear in opposing receivers with hard hits. Bishop formed a formidable duo with Robertson for nearly a decade, and was one of the main reasons the Titans were so successful heading into the millennium. His leadership and fierce attitude set the tone for games and seasons, and his willingness to play in the box allowed Robertson to roam behind him.
Bishop’s 12 forced fumbles rank first among Titans/Oilers defensive backs all-time. He was also a tackling machine, racking up 516 tackles through 126 games. As if that all wasn’t enough, he could also get to the quarterback, as evidenced by his 13.5 sacks, which is the second-most all-time for a Titans/Oilers defensive back. Bishop was a two-tone blue legend.
1. Michael Griffin (2007-2015)
Many will have some recency bias, rightfully so, and forget about just how good Griffin was for the Titans during his early years and through his prime. The 19th overall pick out of Texas, Griffin was drafted to be a playmaking ball-hawk, and he was exactly that. Griffin picked off three passes during his rookie year while starting 10 games and followed it up with a Pro Bowl sophomore season in which he intercepted seven passes, while racking up 172 interception yards and a touchdown that year.
Griffin’s play faded as he neared 30, with too many missed tackles hurting the team. But his overall Titans career and production is undeniable. Through nine years, he wound up with 25 interceptions (eighth-most in Titans/Oilers history), 59 passes defensed (fourth-most), 11 forced fumbles (sixth-most) and seven sacks. Griff was a legit playmaker and his prime form is yet to be replicated in the Titans’ secondary, which has resulted in some poor passing defenses over the past few years.
Honorable Mentions: Lance Schulters (huge first season with Titans with six interceptions, but none the next two years), Tank Williams (short four-year career ended with five interceptions and three forced fumbles), Vincent Fuller (great nickel cornerback and matchup safety, but didn’t start enough to make the top 5)