Pro Football Focus has ranked the Tennessee Titans’ run defense in the middle of the NFL for 2019.
If there’s one part of the Tennessee Titans defense that needs improvement this upcoming season, it’s the run defense.
The Titans were the No. 18 unit against the run in terms of rushing yards allowed per game in 2018, while their pass defense was an impressive sixth despite some early-season struggles.
In ranking the run defenses of all 32 NFL teams for the 2019 season, Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner sees the Titans having the No. 16 unit.
"The Titans have the makings of something special at the linebacker position, but neither Jayon Brown nor Rashaan Evans was known for their run defense last season. Brown earned a 63.0 run-defense grade in his breakout campaign while Evans earned a 72.5."
PFF ranked the Titans’ run defense No. 15 overall after the conclusion of last season.
While Jayon Brown excelled in coverage, his one weakness was against the run, as Renner noted in his write-up. As for Rashaan Evans, he finished with a grade of 72.5, which is impressive when you consider the rough start he got off to in his rookie campaign.
With the help of fellow linebacker Wesley Woodyard, the Titans will hope their young duo can improve upon the team’s overall run defense numbers from a year ago. If that happens, it’ll be hard to find any weaknesses on this Titans defense.
Which leads me to my next point: the defensive line.
We all know just how good Jurrell Casey is on the defensive front, but he’s going to need some help. The Titans won’t have the luxury of getting a shot in the arm from first-round pick Jeffery Simmons until late in the season at best, so help will have to come in another form for now.
As it stands, the Titans will have Austin Johnson and DaQuan Jones lining up next to Casey, with former Baltimore Ravens lineman Brent Urban also in the mix. Urban is at his best pressuring the quarterback from the end, making it unlikely he’ll be a major impact player versus the run.
With that said, the Titans will need better efforts from Jones and Johnson upfront if this defense truly hopes to be elite all around.
But the real X-factor lies in Simmons. He’s a big body who can clog the middle to stop the run, and he can get to the quarterback. If the Titans can remain in the playoff hunt or better and Simmons returns, he could send this defense from really good to Super Bowl-worthy all by himself.