Pro Football Focus projects the Tennessee Titans’ pass-rush to be worse than it was last season.
Despite the arrow pointing up for the Tennessee Titans’ pass-rush in 2019, Pro Football Focus believes this unit could actually be worse than it was a year ago.
In its annual rankings of the pass-rush units of all 32 NFL teams, the Titans are ranked No. 23 in PFF’s eyes.
Here’s what PFF’s Michael Renner had to say about it:
"Harold Landry is the one to watch for the Titans’ defensive front this season. We were high on him coming out as the 12th overall player on our draft board. He showed some flashes early on last season but totaled only 34 pressures for the year."
While I wouldn’t go crowning the Titans’ pass-rush just yet considering some of the hope for it is about potential, there is enough evidence to expect it will finish better than last season.
To compare, the Titans were the No. 12-ranked pass-rush going into 2018 by PFF, but finished the season at No. 22 based on its overall grade, which ranked Tennessee third in the AFC South.
Here are the players who were projected to be in the Titans’ starting lineup listed by PFF prior to 2018:
"PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP:Edge Defender: Brian Orakpo, 81.8 overall gradeDefensive Interior: Jurrell Casey, 89.7Defensive Interior: Daquan Jones, 80.8Edge Defender: Derrick Morgan, 74.8Key Rotational Player: Austin Johnson, 74.9 / Harold Landry, 83.9* (2017 college grade)"
There are two major differences there obviously, with linebackers Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan both no longer with the team. The Titans greats have since both retired after totaling two sacks combined all of last season.
Why Tennessee Titans should be ranked higher
Filling in those holes will be Harold Landry and Cameron Wake, with Landry getting a shot as a starter for a full season in his sophomore campaign.
Wake, who was a free-agent acquisition this offseason, is coming off a 2018 campaign in which he totaled six sacks. Granted, he’s not the player he once was at the age of 37, but he has been one of the most productive pass-rushers in the NFL since 2014, with the second-fewest pass-rush snaps per pressure in that time.
As for Landry, he finished with 4.5 sacks in his first season in 15 games. However, in those 15 games, Landry was mostly a rotational player and only made his first-three starts in the final three contests of the season. In the final three weeks, Landry notched two sacks and six QB Hits in total.
You have to figure with a full year of starter’s snaps, Landry will improve on that mark greatly, and he could conceivably finish with double-digit sacks en route to a breakout year.
In all, the Titans will technically be adding two starters in Landry and Wake that combined for 10.5 sacks, a full 8.5 sacks more than Morgan and Orakpo.
Another new addition, defensive end Brent Urban, will also be an upgrade. For the Baltimore Ravens last season, Urban totaled 22 QB hurries and one sack. Defensive end DaQuan Jones, on the other hand, compiled nine QB hurries and no sacks.
And we haven’t even spoke about what Rashaan Evans can bring to the table with more snaps this season.
It’s hard to fathom how this team’s pass-rush, with seemingly major improvements on paper in the starting lineup, can be ranked worse than the No. 22 finish it saw last season, instead of being ranked at least a bit higher.