The final piece of the puzzle for the Tennessee Titans defense.
Halfway through the 2018 season people were very skeptical of Tennessee Titans GM Jon Robinson’s investment in cornerback Malcolm Butler.
People were quick to throw dirt on the grave of his career and honestly I wasn’t much better.
Through eight games I was thoroughly discouraged with him because he seemed like a high variance player that never got his shots in. Imagine if you had a “gunslinger” quarterback who only threw deep interceptions and never threw the long bombs and you have a pretty good idea of what Butler was as a playmaking CB who wasn’t making any plays.
However, over the last half of the season Butler transformed into a very good cornerback for the Tennessee Titans and seemingly got his confidence back to where it needed to be.
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If the Titans get 16 weeks of that player and if they can stay healthy, it could help push a top-10 defense into the top-5.
ESPN’s Turron Davenport gave Titans fans some hope that this might happen, calling him the team’s most likely candidate to “bounce back” in 2019.
Go check out the full article linked above, but this part of the analysis really stood out to me:
"He’s more comfortable in his second season under defensive coordinator Dean Pees. Added DB coach Kerry Coombs: “Malcolm was pressing early. Once he settled down and into his role he felt comfortable in a new environment and really worked on technique. The improvement in his performance level was dramatic and he’s had a really good spring.”"
Defenses are notoriously better in the second year of their implementation than they are in the first.
Whether that is because the DC now has square pegs for square holes instead of the round pegs he was forced to use in his first season, or because defense is such a “bang-bang” environment where you have to be able to react instantly, the fact of the matter is that those units are generally improved by year two.
While most of the defense thrived last year, it is exciting to think about Butler returning to his dynamic, playmaking form and if he does the Titans will be one of the scariest teams to play on a week to week basis.