Tennessee Titans defense was elite at preventing ‘explosive plays’ in 2018

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 12: Linebacker Jayon Brown
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 12: Linebacker Jayon Brown /

The Tennessee Titans defense was a top-five unit at preventing “explosive plays” during the 2018 season.

There were some memorable big plays the Tennessee Titans defense let up in 2018, but overall the team’s defense was among the league’s best at preventing “explosive plays.”

ESPN’s NFL Matchup defines “explosive plays” as running plays that produce 11 yards or more,  and passes that gain 15 yards or more.

In that metric, the Titans’ defense ranked No. 5 in the NFL last season with 117 explosive plays allowed.

As you can see, the AFC South as a whole was excellent at limiting big plays. The Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 2), the Houston Texans (tied for No. 7) and Indianapolis Colts (No. 10) were all near the top of this list.

This is a testament to how good the Titans defense was. Tennessee finished as the No. 3 scoring defense in 2018, and limiting big plays was undoubtedly a major reason for such an impressive ranking.

Despite its recent success, the Titans’ defense isn’t getting enough attention. Tennessee has arguably the deepest secondary in the NFL going into 2019, with corners Malcolm Butler, Adoree’ Jackson, and Logan Ryan, with Ryan being one of the top slot corners in the league.

Tennessee Titans safety, Kevin Byard.
NASHVILLE, TN – NOVEMBER 05: Kevin Byard #31 of the Tennessee Titans runs with the ball after a interception against the Baltimore Ravens at Nissan Stadium on November 5, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Backing them up, the Titans have Kenny Vaccaro and the “GOAT” himself, Kevin Byard, who is the highest-paid safety in the NFL and was ranked as the No. 4 safety last season and coming into this one, per Pro Football Focus.

Tennessee’s linebacker corps. consists of young studs Jayon Brown, Rashaan Evans, and Harold Landry. Brown in particular had a breakout campaign in 2018, and both Evans and Landry showed just how good they can be near the end of the season.

With the Titans’ defense playing to elite standards despite not compiling a ton of sacks or turnovers, the arrow is still pointing up and this unit still has room for improvement.

It’s one of the reasons why experts sleeping on the Titans makes no sense. Not only will the offense as a whole be improved, but the defense will return almost all of its personnel and stands to be even better.