Tennessee Titans starting linebacker Jayon Brown is great, but this is a different type of game.
This is going to sound strange but stick with me here, I think this may have been one of the better weeks to miss Jayon Brown if the Tennessee Titans had to miss him at all.
Let me explain.
On the surface, losing your fastest linebacker against Lamar Jackson isn’t ideal. However, this week the Titans aren’t going to face a typical NFL offense. Instead, they are going to face the Baltimore Ravens offense.
I’m sure by now you know that the Ravens want to run their offense through Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram, and they want to do this by using heavy 3TE formations. So, how do you combat that?
Well, I have written about how I think the Titans would defend that in a normal situation based on the blueprint they used to stop a more run-heavy Deshaun Watson in Week 15. However, the Brown injury should change things in a unique way.
Instead of trying to do the same thing with lesser talent, this could force Dean Pees to think creatively in an effort to stop this defense with what Tennessee has available.
The more I think about it, the more I think that the Titans need to shift to a 4-4 look on rushing downs, using the three starting defensive linemen and Harold Landry on the line of scrimmage.
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This gives them the power and the flexibility to play normally and also handle the run blocking of some of the better offensive linemen in the NFL.
The primary job of those inside linebackers is to make Mark Ingram or any other running back, pay if they want to run up the middle. No free or easy yards, but instead a physical style that limits the desirability of running in those A-gaps.
On the outside, Long and Vaccaro need to be tasked with being the first men to the ball carrier on any outside run, whether that is a running back or Lamar Jackson. Ideally they would make the tackle there, but just getting a body to these guys and waiting for more DB/LB/EDGE help is enough.
When the Titans see the Ravens subbing out of their 3TE package, then they can do different things but having such a loaded box on defense should limit the strength of the Ravens offense which is obviously running the ball.
Is it perfect? No, there is still a chance that if you don’t get pass rush on a play action pass that Lamar Jackson could hit a big play though the air. However, you
have to take away what the opposing offense wants to do, first. After that you can worry about stopping their counter to that defensive alignment.
In all honesty, I could see Long playing at any of those linebacker spots and the Titans using Logan Ryan as the overhang defender (almost as a slot cornerback with no slot receiver to cover) on plays that they are more worried about the pass.
This is an incredibly intriguing matchup because no one has really been able to effectively stop the Ravens on offense. The best way to do it will come out eventually, so for now you have to try to get your best players on the field and do what you can.
The more I think about it, the more I keep coming back to this defense for the Titans.