Jim Schwartz can help the Titans pass rush.
If you have kept up with me on social media, listened to me on podcasts, read my articles, or if you have heard someone screaming every time the Tennessee Titans try to stop someone on 3rd down, then you might already know where I am going with this.
My biggest complaint with the Titans defense last year wasn’t the lack of blitzing, it wasn’t the questionable personnel decisions, it wasn’t even the cornerbacks playing 10 yards off the ball on 3rd and 4.
What never made sense to me and what I think is the biggest indicator that Shane Bowen didn’t had clue what he was doing last year, was that the Titans had this terrible tendency of dropping their best pass rusher into coverage instead of letting him rush the passer.
That is too kind, it was worse than that. Shane Bowen outright played Harold Landry as the slot corner not once, not twice, but 31 times last year! That is just unacceptable.
Enter Jim Schwartz.
The long-time defensive coordinator has been in charge of some of the best pass rushes in the NFL as a DC.
Over 14 years as a DC, Schwartz’s defenses have totaled 507 sacks which is an average of 36 sacks per season. That average is nearly double what the Titans produced in 2020 which was a paltry 19 sacks.
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One of the reasons why his defenses are so good at getting to the quarterback is because they don’t over-think situational football. On passing downs, Schwartz allows his EDGEs to pin their ears back and rush on 3rd down.
To crystalize the difference between how Schwartz and Bowen call situational football, look at the alignment and usage of each team’s best pass rusher during the 2020 season.
Brandon Graham only played 8 snaps off of the line of scrimmage all season. Everything else was on the line (generally in a 5 or 9 technique) playing where you typically associate EDGEs to play instead of doing something needlessly complicated.
Harold Landry on the other hand, played 121 snaps off of the line of scrimmage last season, dropping into coverage more than nearly every other EDGE in the NFL.
As a result, the Titans ended up with 19 sacks in 2020 while Jim Schwartz had three EDGEs with 5+ sacks last season and a whopping 49 sacks total. You read that right, the Eagles had 30 more sacks than the Titans and were outpacing them 2.5 sacks to 1.
There is so much I want to see Jim Schwartz change with the Titans defense.
I would love to the wide-nine in Tennessee again with Bud Dupree and Harold Landry pinning their ears back while Denico Autry and Jeffery Simmons wreak havoc between the tackles. However, last year was so bad that I will be happy to settle for a defense that just looks like it understands how to use their best players.
The first step is for Schwartz to convince Bowen that just because you can line a player up at a different position, doesn’t mean that you should.