Nearly six months ago, the Tennessee Titans front office and its coaching staff decided to blame the team’s abysmal defense on the players rather than the coaching staff when they announced Shane Bowen would be the Defensive Coordinator in 2021.
Due to a combination of the NFL’s reduced salary cap in 2021 and the historically bad defense, the team cut/chose not to re-sign: Kenny Vaccaro, Jadeveon Clowney, DaQuan Jones, Adoree Jackson, and Desmond King.
There is a great argument to be made that the poor coaching of Shane Bowen and Mike Vrabel were more to blame than the players, but that is a topic for another article (specifically this one).
Since they decided to blame the players, that meant that free agency and the draft were going to be huge in determining whether they were right or wrong. Luckily for them, General manager Jon Robinson did an amazing job making this roster even more talented than the one that just won the AFC South with an 11-5 record.
The key move this offseason was bringing in EDGE Bud Dupree, and more than anything else, that move will determine how successful the Tennessee Titans defense will be this year.
Why signing Bud Dupree is huge for the Tennessee Titans
Rewind to 2019 and you could argue that the last time that the defense looked good was when Harold Landry was flanked by Cameron Wake. During that time the Tennessee Titans pass rush had teeth and even when Cameron Wake wasn’t getting sacks himself, he was having a big impact on Harold Landry.
Last year the Tennessee Titans tried to replace Cameron Wake with Jadeveon Clowney, but that ended up with an incredibly disappointing season (just like his time with the Seattle Seahawks ended).
With no one except for Harold Landry to rush the opposing quarterback, Tennessee Titans fans got to see just how sad Mike Vrabel/Shane Bowen’s scheme looks without a pass rush. That can’t happen again this year or else someone is getting fired.
So, with all of that pressure on the coaching staff to find their guy, the Tennessee Titans added arguably the best pass-rushing option in free agency in Bud Dupree.
If Dupree can stay healthy this season and provide the same pass-rushing productivity as an aging Cameron Wake (or more), that means that not only should he have a big season but Harold Landry should have a big season as well.
With two functional pass rushers, the hope is that the defensive backs won’t play quite as conservatively as they did in 2020 and the pass rush helps the coverage immensely. With more aggressive coverage and better pass rush comes more forced fumbles, tipped passes, and interceptions.
More turnovers mean more points on offense and imagine what the Titans would look like with a good defense and an offense that scores more points than they did in 2020. All of this starts with how well Bud Dupree can rush the quarterback and in that sense, this team will survive and thrive based on what the free agent can provide.