In 2016, Jon Robinson had the tough task of rebuilding the Tennessee Titans from the ground up. His first draft class included three All-Pro players, including safety Kevin Byard who has been the heartbeat of the defense for nearly a decade.
Byard was playing in his 100th game on Sunday, and Titans fans don’t need a reminder of how dire it felt going into that matchup. The Tennessee Titans hosted the Las Vegas Raiders in a battle to see which team would finally get in the win column.
While it looked like a potential blowout early, the Terrance Mitchell vs Mack Hollins matchup kept the Raiders in the game. In fact, the game might not have come down to a two-point conversion attempt without Kevin Byard’s heroics earlier in the matchup.
Byard showed quick eyes and soft hands with a deflection and an interception in the endzone to stop a drive that would have put points on the board in a game where the Tennessee Titans only won by two points.
How will the next 100 games look for Kevin Byard and the Tennessee Titans?
As Kevin Byard continues to climb up the franchise leaderboard in all career stats, let’s talk about where he fits in this defense for the foreseeable future.
The Tennessee Titans defense has been a massive disappointment to this point, but a lot of that has to do with injuries. In all honesty, the 2023 Titans defense should pretty much be in place and it is filled with talented young players:
(Bold: Pro Bowl or All-Pro, Italicized: rookie contract)
EDGE: Harold Landry
DL: Jeffery Simmons
DL: Teair Tart/Naquan Jones/Denico Autry
EDGE: Rashad Weaver/Bud Dupree
LB: Zach Cunningham
LB: Monty Rice/David Long (if re-signed)
CB1: Kristian Fulton
CB2: Roger McCreary/Caleb Farley
SCB: Elijah Molden
S: Kevin Byard
S: Amani Hooker
This defense has a lot of work to do this season and the young guys on this list are going to get a chance to prove that they don’t need to be replaced at the end of the season.
Getting Elijah Molden and Bud Dupree back will make a big difference, but when the Titans are missing solid players it just casts a light on how important Kevin Byard really is. With those guys out, he made a big play the keep the Titans from letting another win slip away.
The future is bright for this defense and Byard is going to be a key part of it for a long time, and fans should celebrate him as one of the guys who helped change the culture in Tennessee and who has maintained a level of excellence that is rarely seen in the NFL.
Going forward he will continue to do the same and he will be the benchmark that every young player should aspire to be one day.