Once again, the Tennessee Titans find themselves in a situation where the numbers aren't telling the full story.
On paper, the pass defense has been one of the worst in the NFL through the first two games of the season. They are currently allowed the 4th-most net yards per attempt and the only touchdowns the L.A. Chargers and New Orleans Saints could score were through the air, despite eight drives ending in the Tennessee Titans' redzone.
While some people might rush to their early 2024 NFL Mock Drafts to give the Tennessee Titans another corner, it isn't really as simple as that.
One of the things that has plagued the Tennessee Titans defense since Mike Vrabel's arrival, is the insistence on the cornerbacks giving big cushions to receivers. For instance, Vrabel praised Shane Bowen's adjustment of playing the cornerbacks tighter in overtime. The reason why Vrabel made that comment is because the Titans' corners spent most of the day playing way off of the Chargers' receivers.
The goal is to force the opposing offense to play perfectly, when you pair this strategy with the Titans' incredible run defense, most drives are only one incompletion away from a third down, and third down defense is where the Titans specialize.
That can be a potent combination, but if you are willingly giving up yards through the air and you are an elite run defense, that means that you can expect to be one of the worst teams in the NFL in terms of passing yards allowed.
Despite that, there have already been two players who have quietly stood out for the Tennessee Titans in the secondary.
Two young DBs standing out for Tennessee Titans early
It has been Amani Hooker who has looked like the team's most impactful safety so far this season, not Kevin Byard. Despite missing Week 2 with a concussion, he still has accounted for the team's only two turnovers of the year.
He stole the ball away from the kick returner to open Week 1, and that play turned into three points for the Tennessee Titans. He also had an interception to shut down a promising two-minute drill from the Saints to prevent them from putting up points of their own before the half.
Hooker is only 25 years old and he is under contract through the 2025 season. If he can stay healthy and manage to avoid the injuries that have plagued him over the past two seasons, he can be a big playmaker for the Tennessee Titans defense.
The other standout has been second-year cornerback Roger McCreary.
McCreary was moved to the slot this season and he has shined. First, look at these stats from Nick Suss on his performance in coverage:
That should have been expected since he was actually much better than he was given credit for as a rookie. However, what you might not have expected was how aggressive he has been in run support.
Go back to Sunday's win against the Chargers and watch what he does on the first few drives alone. He attacked quick passes by quickly flipping his hips and thumping receivers, which is exactly what you have to do in a defense that asks the cornerbacks to give a cushion.
Not only that, but he attacked the running game like a linebacker, even getting a tackle for a loss.
With Kristian Fulton and Hooker potentially returning this weekend against the Cleveland Browns, keep an eye on just how aggressive and effective this group of defensive backs can be when you understand what they are thinking and who is playing well.