Can Tennessee Titans mask personnel deficiencies within pass rush in 2024?

Jeffery Simmons #98 Tennessee Titans
Jeffery Simmons #98 Tennessee Titans / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans have had a busy offseason and have made a lot of improvements to their roster, but still have several weaknesses. One of those areas is their pass rush, specifically their depth at EDGE.

In today's NFL, you generally want at least three guys who can win as pass rushers on the outside and you can never have too many. The only guy the Titans have who is a bonafide starting edge rusher is Pro Bowler Harold Landry.

You can make an argument that Arden Key has flashed potential of being able to rush the passer at an above-average level, but he hasn't done it consistently yet.

Denico Autry had been a huge part of the pass rush for three years, but left in free agency and was never replaced. As such, the Titans will come into this season as weak at EDGE as they have been in a long time and could rank near the bottom of the league at the position.

That being said, the Titans have completely changed their defense and will be led by one of the brightest up-and-coming defensive minds in Dennard Wilson. It is not just Wilson's promise as a defensive coordinator that could help mask the deficiency at pass rush. He recently mentioned some specific tactics that could make a huge difference.

Tennessee Titans defensive offseason moves play into Dennard Wilson's philosophy

The Titans recently held a press conference with their coordinators, and Wilson talked about what a Dennard Wilson defense looks like. While his specialty is the secondary, he added that the game is won and lost in the trenches, and discussed the particular importance of an interior pass rush.

That quote is one to pay attention to and makes a lot of sense because it plays into how the Titans are built from a personnel standpoint. We know that the focal point of their defensive line is Jeffery Simmons and that offensive line coaches will game plan for him the most, but it is not just him.

The Titans drafted T'Vondre Sweat with the 38th overall pick, and people are divided about whether he was a reach with that pick. Regardless, it is clear what they were trying to accomplish with that pick. They want to be a team that dominates the A and B gaps, as Wilson specifically said, and we can tell that Sweat was absolutely one of their "guys" in the draft.

There are still questions about him, most notably whether or not he can keep his weight in check, but he is supremely talented, and if everything clicks, opposing teams will have their hands more than full.

Simmons will be feared enough as is, and by the time you throw Sweat into the mix, they will have to be triple or maybe even quadruple-teamed by opposing offensive lines, and that will make life so much easier for the guys on the edge.

Tackles will find themselves on islands having to stop Landry and Key, and may even require additional help on the outside to contain them. Once again, Landry and Key are far from generational talents, but you better believe that if they are not adequately prepared for, they will make you pay.

That is especially the case with Landry, who started last year slow after a torn ACL, but eventually got his legs back under him and finished 2023 with strong production. He will be a highly anticipated contributor for 2024, which could open up things for Key and allow him to flourish since he has his own talent and may end up benefitting from his teammates' presence.

Even without the focus on the interior defensive line, the fact that the Titans secondary has improved so dramatically will help out with the pass rush. That is especially the case in a Wilson-led defense that focuses on tight press coverage, and stingy cornerbacks mean that the front four will have that much more time to get to the quarterback.

Of course, it is asking a lot for every piece of the puzzle to fit perfectly and no matter what happens this year, the Titans will almost certainly have a big need at EDGE next offseason. But it is easy to see how they view the ideal defense, and their moves this offseason are consistent with their words and vision.