One Tennessee Titans player who could get a new contract with a big game

Tennessee Titans v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tennessee Titans v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

One of the real breaking points of the Tennessee Titans season was their loss against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 5.

The Colts brutally and methodically broke the Tennessee Titans defense down with an offense that blended a combination of easy passes and a very effective running game. However, eight weeks later there is one big difference in this Titans team.

No, I'm not talking about Will Levis, I'm talking about defensive tackle Teair Tart.

It seems like years ago, but for years the Tennessee Titans were one of the best run defenses in the NFL. Some of that is because the Titans play such soft coverage on the back end of their defense, but the Tennessee Titans also have had one of the best defensive tackle combos in the NFL for that stretch.

Jeffery Simmons and Teair Tart complement each other so well, Simmons is the traditional disruptive 3-technique that makes splashy plays while Tart is the prototypical nose/1-technique that eats up double-teams and can slash into the backfield and make plays against zone runs.

Teair Tart missed the first matchup between the Colts and the Titans, and it just so happens that the Tennessee Titans allowed their first 100+ yard rusher in 20+ games in that game. In case you forgot, it wasn't a Pro Bowl running back like Jonathan Taylor that broke that streak, it was backup running back and Buffalo Bills cast off Zack Moss.

Why isn't the Tennessee Titans run defense better now?

Despite getting Teair Tart back two games later, the Tennessee Titans really haven't been able to effectively stop the run since that game. Teams have a newfound confidence in the running game now that they have seen it work, and the Titans are also mismanaging their talent...again.

Since Tart has gotten back into the lineup, it certainly seems like he has been in Mike Vrabel's dog house.

Showing my math here, quotes from Mike Vrabel earlier in the season make it sound like Vrabel doesn't think Tart is working hard enough. Coincidentally, since Tart has returned from his injury he has seen his reps reduced from around 53% of the snaps to just over 40% of the snaps.

You might think that has to do with lingering injury concerns, but Teair Tart hasn't even been on the injury report as "limited" since before the Week 6 game in London.

It is a shame because Tart is clearly one of the best players on the Tennessee Titans roster. Despite missing two games this year, Tart is third on the team with 8 tackles for loss which is just 2 behind co-leaders Jeffery Simmons and Denico Autry.

To put his season into perspective, there are only 11 defensive tackles in the NFL with 8 or more tackles for loss:

1. Aaron Donald: 12
2. Ed Oliver: 11
3. Justin Madubuike: 10
4. Jeffery Simmons: 10
5. Jonathan Allen: 9
6. Chris Jones: 9
7. Daron Payne: 9
8. Teair Tart: 8
9. DeForest Buckner: 8
10. Vita Vea: 8
11. Christian Wilkins: 8

Tart did that in a measly 277 snaps, meanwhile, the average snap count of the other 10 defensive tackles on that list is twice that (551 snaps). Despite that incredible efficiency, Mike Vrabel/Shane Bowen's pet project (and bad defensive tackle) Kyle Peko has been on the field for 284 snaps...

Even if Mike Vrabel is set in his ways and stubborn to a fault, a big game from Tart against the Indianapolis Colts running game should open his eyes to something that everyone else should already see, and that is that Teair Tart should get a new contract.

If he can't see that and if Ran Carthon has any pull in the front office, he should stand on the table for the 26-year-old run-stuffer.

The argument for Tart is an easy one and he is the only player that the Tennessee Titans must re-sign this offseason. Letting him walk creates a big hole on defense that was exposed in his absence, and re-signing him secures one of the best defensive tackle tandems in the league for another 3+ seasons.

With $100 million in cap space next year, why wouldn't you keep one of the few proven, good, young players on the Tennessee Titans roster?