Many people have been too quick to throw dirt on the Tennessee Titans this offseason, and that is because those people get so focused on skill position players and fantasy football, that they forget to really think about defense.
Now, there is a strong case to be made that a good offense is more valuable and has more year-to-year consistency than a good defense, but it isn't an overwhelming disparity. The gap is even smaller when you are talking about defense with a great pass rush.
That brings me back to the Tennessee Titans and their sleeping giant of a defense.
According to a metric Brandon Thorn created, the Tennessee Titans have three of the most potent pass rushers in the NFL.
On a list that includes defensive linemen and EDGEs, the Tennessee Titans have 3 of the top 30 most potent pass rushers.
Tennessee Titans pass rushing accolades don't even include a Pro Bowl EDGE
Jeffery Simmons ranked 13th last season despite gutting through an ankle injury to help the team for the better part of a year.
Not only was he one of the most effective defensive tackles on this list, but he was one of the youngest players as well. The only younger player who ranked higher than Simmons was Micah Parsons, which is impressive and it reminds you just how many more dominant seasons Simmons has left.
On the other end of the age spectrum, Denico Autry was the 21st-ranked player on this list, and he was the only UDFA to make the cut. Despite his age, Autry continues to be one of the most effective pass rushers in the NFL, and Tennessee Titans fans should expect him to continue to be an impact player until he proves otherwise.
It is hard to imagine Autry being with the team in 2024 given his age, but then again if he continues to produce like this it will be hard for the Tennessee Titans to let him walk considering all of the cap space that they have.
Finally, new Tennessee Titans EDGE, Arden Key is the 30th player on the list.
Last year the Titans pass rush took a step back without Harold Landry and with Bud Dupree having another injury-riddled season. If Landry can come back anywhere near 100% while the Titans simultaneously improve the pass rush at the other EDGE position, it could pay massive dividends for this team.
While the offense has improved since last season (and there is a chance for them to get much better after the NPF suspension), it is clear that the identity of this team is going to be the defense. The key to their success is going to be how well they can play on third downs and if this team can get back to the domination that they had in 2021.