What To Watch For During Titans’ OTAs: Defense
Yesterday, I gave a quick overview of what to expect from the Titans on the offensive side of the ball during organized team activities (OTAs). Now, let’s take a look at some of the questions facing the Titans on the defensive side of the football.
Has the Titans’ Secondary Really Improved this Offseason?
The Titans’ secondary last season was virtually nonexistent. They were led in interceptions by Perrish Cox, who finished the 2016 season with 3. Perrish Cox was recently released by the Seattle Seahawks. Really says a lot about the state of your secondary when your interception leader is no longer on the roster, doesn’t it?
This is why the Titans went out and signed the man pictured above, Logan Ryan. Ryan, who recorded 13 interceptions during his four year tenure in New England, signed a 3-year, $30 million deal with Tennessee during the offseason. The Titans also added a run-stuffing safety in Johnathan Cyprien and spent a first round draft pick on a corner in USC’s Adoree’ Jackson. But, were those moves enough to solidify the Titans’ secondary? We will just have to wait and see.
Have the Titans Improved Their Linebacking Corps?
The Titans’ linebacking corps was the strongest part of their defense in 2016. Starting OLBs Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo combined for 19.5 sacks. Starting ILBs Wesley Woodyard and Avery Williamson also did an excellent job of holding down the middle. But, this unit’s production declined toward the end of the season.
Therefore, the Titans did the best they could this offseason to add more depth to the linebacking corps. In the draft, Tennessee selected UCLA linebacker Jayon Brown and TCU linebacker Josh Carraway. Brown finished his 2016 campaign with 3 interceptions as an inside linebacker for the Bruins. He has also been “following Wesley Woodyard around wherever he goes”, according to Jim Wyatt of titansonline.com. This shows that Brown is already taking necessary steps to becoming a successful linebacker in the NFL.
It will be interesting to see how much playing time these young guys get, and how quickly they can garner more first- and second-team reps in OTAs and training camp.
Competition on the Defensive Line
I expect the Titans’ defensive line group to be extremely competitive in OTAs. The Titans are solid on the outside with ends Jurrell Casey and Daquan Jones, but the team still lacked overall depth across the board.
The Titans addressed this issue by keeping one of their own in seventh year veteran Karl Klug. Klug has recorded 74 total tackles and 20 sacks through his first six seasons, and provides very good depth for the Titans at the defensive end spot.
The Titans also got bigger on the interior of the defensive line with the addition of Sylvester Williams, who comes to the Titans from the Denver Broncos. The former 28th overall pick out of North Carolina recorded 20 tackles last season, and comes to Nashville with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. The Titans are hoping that Williams can become the nose tackle they were desperately searching for last season. Williams should provide competition for last year’s second round pick Austin Johnson as well.
The Titans finished last season ranked 20th in total defense and 30th in passing defense. Do they have the pieces they need to improve? On paper, I definitely think they do. But, much like the offensive side of the ball, only time will tell how the new pieces on defense will gel together and perform.