While the Tennessee Titans’ offense is preparing to buck contemporary tends with their smash mouth ground and pound run approach, the defense is preparing for a different type of challenge this season.
As we know, today’s NFL is a passing league, and over the course of a 16 game regular season, the Titans will face some of the best veteran and up-and-coming gun slingers the game has to offer.
Tennessee has four games this season against top ten passing offenses from a year ago (San Diego – 4th, Detroit – 9th, Jacksonville twice – 10th).
And that’s not counting their two games against the division rival Indianapolis Colts, who were without their star quarterback for the majority of last season. With a healthy Andrew Luck, the Colts led the entire league in passing two years ago.
He’s healthy and raring to go this season.
Luck aside (no pun intended), the Titans will also face eight other qb’s that finished in the top 20 in passing yards last season.
Tennessee faces a particularly brutal five game quarterback gauntlet from late October through late November…facing Luck’s Colts on Oct 23rd and Nov 20th. Sandwiched in between are Blake Bortles’ Jags on Oct 27th, Philip Rivers’ Chargers on Nov 6th, and Aaron Rodgers’ Packers on Nov 13th.
Dick LeBeau’s unit, which quietly finished as the 7th best defense against the pass last season, will need to duplicate…and even exceed that effort this year if the Titans want to climb out of the AFC South cellar.
Luckily for Titans fans, general manager Jon Robinson worked this offseason to accomplish that goal.
In addition to adding cornerback Perrish Cox and safety Da’Norris Searcy last year via free agency, the Titans brought in free agent cornerbacks Antwon Blake and Brice McCain this offseason…as well as safety Rashad Johnson.
But Robinson wasn’t done.
Tennessee drafted defensive tackle Austin Johnson (Penn State) and sack specialist Kevin Dodd (Clemson) with their two second round picks this year to bolster a pass rush that finished 12th in the league in sacks last season (39).
In the third round Tennessee drafted safety Kevin Byard out of MTSU, as well as a couple of late round cornerbacks in LeShaun Sims (5th round) and Kalan Reed (7th round).
With all of the new additions in the secondary, Tennessee’s biggest offseason addition was the return of Jason McCourty, the team’s top cornerback that missed virtually all of last season due to injury.
Finishing 7th in overall pass defense was a remarkable feat for Tennessee last season, given the litany of injuries they suffered in the secondary that often left them short-handed.
The pass rushers and secondary will no doubt have their hands full this season, and thankfully for the Titans, there will be plenty of hands on deck this time around.
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