If there is one thing we know about the Tennessee Titans’ defense after five games, it’s that the opposing star player won’t beat them.
Tennessee’s defense held wide receiver Jarvis Landry, Miami’s best player on offense, to 3 catches for 28 yards and no touchdowns in their dominant 30-17 victory over the Dolphins yesterday in sunny south Florida.
The receptions and yards were season lows for Landry, who entered the game as a top five player in the league in both categories.
Landry wasn’t the first star player to endure a tough day at the office courtesy of the Titans D this season, and if defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has his way, then he certainly won’t be the last.
In the season opener against the Minnesota Vikings, the Titans held a healthy Adrian Peterson, last year’s rushing champion, to a paltry 31 yards on 19 carries.
That’s less than two yards per carry, folks.
The following week the Titans traveled to Detroit to face quarterback Matthew Stafford, who lit the Indianapolis Colts’ secondary up for 340 yards and 3 touchdowns while putting 39 points on the board the previous week.
Tennessee held Stafford to his second lowest completion total of the season (22), while holding Detroit to their second lowest scoring output of the season (15). The defense’s effort kept Tennessee close enough to rally from a 12 point fourth quarter deficit.
Week three saw the Titans take on the Oakland Raiders, who were leading the league in total offense and points per game (31) entering the contest.
Tennessee’s defense pitched a second half shutout and held their best offensive weapon, wide receiver Amari Cooper, to a season low 4 catches. Oakland managed just 17 points that afternoon, also a season low.
From there the Titans traveled to Houston to take on the Texans’ 2015 Pro Bowl and first team All Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who feasted on Tennessee’s defense the last few years.
There would be no repeat performance this time, however. The Titans’ defense held Hopkins to a season low 1 catch for 4 yards.
After a sluggish preseason that saw the first team defense give up yards and points in abundance, LeBeau’s unit has been playing like gangbusters when the games started to count.
When the regular season started it was the offense that was sluggish. They have been putting the defense in an early hole recently, leaving them in survival mode.
But yesterday afternoon the offense joined the party, giving their defense an early lead over the Dolphins that they would never relinquish.
More importantly, the defense was finally in a position to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback in Miam.
And boy did they.
Tennessee’s three best pass rushers, Brian Orakpo, Derrick Morgan, and Jurrell Casey feasted on Dolphins’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill when he was forced into catch-up mode.
They each recorded two sacks apiece yesterday.
The Titans are currently 10th in the league in yards allowed per game (320) and points allowed (20.2), and have the lowly Cleveland Browns’ offense coming to town this Sunday.
Running back DeMarco Murray may be Tennessee’s MVP so far this season, but their defense is the unquestioned unsung hero.
And their performance against the upper-escelon offensive skill players should have Titans fans excited for the furture.