Titans Mailbag: What’s Wrong With The Titans’ Defense & Special Teams?

  • Tennessee Titans
By TreJeanWatkins November 17, 2020 0 Comment
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In the latest Titans mailbag, we discuss the Titans’ abysmal defense, their poor special teams play, and Adoree Jackson’s potential return.

The Tennessee Titans are coming off another disappointing loss, this time to the Indianapolis Colts. The division lead has disappeared for the Titans, as have their standing in the current playoff picture.

With seven more games to go, and five on the road, this team will truly be tested.

But before we get into that, let’s slow down and take some questions from readers.

What’s Up With The Titans’ Abysmal Defense?

To be honest, there’s so many small issues, that there isn’t time to run through them all.

If I had to pinpoint two struggles on defense, I’d say the lack of aggressiveness and poor play from guys who are supposed to be reliable starters.

This Titans defense doesn’t blitz quite as much as other teams, which puts more pressure on the three to four pass rushers every play. Not only that, the Titans corners have opted to give a head-scratching amount of cushion to opposing wide receivers this year, which gives up the short passes underneath.

As for the underwhelming play from this teams reliable starters, something has to change. Jayon Brown and Rashaan Evans have to figure why they struggle in run game, and have to continue to fix their issues in coverage, especially Brown. Kevin Byard‘s game seems lost right now, but with a little  film study, he could eventually toss his struggles aside.

This team has one of two choices. Either play more bump and run coverage and risk getting beat deep more, or continue with giving teams cushion underneath and letting offenses eat away at the clock. The latter doesn’t seem to be working, so it might be time to change defensive play-calling.

As for special teams, the solutions are clear.

Stop getting playing cute and man up in special teams situations. The blocked punt against the Colts was unacceptable. As for the kicking game, if Stephen Gostkowski continues to lose ball games, then make the tough decision and move on.

Why Aren’t We Seeing More Pass Breakups From The Defensive Backs?

If it seems like the Titans secondary doesn’t seem as aggressive or physical, it’s simply because this team doesn’t run a lot of bump and run or press at the line of scrimmage.

This secondary loves to give cushion to opposing wide receivers, giving pass catchers more chances to work with short passes underneath. So instead of defensive backs making plays on contested throws down the field, across the middle, and up the seam, they’re more likely to be tasked with tackling ball carriers once those short passes are completed. This conservative style of defense keeps splash plays in front, but allows the offense to march down the field methodically.

See, the thing is,  Special Teams Coordinator Craig Auckerman isn’t at fault for all of the shortcomings on special teams.

Yes, coaches do play a large part in whether a unit plays up to standards. But if the kicker keep missing kicks, there comes a time where you have to start placing the blame on the player. Then again, the punter situation against Indianapolis is too noticeable to ignore. The Kicker is one issue, but adding in misfortunes to another phase of special teams really puts Auckerman in the spotlight.

Mike Vrabel‘s Job Performance?

On a scale of 1-10, Mike Vrabel’s performance should be around  a 7.7 for how he’s performed this year.

There’s no doubt he led the Titans to their best start since 2008, and he still has them in a good spot to win the division. But his decision to hold onto Stephen Gostkowski even with all the misses this season, and the failure to hire an actual defensive coordinator weigh down his score from what it could be.

How Has Breon Borders Looked?

Borders has looked steady ever since taking over that boundary corner spot opposite Malcom Butler.

He’s covered well when given the opportunity, and he’s tackled pretty well too. The latter is something this Titans secondary wasn’t doing so well before Borders was slotted into the lineup, so it’s a welcome sight.

He looked fine against Indianapolis, but it wasn’t his best game. He’ll continue to get looks until Adoree Jackson returns, but he’s played well so far.

Ongoing Punter Concerns

Ah yes, the punter problems.

There doesn’t need to be some crazy spending spree for a temporary replacement punter. There does need to be more common sense used when deciding on one from week to week. Ryan Allen was benched after he played fairly well against Chicago. His replacement?

Trevor Daniels, who shanked a punt, and got a punt blocked against Indianapolis.

I don’t know why this needs to be said, but this team has to be smart about its punter decisions.

Adoree Jackson Potentially Returning Against Baltimore?

The timeline of Adoree Jackson’s return remains to be seen!

Jackson was activated to the active roster last Wednesday, but he didn’t play against Indianapolis. The Titans had a couple of days off after Thursday game, so that could aid in Jackson’s recovery.

But until Jackson practices for three straight days during the week, don’t get too hopeful that he returns to the lineup. It’s possible, but he shouldn’t be rushed back too soon and it’s better to take a cautious approach.

Mike Vrabel’s…..Ego?

Not really sure about this question.

If you’re speaking in regards to Vrabel’s “ego” getting in the way in terms of staff and roster decisions, then sure, it could be getting in the way. Otherwise, please elaborate!

Looking Ahead to Titans Free Agency

Good question!

If you didn’t know, the Titans have a lot of their own impending free agents.

Jayon Brown, Corey Davis, Jadeveon Clowney, DaQuan Jones, Jonnu Smith, Anthony Firkser, Desmond King, and Khari Blasingame are just some of the names that will be set to hit the market once the 2021 league year begins.

As for realistic re-signings, expect Brown, Davis, Jones, Smith, Firkser, and Blasingame as names Robinson would want to sign back as core contributors. There’s still a lot of players, but these are are some of the most important pieces to build a team around.

Now, a lot of that depends on their play for the rest of the year. Davis, Firkser, Smith, and Jones have put themselves  in a good position to stay on the roster, but need to finish strong.

Brown is a big name to watch, since his style of play at inside linebacker is what NFL defenses covet the most. His play this year has been “meh” at best, so the Titans could end up re-signing him back for less than what his original value was before this season started.

Either way, we’ll have to wait and see how this season shakes out. How this team finishes will say a lot about what the team will look like next season.

Hugs For You Suffering Football Fans Out There

The Titans’ recent stretch of bad play has fans upset, and it’s easy to understand why. The good news is the Titans are still in a good spot to win the division. They still could even host a home playoff game.

The bad news, is that it’s hard to have any confidence in this team moving forward.

Nonetheless, just breathe, and see how this season plays out. This team could turn a corner in a heartbeat.

Thank you for the questions everyone! Have a great day, and stick around here at Titans Brawl for more Titans coverage!

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