When I took over as the publisher of this site I wanted to look at some fresh ideas of how to cover the Titans so that this page was not a cookie-cutter approach that read like every other site dedicated to the Titans. After running through many ideas on some things to do the idea of writing a plain spoken, honest opinion of what we saw through a week of practice and that weeks game came to mind.
This is the first of those columns that will appear on the site every Monday. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed the idea of being able to share in this form.
All week long we watched the Titans go through their practices and heard the common theme of the defense needs to start faster and not give up points on the opponents first possession of the game. It was talked about everyday in every way by the defensive starters.
Saturday night in the Georgia Dome those defenders got their chance to show what we had heard them talk about all week. As it turned out it was more of the same as Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons offense drove the football down the field and scored on the opening possession when Ryan hit Devin Hester on a simple slant route for a score.
The starting defense also allowed another long touchdown play to the Falcons as this time Ryan connected with Julio Jones who broke tackles and outraced other defenders to the endzone.
Should we be alarmed by this first drive trend?
There are of course two schools of thought about this, and I am of the opinion that while this is certainly of concern, this is not something to raise the panic meter over right now.
Yes this is still the preseason and the teams are not scheming and game planning as they will in the regular season, and some of those things definitely factor into what we have seen transpire.
The biggest thing to me was the just plain sloppy tackling that took place on Saturday night. That is easily correctable with more work. Under the new limits of the CBA and because of injury concerns the actual "practice" of tackling is one of the least worked on parts of camp.
What is more concerning to me is the fact that the first team defense has had a hard time finding its way to opposing quarterbacks. Matt Ryan was protected and given time to scan the field and find open receivers.
It was not until the second quarter against the Falcons, when Sammie Hill got to Ryan that the starting defenders recorded their first sack of the preseason. They would add a second sack in the third quarter when Jurrell Casey got home to drop T.J. Yates, but Casey was then working against second team players.
While on film it seems that Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley are doing well with the move to stand up outside linebackers, playing in coverage and against the run, they are not generating much pass rush off the edges.
I'm not pretending to be a coach and evaluate this defensive scheme, but the lack of pressure to me is troubling. Ray Horton is known as a defensive guru, and watching him work and coach in practice it is evident that he knows what he is doing and works hard as a coach teaching the players what he wants.
Horton is facing a challenge that is not of his making. He is attempting to place the players he inherited on this Titans roster into his defensive scheme. This defense was suspect at best last year and thinking that they can change from what they were to what we hope for them to be might be more than any defensive coordinator can accomplish.
As I said before, I'm not pushing the panic button. Horton and company may well have something in their back pocket we have not seen yet, but through the first three preseason games I have to say that this lack of pass rush is the area of my biggest concern as we approach the start of the regular season.