2009 Tennessee Titans Roster Review: Defensive Line

Well, I guess we can put to rest the hope that the Titans would be able to overcome the loss of Albert Haynesworth with improved depth, eh? The 2009 unit's drop-off isn't all Albert-related, but it certainly accentuated the problems and proved that in this defensive scheme a bag full of good-to-meh players isn't going to cut it. With a consistently disruptive force in the middle this defense looks like vintage Godzilla; without that player they look like the scared Japanese people.

The Dud of the Year on the defensive side of the ball would have to be Jevon Kearse. We all knew he was going to be a limited-use role player this year, but pretty quickly it became obvious that he wasn't even capable of that anymore. Add in the "Jump in the Benz" incident, and Kearse spent more time this year focusing on his iTunes playlist than he did on a playbook.

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Close on Kearse's heels for biggest disappointment was Jason Jones: the immensely talented DT just can't stay healthy. Jones was only active for 7 games, and was close to 100% for probably half of those. However, when Jones was healthy, he was an unequivocal beast. He played like a freight-train with a jock strap when he was on.  Few players show you so little in quantity, yet end up with 4 sacks, 5 passes defensed and a boatload of pressures. I said early on he was my favorite D-Lineman in a long, long time, and if he can stay healthy you'll all be saying the same thing soon.

Tony Brown was the one DT on the roster who improved over last year's performance, and he continued to strengthen his argument as perhaps Jim Washburn's greatest coaching job. Always a stout run defender, Brown really made some strides in his pass rush technique on his way to racking up 5 sacks, mostly while facing double teams. Also, Tony continued to show the Titans faithful just who on this roster has the best dance moves in a pair of pads, and it isn’t CJ2K.

The rest of the defensive tackles, save for one Tony Brown, were sometimes pretty good, but usually mediocre. Javon Haye and Kevin Vickerson looked like rotation guys. Rookie Sen'Derrick Marks showed some of the athleticism and explosion that made him a second round pick later in the year when he started to get more minutes.

Kearse's departure (Hey, I've already mentioned his name more times in this post than Mike Keith did all year) was also partly due to DE William Hayes turning the corner both figuratively and literally. By mid-season Hayes was only healthy the defensive lineman other teams really had to pay attention to. A small school prospect who was most noteworthy for being drafted out of the football factory known as Winston-Salem State, Hayes paid off the faith Jim Washburn showed on draft day this year and became a part of the solution moving forward.

KVB looked like toast most of the year.  His Boom fell to nearly court jester status before the bye week, but his play picked-up some as the season wore on.  Nobody knows for sure if he'll be back next year, but where ever he goes it'll be on the cheap after following up an injury-riddled year with a campaign like that.

Jacob Ford suited up for every game except Week 2 and saw more snaps than ever, but the production didn't increase like we'd all hoped.  Ford, a pass-rushing specialist, managed 6 sacks, but we need more form a guy with his speed on the edge.

David Ball did what David Ball does: put in solid, though unspectacular and confuse announcers who always assume the white boy lined-up at end is KVB.  Alas, he didn't get to try and top his Turkey-celebration fiasco from last year.

Eric Bakhtiari was a late season depth-addition designed mostly to frustrate members of the new and old media alike who had to spell his name correctly.

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