Two Titans make the list, and at least one of them shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who watched this defense last year. Gerald McRath was one of the worst LBs in the league by this (admittedly limited) statistic. That fits the profile most of us have about McRath's disappointing follow-up to a promising rookie season. McRath never got close to getting his game in gear after missing the first quarter of the season due to a PED suspension. His poor performance stopping the run is not especially shocking though, as McRath has been pegged as a coverage linebacker since we drafted him. Still, with a completely new defensive staff in place, including a coordinator who has emphasized getting bigger, McRath can't afford another performance like he gave last year or he might find himself buried on the depth chart very quickly.
The part of this study for the Titans is the Run Stop Rate of Will Witherspoon, who ranked among the most prolific run stopping LBs in the league. Spoon's yardage average is a lot higher than the other top LBs, but Schatz points out that two big plays where he tracked down the ball carrier downfield skew that number. Spoon started the year out hot, racking up three sacks and a forced fumble over the first three weeks. After that point he seemed to be one of the weaker links in our porous pass coverage (especially where TEs are concerned). Still, you can't completely dismiss Witherspoon's contributions in the running game.
Both of these guys will be back with the team next season (if this damned lockout ever ends), but they've both got to work hard to improve the huge flaws opposing offenses took advantage of last season. They've both proven over their careers to be capable of playing better than we saw last season. Perhaps the new competition from Akeem Ayers and a veteran free agent would get Spoon back in gear, while I expect McRath to benefit from not starting the season on suspension.
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