By reader request, here's what I would do if I were in charge of the Titans defense this week. Some of this will deal with players, some of it with schemes. I'll be the first to admit I'm not a scheme expert, so most if not all of this will be extremely basic stuff. Still, I'd like to try my hand at this.
Take the leap of faith for some defensive ideas.
1) Play Jordan Babineaux, in Michael Griffin's spot.
I don't know who Babineaux ticked off in the coaching staff, but he seemed like the "least awful" safety on the team. Why is he replacing Michael Griffin? Let's face it, this isn't a playoff team and it's time to find long term solutions at some critical positions. We know what we have in Griff. At best he's a mediocre safety and it's time for him to stop riding on his 2008 season. Robert Johnson's had his struggles too, but he's still an unknown variable. Maybe he pans out, maybe he doesn't but no one at this time can give us a definitive answer. It's time to find out. Once we know more about RoJo, then we'll really be able to find out who gets the title of least awful safety on the team. I want to see Babineaux-Johnson in the secondary.
2) Blitz. Like crazy.
This one is a tough call. As a lot of respected commenters have pointed out in the past two weeks, against guys like Tom Brady and Philip Rivers blitzing is going to get you burned many times. So why do I recommend this? If we're going to get burned, I want to go down swinging. Sure the best way to throw Brady and Rivers off their game is to get great pressure with only a four man front, but we don't have that luxury. Our defensive line played much better against San Diego, but I don't have much confidence they can be consistent week to week. We've sat back in coverage and STILL had big plays all over the field. It's time to be proactive and hit the QB as much as possible. Now, I'd lessen my stance on this if the defensive line actually does continue to play well, but that is on a wait and see approach for now.
3) Use more nickel and dime sets.
This may seem to be the exact opposite of the second point, but it goes hand and hand. I want to blitz out of extra DB packages. Remember the talk about the Ruby package in the offseason? About how the "big nickel" package? The benefit to using these sets is that pre-snap there can be many moving parts, so its a lot harder for the offense to know where the pressure's coming from. I can tie in the first point here too. There's no doubt in my mind Michael Griffin is the fastest of the three safeties. As the third safety we can get him moving around pre-snap and blitzing from various spots on the field. Even Griffin can't screw up the assignment of "Run straight to the QB!" The added bonus on this is that it can bring lessen the amount of snaps from the linebackers. We missed Colin McCarthy dearly, Will Witherspoon's mediocre and Zach Brown is still a project. The Ruby's 3-2-6 for instance, allows us to use just Ayers and just one more, which makes it easier to hide the linebacking weaknesses.
4) More Klug.
Coming into the year I thought Klug's stats would drop simply because it'd be near impossible to keep last year's pace up. I still thought he'd have an impact by drawing a lot more attention, but he's not getting the chance. Right now he's getting 4th DT reps on the rotation. Yes, even DaJohn Harris got more snaps than him last game. There's no reason that should be happening.
5) Play angry.
This one can't be placed completely on Gray, nor is it something easy to fix. In general, I just want to see more energy from this team. More effort, more competitive spirit. It's hard to explain, but when you watch the game you just feel something's missing. This goes with the point on more blitzing. I want our defense to be feared. We're not going to be a top defense, but I still want to take a toll on the opposing offense. This team needs someone with Finnegan's attitude. Who says we have to be best friends with our opponents? I want teams to hate playing us.