A Look at the Titans Pass Rushers

Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

The Titans woeful defense of a year ago seems far in the rear-view mirror. There are still weaknesses to be remedied however, and that got me thinking about pass rushers.

The biggest weakness of the porous 2012 Titans defense was no doubt in the secondary. With that issue well controlled (and playing at a high level all year long), there are now other areas of major concern on the team. The Titans have been a mixed bag on the defensive line this year. For every Jurrell Casey sack there has been a killer Donald Brown run.

Derrick Morgan

While Morgan has been steady this season, he is not getting the same push as last year. Though five sacks and a forced fumble are certainly not slouch numbers, I am left wanting more. I can't tell you the reason for this, but I expected more after an impressive 2012 campaign on a horrible defense. He has the tools to put up some big numbers, but for whatever reason he has not had the breakout year I expected.

Kamerion Wimbley

Wimbley has been a big disappointment considering his contract, with only a handful of pressures and 2 sacks, and a real dearth of snaps. He will be gone at the end of the season without some big time pay-cut. He has made some plays here and there, but his inconsistencies, especially against the run, make him expendable with that kind of cash.

Akeem Ayers / Zach Brown

The hybrid outside linebacker has been good at times, but again he has lacked the finishing ability you would like to see out of such an athletic pass rusher, and certainly more than his single sack. While his snaps at DE have increased of late, we didn't see much of the promised pass-rushing ability early in the year. He has also bitten far too many times on the hard-count. Brown has been more productive in fewer pass rush opportunities, generating a ton of pressures and four sacks, but even he has flagged down the stretch.

Jurrell Casey

At the tackle spots things are a little brighter. Casey has blossomed into who I consider the league's best DT. His quickness off the snap and ability to shake blockers is a thing of beauty, and he leads the league in sacks (8) at the defensive tackle position. He plays the run well, but rushing the passer (and collapsing the interior of the pocket while doing it) he is an elite player.

The Other DTs

While Sammy Hill has been disappointing in his ability to stay on the field, he, Mike Martin, and Antonio Johnson help make this DT corps one of the deepest in the league. That said, coupled with poor linebacker play, the group has allowed themselves to be gashed in the run game lately, and that is disappointing for a unit who started the season on fire against RBs and QBs alike. With Casey leading the charge, they have been good at generating interior pressure and making life difficult for QBs though.

Despite limited snaps again this year, Karl Klug has managed 2 sacks and another 2 forced fumbles, as well as one fumble recovery for a TD. Now, I know Klug is limited; he is undersized, inexperienced, etc, but last game aside, when the Titans actually generated some decent pass rush, the Titans were struggling to get consistent pressure on opposing QBs, including a game against the Raiders where they failed to notch even a single hit on Matt McGloin. While Klug is not accomplished against the run, I say it is more than reasonable at this point to give him more snaps. A pass rushing DT has a place in this league, and it isn't just in garbage time or on 3rd and forever.

Final Thoughts

Overall I am a little underwhelmed by the Titans pass rush this year. I thought we'd see more out of Brown and Ayers in the sack/pressure department, but aside from Casey, the pressure hasn't been there. I expected a little more from a Gregg Williams defense, but I suppose it is unfair to put that on him alone when he is simply an assistant. While there is certainly a whole lot of talent in this area of the team, I think adding a premier DE through the draft (and letting go of costly Wimbley) might be the thing to push this Titans defense over the edge. Now, if we can just get a lead so they can rush the passer...

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