A numbers game:A concrete look at TN's growth pt 2

Grant Halverson

A look at the improved defense according to last year's PFF numbers.

Thanks to everyone who rec'd and commented on my last article. This piece is much less speculative because the I didn't designate any rookies as starter for the Tennessee defense. The only player I did consider was Blidi Wreh-Wilson, but it felt criminal to remove Verner from the starting 11, and I consider the base defense to be a 4-3-4 so I couldn't include Verner as a NB. Without further delay, here is Part 2: Defense.

2012 Safeties: Michael Griffin (-17.7) and Jordan Babineaux (-5.1): Total [-22.8]

2013 Safeties: George Wilson (12.4) and Bernard Pollard (3.1): Total [15.5]

Summary: This was the worst unit on defense by far, and neither deserved to be on the roster in 2013. Unfortunately Griffin, who was one of the the worst safeties in the league according Pro Football Focus (86th out of 88)...and also according my eyes (89th out of 88) managed to keep his job. In an ideal defense the Titans start Wilson instead of Griffin, and Pollard enforces and patrols the middle.

2012/2013 Cornerbacks: Jason McCourty (15.0) and Alterraun Verner (7.1): Total [22.1]

Summary: The corners stay the same and honestly they deserve to. This tandem did very well considering how many plays they had to stay on the field for and how poor the safety play behind them was, as I have already shown.

2012/2013 Linebackers: Zach Brown (2.1), Colin McCarthy (-15.3), Akeem Ayers (-1.8): Total [-15]

Summary: I personally disagree with PFF here, but they are VERY stingy graders when it comes to LBs. I think a Ayers is in for a huge year as a pass rusher, and he is already a very good run defender. Brown is an electric player who really came on late in the year, and if he can start strong in year two then the sky is the limit for him. McCarthy can truly change the Tennessee defense if he can just stay healthy. Off the top of my head he honestly reminds me a little of Bob Sanders if he played MLB.

2012 Defensive Line: Kamerion Wimbley (-2.1), Sen'Derrick Marks (-7.7), Jurrell Casey (15.8), Derrick Morgan (22.7): Total [28.7]

2013 Defenisve Line: Kamerion Wimbley (-2.1), Sammie Lee Hill (5.6), Jurrell Casey (15.8), Derrick Morgan (22.7): Total [42]

Summary: The defensive line changed one piece, but it made a huge (literally) difference. Hill earned a great grade considering how few snaps he played and will make it tough sledding for opposing running games. Another underrated aspect of Hill is that he should be able to keep blockers off of Colin McCarthy which will make the whole defense better.

Where the Titans aren't finished: John Abraham (22.1), Israel Idonije (17.8), Dwight Freeney (-0.5)

Summary: If the Titans add any of these players and put them at RDE where Wimbley currently starts, they would boost the defense a lot. Only time will tell if they feel like they can squeeze a few more good years from any of these over-30 players.

2012 Optimized Overall Grade: [13.0] (16th best)

2013 Optimized Overall Grade (if the Titans stop adding now): [64.6] (7th best)

2013 Optimized Overall Grade w/ Freeney [66.2] (5th best), w/ Idonije [84.5] (4th best), w/ John Abraham [88.8] (4th best)

Summary: See how much better the Titans look on paper without the holdouts from the Fisher Era? Players like McCourty, Verner and Morgan are the exceptions, but with proven veterans this team looks outstanding. It is hard to argue just how great this team stacks up to the rest of the league, especially if the Titans add a pass rusher.

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