With training camp just starting the Titans are headed in with much higher expectations for the defense to play better. Last year the Titans defense was arguably one of the worst in league history, and was the worst defenses we've ever witnessed in the 15 years they have been in Nashville. With that being said the defense has no where to go but up, especially with Gregg Williams re-joining the staff. Gregg Williams realizes that if you don't have the best secondary in football, screw it blitz the QB with everything, and that is one thing the Titans were pretty bad at last year. Williams should bring some new schemes to help the pass rush, along with some free agency additions this past off season.
Instead of the Titans just sending four guys after the QB, Gregg Williams will advise (yes he is an adviser, not the D-coordinator) current DC Jerry Gray into blitzing more this year. Luckily the Titans have two pretty decent defensive ends already, and have a pretty decent outside linebacker who is turning into a pass rushing specialist.
I'm picking 4 players who could lead the team in sacks this year, but of course feel free to add your own opinion on who you think will be the team's best pass rusher.
1. DE-Derrick Morgan
I've been pretty high on Derrick Morgan this off-season and for good reason. He really looked good last year and really shined in a couple games last year. He has also slimmed down a little which should help improve his speed and initial burst against those gargantuan offensive tackles. Now of course this may be the safest pick, but if Derrick Morgan doesn't lead the team in sacks I will be very surprised. Sack prediction: +/- 12/11.
2. OLB-Akeem Ayers
Last year Akeem Ayers had 6 sacks and for the most part he was almost used more for over the middle help in passing situations. This year with the addition of Bernard Pollard, George Wilson, and maturation of Zach Brown, Ayers could be used more in blitz packages in 3rd down situations. The addition of Moise Fokou will also help Ayers because last year he was having to help the middle of the linebacker field more often than not. Mainly because Colin McCarthy couldn't stay healthy. Now they have a almost 100% healthy McCarthy and Fokou, Ayers should be able to concentrate on his position more, which means being used to rush the QB. At least we can all hope so. Sack prediction: +/- 9.
3. DT-Jurrell Casey
Maybe I'm just hoping he will lead the team in sacks, but to be honest Casey should have a breakout year this year. Everyone is talking about Morgan and Ayers having breakout years for the defense, but Casey should also be getting that type of press for once. Since Casey has been drafted he has turned into a premier run stopper, a big reason for that is because he eats up a lot of space. Why would he even be considered to in this conversation for sack leader? Simple answer, Sammie Lee Hill. The addition of Hill means Casey won't be drawing all the double teams and should be freed up to get to the QB more. Sack prediction: +/- 8/7.
4. DE-Kamerion Wimbley
I know a lot of people on here probably hate the fact I put Casey above Wimbley, considering he was brought in to help bolster the pass rush last year. The fact remains that Wimbley knows how to rush the QB, but he didn't completely live up to expectations considering he received a large chunk of change to get to the QB. A lot of the reasoning behind why he didn't live up to expectations is because opposing QB's could throw the ball all over the secondary last year. With FA additions to the secondary and Gregg Williams, I would expect Wimbley to have a much better year this year, even though he is starting to creep in age. Sack prediction: +/- 6/7.
There are other guys to consider, Zach Brown, Karl Klug, or even Bernard Pollard. Tell me who you think will lead the team in sacks.