In a division that may possibly end up with Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Andrew Luck, the Titans need to know how to stop very good quarterbacks. Last year the Cleveland Browns played more than a handful of good quarterbacks in good systems. So how did Ray Horton's defense match up against them?
Week 2, Joe Flacco: 66% completion percentage, 211 yards, TD, no INT
While Flacco isn't necessarily a top QB, he was good enough to win a Super Bowl with a soon to be retired Ray Lewis and a diminished Ed Reed. Flacco was held to only one TD and under 250 yards despite passing 33 times.
Week 6, Matt Stafford: 58% completion percentage, 248 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT
Stafford is known for putting up big numbers, and the Browns did little to stop that. While they did force and INT and limited his YPA the four TDs are too much for the Titans offense unless there is a significant boost in production in 2014. One issue may have been that they only sacked Stafford once, which is a unusually bad performance by a Horton defense.
Week 7, Aaron Rodgers: 69% completion percentage, 260 yards, 3 TDs, no INTs
Aaron Rodgers picked apart the Browns defense and continued to show why he is one of the best three QBs in the league. Again the Browns only managed one sack which will always make it tough to win when you go against a QB of that caliber.
Week 9, Joe Flacco: 59% completion percentage, 250 yards, 2 TDs, one INT
Now this is more like it, a sub-60% completion rate and one INT not to mention the five sacks. Two TDs is acceptable, but the most impressive thing here is how much better they did against Flacco the second time they faced him. Improvement against opposing QBs is key in the AFCS.
Week 12, Ben Roethlisberger: 64% completion percentage, 217 yards, 2 TDs, no INTs
Again the Browns only get one sack. Despite the lack of sacks, the numbers aren't bad but the Browns just didn't have the offense to overcome the Steelers. The Titans should be able to put up a better offense and if they can't overcome those paltry numbers it isn't the defense's fault.
Week 14, Tom Brady: 62% completion percentage, 418 yards, 2 TDs, one INT
Most of these yards came from what the Browns though was garbage time, but still isn't excusable. The Pats scored two TDs in the last minute to win this game, and if the Titans play this sort of prevent defense the fan base will get VERY upset considering how often it has cost the Titans the win in the past.
Week 17, Big Ben: 61% completion percentage, 179 yards, one TD, two INTs
Finally the defense put up a performance like you would expect from Ray Horton. Any time you can hold a quarterback under 200 yards it really hurts the opposing offense. Not to mention taking the ball away twice through the air. If Horton can replicate this performance when the Steelers come to Tennessee next year it would be a tough one to lose.
Average over these seven games: 62% completion percentage, 254 yards, 2 TDs, .71 INTs
Not bad numbers for a Cleveland team that was ranked 23rd in total defense just a year ago and 25th in pass defense. If he can take a Titans team that was 14th in total defense and 11th in pass defense and elevate them to a top-10/top five team defensively and hold opposing QBs to those types of numbers Tennessee should be a much better team in 2014.