Recently the NFL just made a new award, and they couldn't have picked a better NFL Alumni to name it after. The Minister of Defense, and the man who coined the term QB "Sack", David D. "Deacon" Jones. The new award isn't new in the sense it hasn't been around or its a new stat, now we will actually have a title to give to the best pass-rusher in the league. One could argue that the league could have named it the Reggie White award, but you can't really argue naming an award after the guy who 1. Coined the term "Sack" and 2. Arguably had the most sacks ever in a season. Only reason he doesn't is because "Sacks" weren't an actual stat at the time.
As you can tell I'm a fan of the old-school NFL player, (which is a big reason why I like Bernard Pollard) but I'm particular a fan of Deacon Jones. I was saddened by his passing, but that man paved the ways for many DE greats, and other great pass-rushers (not all sack leaders are DE's). I hope this award is an award we as Titan fans will want as much as an MVP. A game-changing pass rusher is vital to a teams success. Examples of great pass-rushers to change a game now, Jared Allen comes to mind, so does Jason-Pierre Paul, Aldon Smith of San Fran, J.J Watt with Houston and Terrell Suggs of Baltimore.
As a Titan fan we have had our fair share of great pass-rushers. In the 1999 inaugural season the Titans drafted an Outside Linebacker "hybrid" pass rusher from Florida. That player was Jevon Kearse, who still has the record for most sacks by a rookie in a season. After Kearse, the Titans picked up an oft-injured free agent DE, but a player looking for a second chance who lived up to and past expectations. That player was Kyle Vanden Bosch. The Titans also had Albert Haynesworth who when motivated in the prime of his career, recorded double digit sacks by a DT, and they even had Kevin Carter. So we are familiar with good DE's, which brings me to my point of the article. Current Titans DE Derrick Morgan is primed to breakout and have a double digit sack season, and could quite possibly be the first ever winner of the "Deacon Jones" award.
Now Mr. Morgan hasn't completely lived up to expectations, but some of that could be contributed to the changing of position coach and his rookie year injury along with a lengthy recovery to being %100. Last year the Titans defense was quite awful in a couple games, Derrick Morgan showed great improvement and in the last game against the Jags he had a career game. He had a 5 tackle, 2 sack, and 4 QB hurry's in that game, against a decent Jags O-line. In the same year against the Chargers he also had a great game with 7 tackles and a sack, along with a couple hurry's. Last year Derrick had 6.5 sacks, with no secondary help and a very young and inexperienced line-backing corp, and he looked like he was ready to finally break-out in the last couple games of the season.
We are at our present date and everything out of camp about Morgan is good news. No injuries, a new aggressive D-coordinator, a mammoth rotational DE to give him breaks, a revamped secondary with new safeties, and an extremely talented LB corp with experience. Things are looking better this year for Morgan. Now he is playing some good Tackles in his own division, Duane Brown in Houston, Eugene Monroe in Jax, and Anthony Castonzo in Indy. Duane Brown has one Pro-bowl under his belt, Eugene Monroe is arguably one of the better Tackles and sadly plays in Jax, and Castonzo is young, but has shown lots of promise. He also has to lineup against guys like Branden Albert, Levi Brown, Jake Long, Russell Okung, Orlando Franklin, Joe Staley, and rookie D.J. Fluker. Those are some pretty good names right there, almost all of those players are pro-bowler's or have been one, with the exception of Fluker. So his work is cut out for him, but one-on-one Derrick can put on some pressure.
This year expect or at least hope that the addition of Sammie Hill and the maturation of Jurrell Casy at DT will free up Morgan from constant double teams. Gregg Williams and his aggressive blitz-packages will also free up Morgan. Akeem Ayers has turned into a bit of a pass rusher lately, and apparently he will play more on the line in the upcoming season. Morgan is also entering a contract year and is looking to make big payday. So right now Morgan has a situation set-up in his favor to succeed, but he will be battling out with other pass rusher's in the league.
Right now the league has an abundance of game changin pass rusher's. Jared Allen is always in the mix for the sack leaders and almost broke the single season sack record. Aldon Smith of San Fran is playing like a maniac on arguably the best defense in the NFL. J.J. Watt is part of Morgan's division for Houston, and he is the current defensive player of the year. Throw in players like Terrell Suggs, J.P.P of the Giants, Michael Johnson of Cincy, and rookies like Dion Jordan or Ezekiel Ansah, and Morgan is facing some tough competition.
He's not the favorite to win it, but Morgan is sure to turn a couple of heads this year, and is quite possibly the perfect Dark-Horse to win the inaugural "Deacon Jones" award. Lets hope so.
Next up: Top training camp position battles, and final 53-man roster predictions.