Fellow MCM writer Jlomas put up a nice post on Saturday that broke down each of Karl Klug's plays from the first preseason game. Overall not a bad performance, and in limited action showed up on tape by being in the quarterbacks face on passing downs.
Karl Klug became a fan favorite as the somewhat undersized defensive tackle racked up 4 of his 7 sacks in last 5 games of 2011. At 6'-3" and 275 pounds, Klug was figured to get increased playing time in 2012. That never happened.
One of the bigger questions fans had in the 2012 season was why Klug wasn't seeing the field more. The defense was deplorable in every sense of the word, so it's not like it could have been worse. The only answer I can come up with is that Jerry Gray viewed Klug as a passing down defensive tackle and too small to hold up against the run. My theory followed this logic into thinking if the Titans defense of 2011 continually allowed opposing offenses to stay in first and second down, then there would be less opportunity for Klug to see the field.
In 2011 the Titans were last in the league in opponent 3rd downs per game with 14.8. The Titans rose to 19th in 2012 with an average of 13.4 third downs per game. While this indicates a drop in passing down situations let's also look at the opponents' plays per game. The 2011 Titans were a measly 31st in the league with an opponent average of 32:05 in TOP, only to slip down into last place in 2012 with an opponent average of 32:35 per game. The plays per game were about the same as well, with an average of 67.9 and 67.5.
So what does this all tell us? While the move from 32 to 19th may seem a significant less 3rd down percentage, it only adds up to 1.5 3rd downs per game. This shows a disproportionate amount of reduced playing time for Klug vs. 3rd down situations for. So what about 2nd down? Could the 2011 defense have kept opponents in longer second down situations which would put Klug on the field more? Perhaps, but all but one of Klug's sacks in 2011 came on third down while the other was on a first down.
The Titans defensive staff has been clamoring for size ever since coordinator Jerry Gray took over. The Titans spent this off season bringing in 328 pound Sammie Lee-Hill and the 298 pound defensive end Ropati Pitoitua to add mass along side Jurrell Casey and Mike Martin. At 6'-3" and 278 pounds, Klug doesn't fit the bill of what they are looking for, but the results are hard to argue with. He led defensive tackles with 3.5 sacks in 2012 while only playing 22% of the Titans defensive snaps in lieu of now departed Sen'Derrick Marks.
It's hard to know exactly what is in the coaches head, and I am the first to admit they see things in practice and on tape that the fans never do. In most cases I defer to the professional's opinion when it comes to who is starting and who is riding the pine, but this one is quite the head scratcher. Is it simply a matter of run down vs. pass down?Klug led the team in sacks a tackle in 2011, barely saw the field in 2012, and is now being moved around as the coaches try and find a spot for him. This one may be simpler than they are making it. His spot is defensive tackle, and he seems pretty darn good at it.