One of the biggest surprises this year for the Titans, has been the lack of use of Akeem Ayers.
New defensive coordinator Ray Horton came and brought a new defensive scheme with him. The Titans new 3-4 front didn't have many pieces preseason that seemed to fit, but one that looked like a sure thing was Akeem Ayers.The former UCLA Bruin was miscast for many years as a SLB in a 4-3 scheme. With the addition of Horton and new linebacker coach Lou Spanos (a former UCLA DC) it looked like a lock that Ayers would be one of the starting rush linebackers.
Fast forward to the fifth week of the season, and fans are still waiting to see him really do anything. With the Titans pass rush sputtering over the last two weeks, is it time to give Akeem Ayers another shot? If so, which Akeem Ayers will the Titans be getting?
Good Ayers- Week 9 vs Chicago, PFF rating 4.6
Ayers was a machine in this game. Against a suspect offensive line, Ayers set the edge in the running game, with five run stops. When he was allowed to rush he made it count and even ended up with a sack. This Ayers could bend the edge and really force quarterbacks to step into traffic, which is what the Titans need to compliment Casey and Klug's interior pass rush.
Bad Ayers- Week 15 vs NYJ, PFF rating -2.7
Ayers really had nothing good in this game. As a run defender he was bullied by the Jets offensive line (something that not many people could say at the height of the Sanchez era). He also wasn't finding ways to beat blocks and get into the backfield.
What is the diference:
The biggest difference between good and bad Ayers, is that when he is playing poorly he just can't seem to get any sort of bend in his body. He plays high and tight, and really doesn't show any discernible pass rushing moves. On the other hand when he looks good, he has a dip move that works very well and his flexibility looks night and day better.
So before the Titans decide the play him on Sunday, they need to as one important question, how flexible is he on game day.