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Titans vs Texans Comprehensive Preview: Defense

Breaking down the Titans next match-up on the defensive side of the ball.

Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Front Three

First and foremost, the Titans have struggled mightily to stop opposition running games, and the team won't win much without that aspect changing. Al Woods has been subbing in more often for Sammie Hill, which has been good to see. Woods has been effective against the run in limited snaps, and should garner more snaps down the stretch should his solid play continue. His play has also kept rookie DaQuan Jones inactive on game days, which has been out of the norm in a rookie class where almost every drafted member is either starting or contributing in a big way.

Pitoitua and Casey will start as the other down linemen against the Texans. Casey has been strong all-around vs the run and the pass, but hasn't quite been is 2013 self. Pitoitua on the other hand is an excellent cog piece against the run, but has struggled at times to close the lateral gaps left open by the Titans outside backers. It's clear the Titans need more quality tools in the shed, or so to speak, on both the defensive line and the linebacking corps.


The Titans are now paper thin at outside linebacker, and I say that with the utmost sincerity. Following Kamerion Wimbley's injury, the Front Office decided it was the perfect time to release Shaun Phillips, leaving Derrick Morgan and Quentin Groves as the only other players who had seen time at the position this season. Only a few weeks ago Quentin Groves duties were limited to special teams, and now he is expected to be a starting outside linebacker. Against the Texans rushing attack, I expect him to be badly exposed. That said, the drop-off between him and Wimbley may be negligible at this point; the ex-Raiders/Browns OLB has been one of the worst in football this season. Throw in the exile of Akeem Ayers earlier this season, and you have a fragile OLB group that could be entirely crippled with just one more injury.

The unit has been refreshingly good at rushing the passer, more as a result of scheme than any one elite playmaker. But this pass rushing prowess means little when the unit is giving up rushes at 5+ yards per clip. With the tandem of Arian Foster and rookie standout, Alfred Blue, the Titans seem set to struggle yet again in that department.


The secondary is similarly affected by the injury bug. Michael Griffin looks to be out for this tilt against the Texans, putting yet more strain on a defensive unit that struggled with most of it's working parts healthy. George Wilson figures to slide over the FS, which could present a big coverage liability down the field for Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins to exploit. It also forces second year safety Daimion Stafford to play more of the snaps at SS, where he and Wilson had been splitting snaps in the stead of the injured Bernard Pollard.

Out wide, Blidi Wreh-Wilson should be back in action, but he was arguably outperformed by Brandon Ghee who filled in for him last week against the Eagles. While it is unlikely that any changes will be made to the depth chart, it bears mentioning that Wreh-Wilson's campaign has been a fairly rocky one. Sensabaugh has struggled after returning from his injury, leaving questions that he has lingering affects from that knock. McCourty and Wreh-Wilson will have their hands full with the Texans big receivers, though the opportunity should be there to make a play on an over-aggressive Ryan Fitzpatrick throw or two.