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Week In Review: New Additions

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Jeff Zelevansky

So far this week the Titans have added in free agency a number of players. Dexter McCluster, Al Woods, Charlie Whitehurst, Wesley Woodyard, and Michael Oher. I look forward to most of them playing (I hope Whitehurst never has to start because that means something would have happened to Jake), and hope they all contribute to a Super Bowl winning season next year. I am hoping they sign DT Pat Sims, who was in the other day, as he's a big guy at 6'2, 310, but he stops the run well and can also rush the passer a little bit.

In regards to the signing of Woodyard, I think I was a bit harsh on him. He does one thing really well, and that's cover. Some might dispute his role, whether he fits at WLB or if we'll squeeze him into the MIKE spot, so here's some interesting insight from our own kiladil, who posted this last night.

I found this on the Broncos’ site in the thread about Woodyard:

It’s not about the MLB position, and Wesley wasn’t "just" Danny’s backup
Wesley was our "key" backup at both linebacker positions, and more importantly – and this is what’s being missed by most – he was our 2nd linebacker in the nickle for the last like four years. He is a top of the line coverage linebacker. It’s not about the base downs… it’s about the nickle downs. We’re in nickle about 65-70% of the time. Wes was the mainstay in that package. Call him a backup if we like, but he played the majority of the snaps.. even if he didn’t have a "starter" role. Wood played 67% of our snaps last year, even with his injury. And he played 82% of them the year before that. This isn’t a case of him having his role taken away. Nobody took his role, because I’m not talking about him as a MLB or him as a WLB. I’m talking about him as the coverage linebacker in the nickle. It’s a role he’s played for years, and it’s a role we have nothing but a ‘maybe’ (Steven Johnson) who can fill it.

This smells like a Horton signing through and through. Horton has specifically mentioned in interviews that defense today is all about sub-packages. He’s also mentioned repeatedly that it doesn’t matter what we look like, we’re gonna play fast and we’re gonna play aggressive. Horton’s favorite sub-package clearly seems to be the 2-4-5 nickel package. From the breakdown of Horton’s AZ defense that was linked on this site a while ago:

During the 2012 season, Ray Horton relied on the 2-4-5 defense most when matching up with teams that spent much of their time in 11 personnel. When Horton faced the New England Patriots in week two, he employed the 2-4-5 on a staggering 80 out of 82 snaps (97.6%). Even on the 17 snaps that the Patriots came out in 12 personnel, Horton used the 2-4-5. In week six against Chan Gailey’s spread offense and the Buffalo Bills, Horton used the 2-4-5 on 52 out of 69 snaps (75.4%). When the Cardinals faced the pass-heavy Detroit Lions during week 15, Horton used the 2-4-5 on 55 out of 81 snaps (67.9%).

Throughout the entire 2012 season, Horton used the 2-4-5 defense on 505 out of 1,110 snaps (45.5%). On first and second downs, Horton used the 2-4-5 on 306 out of 749 snaps (40.9%). On third downs, Horton used the 2-4-5 on 191 out of 249 snaps (76.7%).

Woodyard is a clear and natural fit inside in Horton’s 2-4-5. It seems to also follow the mold of the Seahawks. Their linebackers play fast, keep everything in front of them, and tackle well. They, along with Chancellor, are able to neutralize the short passing game while the Thomas and the corners are responsible for deep coverage. Woodyard, Brown, and Pollard could function in the same way.

Overall, he really seems like a great fit in the scheme Horton wants to put in place. I’d still like it if we added another bigger linebacker for obvious run downs. Akeem Jordan in free agency or Skov/Bullough/Borland later in the draft are possible options. Ideally you could have a bigger guy to play Mike on first down and rushing situations and then bring on Woodyard on subsequent downs. I’d even argue for having Woodyard start at WLB and having Brown as the nickle backer unless Brown steps his game up. I also love his leadership and character, and the potential to be the play-caller on defense. That was a big issue last year as well.

Some linkage now.

Michael Oher signed a 4 year, 20 million dollar deal with the Titans. Oher has flashed, but he needs to do more than that for the Titans in order to keep Jake upright.

This post by Paul Kuharsky pretty much sums up how I feel about Oher. Hopefully Bostad can do something with him. Especially in the run blocking department.

The Titans have signed Wesley Woodyard, and PK likes the deal. I'm liking it more and more, and would be even more impressed if we added a run thumper like Akeem Jordan and added some big linemen who can help in the run to keep offensive linemen of Brown and Woodyard (Hageman, Louis Nix III in the draft, Pat Sims, Vince Wilfork).

Whitehurst says he's a much better player now than he was two years ago. I cannot dispute that, so I hope he's right.

Getting Oher opens up the draft completely for the Titans who don't really have a spot where there's an absolute need.

Woodyard talks about leadership and the Titans. I'll tell you one thing, our linebackers can straight up fly.

Chaz is ready to get to work and serve as a mentor to Jake.

Quote of the Week: "I WILL CLIMB YOUR FACE" -NoogaTitan