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Brian Orakpo Holds the Key to Titans' Defensive Success

Dick LeBeau will be asking quite a bit out of first year Titan Brian Orakpo.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Titans made one of the riskiest off-season moves this season, signing the explosive yet fragile pass rusher in Brian Orakpo.  Ruston Webster is hoping that Orakpo and Derrick Morgan can provide Dick LeBeau's defense with enough pass rush to be effective.  Orakpo will be taking over Kamerion Wimbley's position from 2014 -- a spot that saw virtually zero production.

Orakpo is coming off of yet another season ending injury.  He tore his pectoral muscle for the third time in his six year career.  Perhaps what is most concerning is that Orakpo was only credited with half of a sack in the first seven games that he played in 2014.  His production was on pace to take a nosedive from 2013, where he recorded 10 sacks.

Early on during his time in Nashville, it appears that the staff is easing him back onto the field.  John Glennon offered us with this update today.

So why is Orakpo's arrival in Nashville so crucial?  When healthy, Orakpo offers a massive upgrade at edge rusher.  The Titans couldn't get pressure last season when just rushing four or even five.  It seemed like Ray Horton had to dial up a six or seven man blitz to even get close to the quarterback.

According to PFF, the Titans blitzed 32.73% of the time on passing plays.  That ranks as the 10th most in the league. Interestingly enough, most of the successful defenses (with a few exceptions) ranked near the bottom of the chart. That means that they are generating enough pressure with four man fronts.  This allows them to get the same pressure without compromising their coverages.  This will be the area in which Orakpo can help the most.

When healthy, Orakpo has proven to best a great player in the league.  However, three pectoral tears in six years have to concern you.  I like the Orakpo signing -- my problem is that the front office failed to stockpile much depth at the position.  They seem fairly comfortable with Jonathan Massaquoi and Deiontrez Mount manning the backup jobs.  Knowing Orakpo's history, I thought that adding another veteran presence was a must, but clearly Ruston Webster doesn't feel that way.

In the event that Orakpo went down, the Titans would be left with Massaquoi -- a guy who has accumulated six sacks in three full seasons as a pro -- and a rookie sixth round pick in Mount.   Sure, there are a few camp bodies in the mix as well that could stick as practice squad players, but nothing to get too excited about.

The Titans made gains at nearly every positional group possible, getting upgrades in Perrish Cox and Da'Norris Searcy.  Zach Brown should provide help at inside linebacker coming off of his injury.  Even DaQuan Jones should prove to be an upgrade over Ropati Pitoitua, but no player has more expectations riding on him than Brian Orakpo. He's truly going to be a boom or bust signing. Let's hope that he left the injury bug in Washington.