After one of the most exciting and significant off-seasons in Tennessee Titans’ history, training camp is finally around the corner. Between positional competitions, coaching changes, and several new pieces, there are a number of interesting storylines that all Titans fans should keep an eye on this summer. The plan is took examine a new one each day until camp arrives.
Today, we will look at the 5 technique situation. During OTA’s, Ken Whisenhunt said that Daquan Jones is the new starter, over Ropati Pitoitua. While Pitoitua has not necessarily been a blatantly glaring hole on the defense, he is a very limited player with flaws in his game. On good football teams, he simply is not a starter. He does not provide much when it comes to rushing the passer, and while his run defense is a strength, it does not supersede his weakness in the passing game. There have been times in the past couple of years that the team tried to limit him to run downs only, but due to no viable options behind him, it did not work out well. Now, hopefully thanks to added depth at the position, they can use Pitoitua in the correct role, and turn him into an asset.
While Daquan Jones could potentially and hopefully be an upgrade, there is not much that we know about him yet at this point. He was inactive for 9 games, and only started 1, which was the season finale. In his limited action, there were times that he flashed, which was encouraging. In the one game that he started, he had a sack and forced fumble. However, we will not fully know about him until we see him in action this summer. He certainly has the body of a 3-4 defensive end, coming in at 6 foot 4 inches, 322 pounds, and on the surface it appears as if he can bring more against the passer than Pitoitua.
In hindsight, the Titans would have been better off getting Jones more snaps in 2014. When they drafted him, it is more likely than not that they viewed him as a potential replacement for Pitoitua on the defensive line. When things started looking like they were headed nowhere last season, which was very early, the team should have gotten him more time, whether he was ready or not. Now, we will just be learning about Jones going into the season, as opposed to getting a better read on him during borderline meaningless games last year. The Titans took a similar risk last year on defense with Blidi Wreh-Wilson. We saw virtually nothing from him in 2013, and then a huge amount of pressure was placed on him in 2014 when he wasn’t ready. It was evident early in the preseason games, but the team had already painted themselves in a corner, and had no better options. Luckily, cornerback is one of the most difficult positions to jump into as a starter, so Jones may make a smooth transition. We will find out soon.