The Tennessee Titans just put on an absolute show (if you exclude garbage time ultra-conservative plays) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers today. Before the game I looked at three questions that the team needed to answer in this game. Let's take a look back at those.
1. Learning curve?
While a lot of positives have been made about the Tennessee Titans adding Dick LeBeau and I think they are justified. With the team in their second year in the 3-4 defense, adding a HoF coach like LeBeau should only help matters. However, Dick LeBeau is historically known for not playing people in the first year of his system.
Now, I think what helps the Titans is that his former assistant coach Ray Horton (who is a good coach in his own right) should have taught the fundamentals of this defense to the Tennessee Titans last year. It will be interesting to see just how complex this team can get with just one offseason to work on this particular playbook.
They really didn't look out of place often except for the big miss by Avery Williamson on the first touchdown of the game. In fact, two interceptions (including a pick-six) and a sub 50% completion percentage from Jameis Winston speaks very highly to just how well this team was ready to show off their knowledge of the playbook.
2. Wrinkle for Casey?
Jurrell Casey was ill fit for the 3-4 last year, but already in the preseason Titans fans should have noticed that Casey has played inside more. I believe that with the experience Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan have with their hand in the dirt that this team could have a great 4-3 look in place.
I imagine that Casey will get 10-15 snaps inside in a 4-3 look and if it is successful then this a look that the Titans may show more and more.
We saw this too. Casey had a TFL and a sack out of this look and it really showed exactly why this might be the year that Casey finally gets the recognition he deserves. There isn't much to say about this because they really didn't need him to do a lot, the perception of blitzes and the outside rush flustered Jameis Winston so much that I'm surprised he got as much major production as he did.
3. Brian Orakpo
The Titans hope that by the end of the game that they have a statement instead of a question with Brian Orakpo. All preseason he quietly wrecked opposing offensive lines and held the edge in the running game. If Brian Orakpo can stay on the field then the sky is the limit for him in this defense.
If Brian Orakpo gets going, then this defense could really catch fire. Think about it, Derrick Morgan will be seeing single blocking assignments for the first time in his life, Jurrell Casey should get to cheat over to Orakpo's side and see some rushing lanes open. On top of that, you have to assume that a more dangerous front four will lead to more blitz/coverage flexibility.
Brian Orakpo was outstanding today drawing a holding call on a would-be sack, but maybe the biggest piece of evidence in support Orakpo's performance was Derrick Morgan. Now that Morgan is single-blocked because of the aforementioned Casey and Orakpo, he showed why this signing was so big. Two sacks for Morgan and one for Casey showed exactly what this defense can look like with capable edge rushers.