The Titans have completed their first off-season under new General Manager, Jon Robinson. While he made some big time moves, and has provided the fanbase with hope, we are all waiting on actual production. This summer, training camp will show whether or not we will actually see it. With not much time left, we will take a look at a different topic each remaining day, until things get started.
The past couple of seasons, Michael Griffin's level of play had dropped off considerably. The middle of the field was always a weakness on any Titans' defense, and big plays were constantly made through the air. While some questioned his role, and came down to injuries and age for him. He was constantly the weak link of the defense, and the Titans suffered for it through the air. Now, they finally have two new viable options in Rashad Johnson and Kevin Byard.
The two newcomers have styles that matched the expectations of Michael Griffin the past two seasons. Both are ballhawking safeties who can play center field and make plays on the ball. This keeps the offense honest just because of the threat. By having this threat on your defense, it makes your entire secondary stronger, which in turn has an effect on the entire defense.
Rashad Johnson's niche has been making plays in the secondary, especially the past two year's. He record 9 interceptions in the past two seasons alone. However, consistent pass coverage is something that Johnson gets knocked for. If you're looking for a player comparison, it could 2010 Michael Griffin. That year, Griffin recorded 7 interceptions while playing center field and ultimately made the pro bowl. However, his pass coverage on a play by play basis was a little shoddy. Johnson could serve as a solid band-aid in Dick Lebeau's defense while the rookie, Kevin Byard gets up to speed.
Considering Byard's draft position, it would be hard to say that he is not the envisioned future at the position. Like Johnson, he can play center field, fly around, and has an outstanding ability to make plays on the ball. However, unlike Johnson, Byard has youth on his side, which will only pronounce his playmaking abilities. Dick Lebeau loves quick, shifty, dynamic free safeties that can move around, make plays, and become a chess piece. While this may not be Byard's role off the bat, he has all of the traits to make happen while Johnson holds down the fort for the time being.
Surely, both Johnson and Byard will compete over the summer for the starting gig. That being said, it is difficult not to envision both having a role in 2016. Not only can they contribute on special teams, but they can also rotate on defense, and come in on sub-packages. By replacing Michael Griffin with these two ballhawks, the Titans have strengthened the secondary. Now, we get to see the improvment this summer.