It’s been a long summer, but we finally made it guys. Football season is back in action. The Titans finally got the opportunity to play against another team for the first time in over 8 months. This first preseason game gives us a sneak peak at the new players and the progress that old players have made.
The defensive line is one group that saw a lot of changes for the Titan’s this offseason. It is apparent that the Titan’s wanted to get better in the trenches. They addressed this by adding Jeffery Simmons, Cameron Wake, and Brent Urban. Although two out of these three didn’t play in the first preseason game against the Eagles, we still saw a lot of action from the other guys that we have had on the roster. In this article, I wanted to go through some film on the defensive lineman and how they did in the first preseason game against the Eagles.
Let’s get started with the player who I thought had the best showing on Thursday night. I was immediately impressed by the progress that Finch has made over the offseason.
Let’s start off with Finch’s near sack. Finch does his best Harold Landry “Dip and Bend” impersonation and it proves to be quite effective. Finch gets around the Eagle’s tackle and dips his body to avoid the hands of the tackle. He shows great hip flexibility to bend the corner and shorten his path towards the QB. Finch is within arms reach of the QB, but just barely misses the sack.
Finch again shows off his dip and bend (on the right side). This move was effective all game against Eagle’s Jordan Mailata, who played football for the first time last year. We will take Finch’s performance with a grain of salt, as Mailata is still in the developmental stages as a player. I will be interested to see how Finch fares against superior talent.
This next rep highlights Sharif’s explosive ball get off. Right off the snap, he is able to beat Mailata with his speed. It looks like Mailata is looking for the stunt and Sharif is able to capitalize on this mental error. He pressures the QB and causes the quick throw.
Also, check out Sharif Finch’s stride length. Look at the distance he travels from the LOS in only three steps.
Finch also showed off his impressive length (again on the right side). He uses his 33 7/8” arms to keep Mailata from effectively landing a punch.
On this next pass rush, Sharif shows the ability to counter his pass rush moves and to react to what the tackle gives him. As Finch feels Mailata over setting the outside speed rush, Sharif comes back inside with a beautiful spin move. Notice how he whips his left arm to Mailata’s back to propel himself inside. This is a well executed spin move, something that I would love to see Harold Landry develop into his pass rush arsenal as well.
This one rep shows us Finch’s development as a pass rusher. He is starting to rush with a plan in mind and taking advantage of what his opponent is giving him. As a pass rusher, this should give fans a lot to be optimistic about as he continues to develop and learns to string moves together.
Now finally, I have one clip saved for his run defense. He wasn’t a difference maker against the run in this game, but what I did notice was his great effort and athleticism. Although the run is initially away from his side, he disengages quickly from his blocks and finds the RB in the back field for a loss. Hustle goes a long way on defense.
Overall, I was pleased with Sharif Finch’s performance. You can see that he has been working on his game and is developing nicely. However again, be wary of his success against Mailata. We will still have to see how he performs against stiffer competition.
In terms of production, Daquan Jones is looking to bounce back this season after registering 0 sacks in 2018. Obviously the stats don’t paint the whole picture, but I’m sure he would like to produce a bit more statistically. From all accounts, it does seem like Jones had a fantastic offseason, working out with Harold Landry.
In his few snaps, I thought Daquan look really good. He looked a bit more disruptive against the run and looked strong with his pass rush. He may not produce the numbers that Jurrell Casey will from the 3 technique, but Jones is a player who’s impact may not alway show up on his stats.
On this first run play, Jones is able to use his heavy hands to throw the offensive lineman off of him and make the tackle against the ball carrier. I hope we can see this with more consistency during the season.
On this next play, Jones (#90 - sorry the red circle wasn’t working) stands stout by stalemating the double team and then disengaging from the block to make the tackle. Those summer workouts with Harold Landry look to be paying off as his upper and lower body look a lot stronger in this small sample size.
Again, Daquan Jones receives a double team on his pass rush. Even against two blockers, he is able to push the pocket back and make the QB feel uncomfortable.
I was pretty down on Jones after last season, but perhaps he is back to full strength after a full year recovering from his torn biceps in 2017. As I said before, he looks much stronger and stout against his blocks. I expect Daquan to continue to do all the dirty work in the trenches, but hopefully this will translate to a bit more production this season.
It was also nice to see Austin Johnson show some flashes during this first preseason game. Up to this point in his career, he has been practically a non-factor, only conjuring up 2.5 total sacks in his first three seasons. We will need to see some massive improvements from Johnson if he wants to stay on this team long term.
Check out this beautiful swipe-rip move from Austin Johnson. He effectively uses his hands to create some pressure from the inside, something we have not seen from anyone other than Jurrell Casey. Johnson swipes away the initial strike from the guard and then rips underneath inside arm to get to the QB. He then looks like he has a clear path to the QB, but is held at the end of this play.
On this next clip, he is initially pushed back by the double team, but he is then able to regain his feet and recover. He then uses a swim move to get around the offensive lineman and get in the path of the ball carrier. He doesn’t make the tackle, but we are just looking at his ability to disengage from his blocks against the run.
Although we do not see Austin Johnson do too much here, it is nice seeing him use his hands more to be disruptive (something that he hasn’t done much of in previous season). However with the addition of Urban and Simmons, Johnson may not see as much action this season.
Urban is one the new free agent signings and he brings a unique skillset to the table. He is much longer and lankier than the other players on the line, but he is also a stout run defender. I was not too familiar with Urban’s game, so it was nice to get some exposure as to what he can bring to the table this season.
Although he stands at 6’7”, Urban does a great job of getting his pad level low to maintain his leverage. His hand placement on the offensive linemen is great here too. He gets his hands square on the inside shoulders of #69 and is able to push him to the ground and get the the running back. He doesn’t make the tackle, but he still disrupts this run. He looks to be the run defender he was advertised to be.
This next clip shows off Urban’s strength and athleticism. Watch how he chases the QB all the way to the sideline. For a lineman weighing 300 lbs, he’s got some decent wheels.
I didn’t get too much from Urban this game, but I will be keeping a close eye on him the rest of the preseason.
I saw flashes and improvements from each of the players in this article, except for Kamalei Correa. However, this could just be because he had the had the most difficult matchup going up against Eagle’s 1st round pick Andre Dillard.
All I need is one clip to sum up the night that Correa had. For nearly every play, it seemed like Correa had no rush plan and rarely used his hands to disengage. Every play all he does is try to bull rush the tackle. Against a good tackle like Dillard, you are going to need to bring more than that to your pass rush. Correa was shut out all night by Dillard and made almost no impact on the game.
Moving forward, I would like to see Correa diversify his pass rush and to use his hands more to free himself up. Being his fourth year in the league, I expect to see more from Correa.
Overall, it was a great night for the defensive line. I will try to keep doing these film intensive reviews throughout the preseason, so make sure to keep a look out for more articles. Also, make sure to follow me @TitansTape on Twitter for more Titan’s related content!