The Titans lost star linebacker Jayon Brown to a season ending injury last week. Brown was the defender that communicated with the coaches on the sidelines. He had also played a whopping 97% of the team’s defensive snaps before the injury. Even if his play was a little up and down this season, he’s incredibly important to what this team does on defense.
It was important to monitor how the team would look to replace Brown on the field. When he left last week’s game against the Ravens with an injury, he was replaced by Will Compton who came in and played some great football. It was important to note that David Long Jr. wasn’t available in that game, as he was on the COVID/reserve list at the time.
It was no surprise to see Compton get the start yesterday. He also wore the green dot when he was on the field. He’s a smart and savvy football player that has a ton of familiarity with this scheme. Compton combined with Desmond King to make a tackle on the first defensive snap of the game. He started well but later had some struggles while operating as the weakside linebacker. The knock on Compton has always been his overall lack of explosive athleticism.
Long also played quite a bit. We were thrilled to see him on the field so often. It felt like a no brainer to get him some quality playing time now, but it wasn’t guaranteed given the fact that Long had hardly seen the field prior to this week. His lack of snaps prior to Brown’s injury was a bit of a head scratcher.
Compton played 29 snaps while Long was on the field for 31 plays.
Long also graded out as the team’s top defender according to PFF:
It’s a great sign. Long played the game with a ton of physicality and aggression. The Titans need more of that on defense.
The best way to try to replace Brown is to let Compton and Long split snaps going forward. Their snap count should look very similar to what it was yesterday on a weekly basis. They are different players with different skillsets. That’s why continuing to use them both gives the team the best chance to adequately replace Brown. Compton gives you savviness and positional awareness. Long gives you speed, instincts and physicality.
I thought the defense did a good job managing that and their workloads. We hope that remains the case going forward.