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Next Gen Stats paints an ugly picture for Titans run defense

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Minnesota Vikings Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Titans are 3-0 thanks to another victory. They pulled out another close win over the Vikings. The perfect start is exciting, but we can all agree that this defense needs to step it up. Vikings running back Dalvin Cook ran for a career-high 181 yards on just 22 carries. His longest run of the day came on a 39-yard touchdown where the Titans defense looked poor in run support. It was a bad play at every level for a unit that has really struggled over the past two weeks.

Next Gen Stats is an excellent tool. Its model often tells the story, and this week’s reveal for the Titans run defense is downright embarrassing.

Wow. +105 rushing yards over expected is really something. The fact that this stat represents the 2nd-highest total by any running back over the past two seasons is telling. The Titans have given up nearly 400 yards on the ground over the last two weeks. That’s... not good? There’s no way around that. They have to play better.

The linebacker play has been especially poor. Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown haven’t looked like themselves. They’re getting washed out of plays regularly and letting the running back hit the second level. Kevin Byard has taken a couple of poor angles, and he’s missing tackles. In fact, the Titans missed a ton of tackles on Sunday according to head coach Mike Vrabel.

One bright spot for this Titans defense was Jeffery Simmons. The Titans got a big performance from Simmons, but they need better from his teammates, especially the ones in the front seven.